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Chiropractic Blog

Chiropractic Care for Breastfeeding Difficulties 

Published Date: 
September 18, 2023
A young mother is sitting in a chair breastfeeding her baby.

Breastfeeding issues are one of the most common challenges faced by parents of newborns, especially for first-time parents. If you’ve never had experience with breastfeeding, it’s difficult to understand why your baby might struggle to latch or suckle.

Many things can cause breastfeeding difficulties. Some are simple problems that are easy to fix, but others indicate a bigger problem. Regardless of why your infant is struggling to breastfeed, chiropractic care can help. It’s a safe and effective treatment option for both mother and baby.

When Babies Won't Latch or Suckle

Several things can cause latching and suckling problems. For example:

  • Medications administered during labor
  • Suctioning at birth
  • Breast compression affecting milk flow
  • Holding the baby’s head for latching
  • Premature birth
  • Inverted or flat nipples
  • Low milk supply
  • Difficult birth or birth trauma
  • Sore nipples
  • Nipple confusion caused by overuse of pacifiers, dummies, or baby bottles
  • A breast infection, like mastitis
  • Blocked milk duct
  • Health problems

Neurological Dysfunction

Breastfeeding is beneficial for babies with neurological dysfunction. The benefits include:

  • Increased nutrition
  • Easier digestion
  • Immune protection
  • Reduce the risk of allergies
  • Improved bowel function
  • Lower risk of SIDS
  • Improved brain and eye development
  • Less expensive
  • Allows for bonding time
  • Improved mouth and tongue coordination

Unfortunately, breastfeeding a little one with neurological problems can be challenging. The most common issues include:

Young mother wearing a white nursing bra breastfeeds her newborn.
  • Poor or overactive muscle tone
  • Non-rhythmic suck
  • Overreaction to stimulation
  • Arching of the body
  • Too much rooting
  • Weaker reflexes
  • Increased gagging
  • Tonic bite reflex
  • Tire more easily and may not feed long enough to get the most nutrient-dense breast milk

Misalignment of the Cranial and Upper Cervical Vertebrae 

Abnormalities of the cranial or upper cervical vertebrae decrease the space for the lower brain stem and cervical cord. These abnormalities can lead to:

Any time there is discomfort in the neck, it can affect how babies feed. The positioning of the head during breastfeeding is important, and if you cannot achieve a comfortable position, it creates challenges for feeding. Ideally, you and your baby will be comfortable during feeding times.

Chiropractor's hands adjust a six-month-old baby's neck.

How Pediatric Chiropractic Treatments Can Help

Chiropractic care helps with infant latching and breastfeeding problems by relieving muscle tension and improving posture. Chiropractic adjustment also enhances the function of the digestive system and nervous system.

Additionally, spinal misalignment can hinder the body from producing enough breast milk. When spinal discs are out of place, they can press on nerves and prevent adequate breast milk production from the mother.

Chiropractic care can help both baby and mother develop healthy feeding habits.

Five-month-old baby receiving back massage from chiropractor.

Chiropractic Adjustments for Infants

Chiropractic adjustment for newborns and young infants is very gentle. In general, chiropractors use spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), which includes hands-on adjustments to the spine's vertebrae. Adjustments target the spine's joints to create more room for the joint to move around.

SMT causes the cracking sounds that make some people uncomfortable with the idea of an adjustment, especially for babies and young children. The pop you hear is the sound of a joint releasing an air bubble. It’s similar to cracking the knuckles.

Additionally, chiropractic treatment includes other therapies, like soft tissue therapy, massage, and at-home exercises, to treat spinal issues. Both of these are safe and effective for parents and babies to use.

Infant adjustments typically include:

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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