This article is meant for Moms and Dads who are passionate about healthy breastfeeding for their child. Dr. Day is a D.C. in Greenville, SC who treats pediatric, pregnancy and adult cases.
Many times, after a child’s birth there are difficulties with breastfeeding, and in particular the infants ability to latch. It is a very desperate and stressful feeling. The cause of physical muscle and joint misalignment and how they communicate to the nervous system could be the most overlooked area when it comes to this issue.
There are other reasons for poor latching that are best discussed with you breastfeeding specialist or pediatrician , but I will speak primarily on physical imbalance and how it can lead to poor latching.
Here is an abstract discussing the success of Chiropractic for latching and breastfeeding.
From the abstract: In a clinical setting, 1,000 newborns were observed and treated (ages one hour to 21 days), for failure and/or difficulty with breast feeding. In 800 or 80%, birth induced Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction was found to be the cause. In all cases, the babies were treated with chiropractic cranial and spinal adjustments, with excellent results in 99% of the cases. This paper discusses the basic clinical findings, related newborn discomforts, and associated symptomatology involving other symptoms.
The above babies were all born with a lay midwife and without drugs in a calm, warm, peaceful setting. All babies were born vaginally. All babies were examined and in all cases a cranial distortion was present due to the birth process and trauma which produced a TMJ dysfunction, interruption proper suckling mechanics by causing severe headaches and gastrointestinal disturbances.]
Arcadi, VC, Sherman Oaks, CA, Proceedings of the National Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics. Oct, 1993 Palm Springs, CA. Pub. International Chiropractors Assoc., Arlington, VA.
Courtesy of icpa4kids.org
Excellent results in 99% of the cases! Now those are some results!
My journey to working with pediatric cases, becoming a father:
I started my pediatric practice with my son. Before him, I saw mostly adults. Kai was a healthy baby boy, born naturally, with a high APGAR score. It wasn’t until we go home that we realized he was having trouble. Kai had constant colic and fussiness. He cried most of the night and there were latching issues. I had recalled seeing him having to be twisted at the head and neck to clear his shoulders and wondered if it could have led to the discomfort and fussiness he was experiencing.
Upon palpating his right upper neck muscules and the ability of his joints to glide called “joint play” it was very obvious he was very limited. I proceeded to gentle holds with the light touch of my fingertips and gentle mobilizations and after 3 visits or so his fussiness was that of a normal infant.
After seeing that drastic change in Kai I went on to get trained by the international pediatric association or ICPA. The training they offer goes in depth about the possiblities for birth trauma and malposition in the womb. Now having seen more cases than I can count and can firmly state that gentle chiropractic can be a huge breakthrough for those struggling to help their child breastfeed.
When an infant has been in a non advantageous position in utero, patterns can develop in their newly forming neuromuscular connections. As well, any pulling or twisting or need for the use of force upon the child’s head, neck or shoulder could be to blame. We see this especially in C sections but this force upon the neck and head happen even in natural births.
Either scenario of poor position or traumatic birth can lead to patterns such as
-Temperomandibular imbalance. or TMJ imbalance. The joint that makes up the jaw can get traumatized as the infant leaves the birth canal or with forceps or vacuum.
-Torticollis which is excessive muscle tightness and spasm on one side of the neck. The sternocleidomastoid muscle and scalene can get excessive nerve signals from trauma leaving them in spasm.
-Loss of mobility in the sub-occipital muscles.
-poor motion at the occipital or C1 joints on one side.
-A Tightening of the cranial fascia with loss of mobility at the soft palate.
Some common patterns parents see that could be a sign that your child could improve with chiropractic care.
-There is colic present as well. After years of seeing pediatric cases it is my opinion that colic is the infant’s nervous system trying to adapt to all of the stimuli of its new world. Their little nervous systems can feel overwhelmed and because of that digestion and body tightening are often common. By gently treating the full spine and the muscles of the hips, back and upper neck and doing cranial work I have seen drastic improvement.
Their other cases of colic that are more digestive in nature, and caused by mother to infant allergen issues and/or beneficial bacteria imbalance but that is for another article.
-They only feed well turned to one side.
Because of imbalance. The infant only has the range of motion and relief of pain turned on one side of their body. This makes sense when you think about the function of the neck muscles. They are designed to turn the head and neck joints about an axis. If they are locked up on one side, this function becomes diminished.
-They only lie facing in one direction.
If you notice your child sleeping to one side and looking to one side this could be a clue that there is an issue. We have even treated cases of flat spots on one side of the head because of the imbalance of the joints of cervical spine, occiput and jaw.
-They reach up towards their head on one side.
This could be a sign of an infant headache which can be caused after a traumatic birth or trauma from an older sibling showing affection.
-If you are not sure?
The greatest thing about Chiropractic care for infants as the issues usually resolve very quickly saving the parents a year of heartache and very little cost in comparison with medical procedures. Because it is non-invansive it is definitely worth a try!
What to do?
Get checked. A pediatric chiropractor will be certified by the ICPA and be knowldgeable about this condition. Some Doctors of Chiropractic will only assess the joint balance. Ask them to check the following:
-The SCM or Sternocleidomastoid
-The scapula and scapular muscles
-The TMJ muscles and joint.
Get comprehensive care. Make sure to rule out other issues with your pediatrician and lactation consultant. Work together as a team of practitioners.
What is the treatment like? A great hands on specilist who works with children treats with a sense of gentlenss and flow. They will be engaging to the infant and involve the parents explaining what they are doing the whole way along.
Here is a video of a typical “well check” for an infant done by me.
Another great article for your reading pleasure;
Objective: Breastfeeding during the first year of an infant’s life is currently supported and promoted by lactation consultants, midwives, naturopaths, c chiropractors, and allopathic physicians. In 1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics and in 1998, the World Health Organization published their position papers that advocated breastfeeding as the optimal form of nutrition for infants. This study was to investigate problems interfering with a successful breastfeeding experience and to see if proper lactation management, with the chiropractor actin as a member of a multidisciplinary support team, can help to assure a healthy bonding experience between mother and infant.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that biomechanical dysfunction based on articular or muscular integrity may influence the ability of an infant to suckle successfully and that intervention via soft tissue work, cranial therapy, and spinal adjustments may have a direct result in improving the infant’s ability to suckle efficiently.
Vallone S, Journal of Clinical ChiropracticPediatrics, 2004; 6(1):349-61. http://www.sotousa.org/frames.html
courtesy of icpa4kids.org
We would love to hear from you! Our office is family friendly and I have treated countless cases of colic, latching and neck issues in infants. I promise you it will be a great experience for your family.