This years topic for WBFW is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers” and finding and using trained breastfeeding specialists to help and support you through this journey.
While I am not a trained lactation consultant, midwife or nurse, I am a mother and chiropractor with further education and experience in this topic. And for a topic that should be so easy to write about, it posed as a bit of a challenge. It is a challenge because there are always women who tried and didn’t succeed to BF their children, or those who didn’t want to BF and often people become defensive when the topic is brought to their attention. This blog is about options and providing information about how mothers can reduce the risk of their milk “drying up” too early or what to do when they are having some challenges with feeding.
Women know that breast milk is “best” for their babies and the majority attempt to give their precious ones “the milk of life”, however, for some it proves a difficulty and they must resort to other options of nutrition for their babies. Some of the challenges include:
- Painful nipples
- latching issues
- feeding better to one side than the other
- not being comfortable
Painful nipples: yes, breastfeeding can hurt in the beginning, however, if this continues for a number of weeks, there is usually an issue that is not being addressed and seeking a number of different opinions can be very helpful. Some of the factors which can contribute to painful nipples include: positioning, latching ability of the baby, tongue tie.
Positioning: both mother and baby need to be comfortable when feeding, so this means trying out different positions and finding what works the best for you. Positions for you can include reclining back in a comfortable chair, sitting up & well supported, using a pillow under the baby, or laying down on your side or your back (with baby on your stomach & chest) to feed. Positions for the baby can be laying tightly across your chest, a “football” hold or also laying down on a bed.
Positioning for the baby can be affected if they have upper neck spinal restrictions or cranial bone mal-positioning. This is where trained chiropractors can have positive outcomes in helping mothers and babies continue with a favourable breastfeeding experience.
The birth experience of the mother and baby can influence the ability to BF. Research has found that over position of the baby at the breast, ‘a babies seeking behaviour before reaching the breast is a good indicator to their ability to feed well.’ The quicker the baby can get to the breast post-birth and be allowed to search for the breast, the greater the chance of developing a good start in breastfeeding.
Supply & demand! The more there is a demand for the milk, the more the mother will supply. The first 3 months are critical in helping the body establish a good source of milk in order to continue being able to sustain a supply for long-term (12-24+ months) feeding. This also goes for introducing solid foods too early. When the demand decreases, the supply decreases. Something that we have seen quite a bit in practice are parents introducing food at 4-5 months because they have been advised to, and then the mothers milk supply decreases and by 6 months the child is off BM and is now consuming other sources of nutrition. The introduction of solid foods too early is a topic for another day though… I will stick to breastfeeding here 🙂
Tongue tie is another factor which can contribute to breastfeeding issues. Some of the signs of a tongue tie include: painful nipples for a long period of time, latching issues of the baby (coming on & off the breast), dribbling of milk when feeding, feeding often for only short periods of time, may be in the low-percentile on the weight scale, both mother and baby getting frustrated by the inability to feed well. If this is the case, a simple snip of the tie can help resolve this and then the couple can continue with a good feeding relationship! This is the obstacle that my daughter and I had to overcome.
If you or someone you know is having challenges with breastfeeding please know that there are other avenues of support and information where help and advice can be sought. Chiropractic is a great avenue to assess both the mother and child to help promote a good breastfeeding experience. Contact us if you have any enquiries or would like to seek support.
For support here in Norway, you can also contact: