How Chiropractic Care Helps with Breastfeeding

New moms are generally encouraged by their healthcare professionals to breastfeed their baby. Oftentimes this works out well for mom and baby, but there are also many instances where the baby has trouble breastfeeding or mom experiences pain and discomfort.

Breastfeeding can be difficult and may be complicated by a number of factors such as tight muscles in the baby’s jaw or neck, torticollis, or tongue tie. Many of the issues that make breastfeeding challenging can be helped with chiropractic care.

Board certified lactation consultant and occupational therapist, Meredith Pollaro, with Nourish Nevada says that chiropractic care for newborns helps significantly with their ability to successfully breastfeed.

“Chiropractic care helps correct a lot of issues that interfere with breastfeeding,” Meredith says. “from correcting facial asymmetry to loosening up tight jaw muscles that were strained during the birthing process.”

Chiropractic Helps Tongue Tied Babies Heal Faster

A very common issue Meredith sees with her clients at Nourish Nevada is babies who are tongue tied. When a tongue tie presents itself, the tissues around the tongue and face will be tight. Meredith notes that she sees better success rates and faster recovery from the babies who are seen for chiropractic care with Dr. Nelson and lactation before the medical tongue tie release by a pediatric dentist.

“I always recommend my tongue tie babies be seen before and after release – but especially after release because the recovery is quicker from a tongue tie procedure if the baby has body work afterward,” Meredith notes.

Tension in the Neck and Jaw

The most common issues in babies who are having trouble breastfeeding is tension in the upper neck, jaw, and skull. Misalignments found in the upper neck are often a result of trauma related to birth and can be easily assessed by examining range of motion in the neck. The most extreme of these is torticollis, where the muscles of the neck are so tight, it forces the head to tilt down. By correcting these misalignments, the newborn can more freely turn their neck, making it easier and more comfortable to latch on both sides.

“When babies have a really strong neck preference, I recommend they see Dr. Nelson because a baby should be symmetrical and not have a dominance that young. If they do, it is generally because the muscles on one side of the neck are too tight and need to be worked on,” Meredith says.

Craniosacral Therapy to Correct Misalignment and Help the Nervous System Function

One of the main reasons Meredith and Nourish Nevada like partnering with Dr. Nelson is because she practices craniosacral therapy in conjunction with chiropractic. Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, hands-on technique that uses a light touch to examine membranes and movement of the fluids in and around the central nervous system. Gentle craniosacral work and soft tissue release of any tension found in the jaw and skull can help promote a deeper, stronger suck.

Misalignment or stress on a newborn’s spine can cause issues with breastfeeding. This is often a result of poor positioning while the baby was in-utero and birthing trauma. Chiropractic for newborns and babies can help correct spinal and cranial misalignments. By applying very gentle pressure, not manipulating any harder than you would touch a ripe tomato, Dr. Nelson is able to adjust the baby to realign the spine and allow the nervous system to function efficiently.

Babies Who Benefit the Most from Chiropractic

Meredith and Dr. Nelson both agree that all babies can benefit from chiropractic care in those first days and weeks after birth. Every birthing process is unique and traumatic in its own way and both mom and baby need help to heal and create alignment for healthy growth and successful breastfeeding.

Meredith says the most overlooked babies are C-section babies because on the surface they have nice, round heads and did not go through the strain of the birth canal. But she warns this is a population that needs just as much care after birth.

“C-sections babies did not have the molding and compression of the birth canal so they can actually be much tighter in their whole body. How babies are delivered makes a huge impact on breastfeeding,” she says.

She goes on to explain that babies who come out really fast or really slowly (mom is pushing for two or more hours), tend to need the most care from chiropractic and lactation support.

Caring for Mom

Dr. Nelson cares for many prenatal patients, and then subsequently also cares for their babies. But care for moms in that postnatal, fourth trimester is very important. Mom’s body has gone through a lot to grow and birth their baby. Chiropractic care and lactation support are essential in helping a postpartum woman heal.

“It is really important to care for Mom,” Meredith stresses. “The needs of the mom need to be met first and Dr. Nelson has a gift to build the mom up in her confidence. She is also really good at building a network of providers and communicating about progress so the mom has a little tribe of co-care providers.”

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