I'm Having Trouble Nursing, Help! Breastfeeding & Chiropractic Care
Updated: Aug 8, 2020
Babies are hardwired to breastfeed.
There is not one baby born that comes out saying, “Nah, I don’t want to.” If a baby is not willing to breastfeed then s/he is having some difficulty.
As an IBCLC I see babies that are having trouble breastfeeding. First off, let me say that if you and your baby are having a rocky start it is NOT your fault. Yes, babies are hardwired to breastfeed, but there is a learning curve for both of you. Please give yourself a deep breath and reach out for help.
Babies are hardwired for breastfeeding. I do not believe that there is a single baby that comes into the world and says,
"Nah, I'm cool thanks, but no."
“Um, really, those boobs are just too small (or big) for me. If that’s what you’ve got just give me the bottle.”
Every person born is designed for breastfeeding. IT IS HOW WE ARE MADE.
So when I see a baby that is not breastfeeding well my job with mom and baby is to investigate why and help support mom in meeting her breastfeeding goals. Remember, every baby has a goal to be fed and the breast is baby’s natural habit to meet that goal. So if they just can’t, then we have to ask WHY?
Birth is hard! All of us moms know that. No matter how you bring your child into this world whether it is at home, birth center, or hospital, vaginal or cesarean, unassisted or assisted delivery, a long labor or even a fast labor, getting a baby out of your body is intense work.
So not only does baby’s birth process play a role in their body alignment, their position in utero does as well. Remember that those first few moments with your baby in your arms are not their first moments of life. They have been living and growing in you for approximately 40 weeks giving them plenty of time to get themselves in wacky positions.
For example, a baby might have his or her head cocked to the side creating long extended muscles on one side of their neck and short constricted muscles on the other side. This is called torticollis. When we see a baby with torticollis we know that they have probably been ‘stuck’ in that position for awhile.
Along with that muscle imbalance, your baby might not be practicing all the proper ranges of motion with their tongue that are needed for effective breastfeeding. All of this can negatively impact your baby’s ability to breastfeed well (pain free and effectively). It might show up as him squishing your nipple in his mouth because he can’t open wide enough to pull your nipple far enough into his mouth. It might be that he can’t latch well on one side because his muscles simply won’t let him get into a comfortable nursing position without causing him pain.
This is just one example of how your baby’s body alignment influences your baby’s ability at the breast. When our body, be it, bones, muscles, gut health, nutrition are out of proper functioning we seek help from the right health care practitioner. Babies are no different that us adults, and why when cases like this come to me I often refer baby out for Chiropractic and CranioSacral care.
I have asked Dr. Julie Seymour of The Human Joint here in Denver, Colorado to show us what
pediatric CranioSacral and Chiropractic care looks like. Thank you Dr. Julie for taking the time to chat with us about your work and for opening up your practice. I am so excited to be able to actually show families what this work looks like in our video, Breastfeeding and Chiropractic Care.
Can you tell us a bit about your practice and what drew you to specialize in pediatrics?
I graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in September, 1989, and moved back to my hometown of Denver to begin practicing. I have either owned or worked in 3 practices since 1989, and am currently the owner of The Human Joint in Denver.
In the early 1990’s, a newborn and his mother were referred to me because the child was so uncomfortable breastfeeding that he was hardly eating at all. He didn’t have much more luck on a bottle. He was only a few weeks old and was losing weight. His pediatrician had handed down a diagnosis of “Failure to Thrive,” and had told his parents that he wasn’t sure what to do next. The child’s mother was seeking help from a nearby acupuncturist to try to keep her milk supply up, and the acupuncturist recommended my care for the newborn. My evaluation revealed a misaligned vertebra in the baby’s neck, as well as a very tight TMJ, especially on the right side. My first adjustment of those two structures resulted in a dramatic improvement in the baby’s ability to breastfeed comfortably right away, and continued to improve his breastfeeding efforts over the next several adjustments. After 2 weeks under chiropractic care the baby had regained back to his birth weight, and he continued to breastfeed effectively and comfortably and continued to gain weight normally thereafter.
…….And a Pediatric Chiropractor was born!
Children of all ages often respond beautifully to chiropractic care. Everything from colic to ear infections to constipation to asthma, bed wetting, sleep disturbances, and on and on have all shown improvement under my care.
I have parents who get nervous about taking their kids to a chiropractor because they imagine these big manipulations that are done on adults. How is your work different for kids?
Even my work with adults is not the higher force/big manipulation kind. I use a very comfortable lower force adjusting technique, called Activator Methods, that I modify to be even more gentle for babies and kids. My adjustment of a newborn consists of light, focused finger pressure, combined with gentle rocking of the joint or structure until it realigns or balances.
CranioSacral Therapy seems to be seen as a new or whoo-whoo treatment. Can you speak to this?
I view my cranial work as being very similar to my work on the spine. It’s all about alignment, balance, and function. The bones of the cranium must line up/balance/interact with each other normally in order to allow normal function of brain structures, cranial nerves, and cerebrospinal fluid. Babies and children can experience in utero, labor & delivery, or postnatal causes of cranial imbalance, which can cause all kinds of problems.
And how is it different than Chiropractic care?
I tend to think of Chiropractic care and cranial balancing as being 2 sides of the same work. The underlying philosophy of chiropractic is that any imbalance or misalignment of musculo-skeletal structures (muscle & bone) causes neurological irritation, which can result in any number of somatic (body) or visceral (organ) dysfunction. The chiropractic adjustment and cranial balancing both reduce imbalances/misalignment, providing improved neurological function.
I know that not everyone reading this is going to be local to Denver so where would you advise them to look when seeking a Doctor?
To locate a Doctor of Chiropractic who has taken hundreds of hours of extra education in Chiropractic Pediatrics, please visit www.icpa4kids.com, and use the Find A Doctor function.
For a Doctor of Chiropractic who is proficiency rated in the low force adjusting technique that I use, please visit www.activator.com, and search for a doctor in your area.
Boob Groovin with Dr. Julie Seymour
Breastfeeding & Chiropractic Care
If you are interested in more information on Chiropractic and CranioSacral care in Pediatrics here are some helpful links.
Several research articles on Chiropractic and breastfeeding issues:
Safety of Chiropractic for children:
The Safety of Chiropractic for Children: A Researchers Perspective | Chiropractic: Efficacy, Safety and Satisfaction
Considering Craniosacral Therapy (La Leche League): LLLI | Considering CranioSacral Therapy
AND OF COURSE: DR. JULIE SEYMOUR at THE HUMAN JOINT
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