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Breastfeeding Difficulties

13 April, 2020


Breastfeeding Difficulties

Approximate reading time: 4 minutes

The average newborn breastfeeds for 12 - 67 minutes, 4 - 13 times daily. In total, that’s anywhere up to 13 hours a day!

No wonder you are experiencing cracked, sore nipples. Your baby’s jaw could be feeling tight and tender just like your shoulders, neck and back.

Newborns require frequent feeds. They need lots of energy for all the incredible things they are learning. Their weight doubles in the first five months. Their brains’ develop quickly.

Breastfeeding has countless advantages for mother and child. You’ve heard it before and that makes you anxious why breastfeeding is so difficult. You aren’t alone!

In fact, only 15.4% of Aussies are able to exclusively breastfeed at 5 months. The world health organisation suggests exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age.

There can be lots of reasons for this.

Breastfeeding difficulties can present in different ways. For example:

  • Feeding only on one side
  • Feeding in only one particular position
  • Inability to latch on or stay latched on
  • Distressed baby during or after feeding 
  • Limited milk supply (rare)
  • Painful and cracked mother’s nipples
  • Postnatal anxiety & depression

Babies may have tensions which can contribute to breastfeeding difficulties. Your baby’s muscles and joints around the jaw, skull, neck and spine may get a little jammed up. They are constantly in use with their regular feeding. Just as your neck, back and arms are whilst you are feeding your gorgeous bub.

Thorough assessments of your baby’s movement patterns, such as

  • If they favour or avoid one side
  • Muscle and joint tension
  • Sucking reflexes and internal mouth examination

A scientific study found irregular movement patterns were more common in babies with breastfeeding woes. This included:

  • Jaw joint restrictions or gliding over to one side
  • Tight sucking & neck muscles
  • Restricted movement of the neck & skull

After the assessment, we will have a better idea if there's musculoskeletal tension contributing the breastfeeding difficulties. Paediatric chiropractic is beneficial for some but not all babies’ breastfeeding ability.

If chiropractic isn’t predicted to benefit your child, then your chiropractor will refer you to the best practitioner. As an assessment has already been performed, you will be referred to someone who has the specific skills and knowledge best suited to you and your child.

Chiropractors regularly work with lactation consultants / counsellors, dietitiansnaturopaths and dentists to provide specific advice and support.

If baby chiropractic is thought to be helpful, we’ll explain what’s going on and how we can manage it. Tension in young babies can be gently eased through baby-specific techniques. This does not involve any “cracking” but rather light pressure, baby massage, cranial therapy and home advice.



About the Authors:

Our kids-trained chiropractors, Drs Anthony and Cassie have a passion for using cranial therapy, soft stretches and baby massage to assist the development of kids’ bodies and brains. They've both undertaken post-graduate paediatric chiropractic certificate and continue to attend conferences and seminars in family health.


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