Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural phenomena between a mother and her child. As ICPA director Dr. Jeane Ohm states “Significant research shows that from a nutritional, immunological, digestive, neurological, developmental, mental, psychological and emotional standpoint, there is no replacement”. The physical latch of the baby onto the mother’s breast itself is natural and incredible. Yet just because something is simple, natural, and beautiful does not mean problems don’t arise. Occasionally there can be issues with nursing and latching that can be due to a wide variety of factors. Without a proper latch, the baby will not be able to get the milk he or she needs, which can lead to not enough weight gain. An improper latch can also create cracked and painful nipples for the mother, which perpetuates the cycle of poor milk supply and malnutrition. This post aims to hit some of the most common problems we hear about with nursing/latching in our office. If you are someone who is having some of these issues or issues that are not discussed in this post, know that it is important to consult with your doctor or lactation consultant.
Fussy Baby - There can be a variety of reasons a baby is fussy. A baby’s only way of audible communication with the world is to fuss and cry. This can indicate tiredness, hunger, or overstimulated among other things.
Sleepy Baby - It is common for newborns to spend their time sleeping when they aren’t feeding. If your baby doesn’t wake to feed, try waking him/her every 2 to three hours by talking, changing their diaper, or holding him/her in a different position. Try massaging your breast gently, known as hand expressing, and the baby will most likely wake up and swallow. Also try gently stroking under the baby’s chin.
Tongue Tie- Latest research has shown that up to 10% of children born today have tongue tie, or an extra thick piece of flesh under the tongue called the frenulum. This thickened frenulum presents extra challenges in getting the child to latch properly since they cannot get their tongue fully out of their mouths. This in turn affects the newborn’s cranial and upper neck so chiropractic and cranial adjustments can be beneficial for the baby.
Flat/Inverted Nipples - If the baby is unable to get the entire nipple and areola in their mouth it can be difficult to form the suction to draw milk out of the breast. Some babies do not have a problem with inverted nipples, while to others it can present a problem. You can try breast pumping for a few minutes before nursing to draw out and lengthen your nipple, or talk to your doctor about a nipple shield.
Painful Breast- If a clogged duct persists or there is a damaged nipple or mastitis (breast inflammation), there can be redness and swelling in an area around the nipple. There are a number of home remedies for mastitis including placing cleaned dry cabbage leaves around your breast during the day, massaging, gentle heat, and boosting your immune system with chiropractic adjustments and/or vitamin C to help fight the inflammation. If the problem lasts for more than 24 hours, or you develop a fever, then consult your doctor or midwife.
Spitting Up after Feeding - Most babies spit up after feeding, and might be a sign that they slightly over ate or had gas during their feed. There is a difference between a “happy spitter” and an “unhappy spitter”. If your baby spits up once or twice and remains happy, doesn’t seem distressed and continues to gain weight then they are a “happy spitter”. If the baby seems distressed or extra fussy, or does not continuously gain weight or loses weight, or projectile spits then they would be an “unhappy spitter”. This might be reflux and often indicates they might benefit from chiropractic care as well as a change in their diet.
Nursing can be wonderful and it is not always easy. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions if anything comes up or you would like to learn more about your nursing experience with your child. It is a learning process for both mother and baby. Many latching problems can be resolved with a few simple adjustments, but should anything persist make sure to reach your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant. With some help, you can turn your breastfeeding challenges into a breastfeeding success.