Nursing Difficulties

Dr. Nicole Murphy

by Dr. Nicole

Have you noticed, everyday we hear about a new superfood. One that is super healthy, full of nutrients, and that everyone should be eating!  This can be said about a lot of foods, but for the youngest of us, babies, there is only one food that is truly the perfect nutrition source - breast milk! The World Health Organization, or WHO, recommends that newborns be breastfed for at least a year. Exclusively, for the first six months of their lives, then, over the next six months new foods can be introduced into their diet along with the breastmilk. There are so many benefits to breastfeeding, for both mom and baby: breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight or obese and their chance of developing type 2 diabetes decreases. It helps create a bond with mother and child and even decreases the chances of postpartum depression. Breastfeeding helps to boost the baby’s immune system and, in fact, breast milk is the primary source of antibodies at the beginning of life. One of the most fascinating things I’ve learned about breastfeeding is that the mother's body gets cues from the baby’s saliva and the breast milk changes to meet the baby’s needs with each feeding. If the baby starts increasing feeding during a growth spurt, the fat content increases and will even increase specific antibodies in the supply if the baby is sick. Breast milk even changes from day to night. Evening milk contains more serotonin and other elements to help baby sleep.

It is a pretty amazing food source, but contrary to what most people think, it is not an automatic or an easy thing to do. Both the mom and baby are learning a new skill and things can get in the way. First, the mom and baby have worked very hard together for the baby to join the world and if it was through a c-section that can make breastfeeding even harder. Another problem that can get in the way is if the baby is tongue tied. This prevents the baby from getting their mouth and tongue into the correct position making it a lot of work for just a little milk. This can also make it very painful for mom. Issues with the TMJ of the baby can affect how they open their mouths, causing problems with feeding. Subluxations in the neck can also present issues. This is one or more of the joints in the neck that are not moving as well as they should which prevents normal range of motion. This is usually noted when a baby feeds more easily on one side than the other.  

Some of the most common indicators of difficulty with breastfeeding are:

  • Babies who cannot latch firmly
  • Babies who can latch and not sustain sucking
  • Babies who are unable to smoothly coordinate suckling, swallowing, and breathing
  • Babies who can feed in only one position
  • Babies who seem dissatisfied when nursing or who remain fussy and distressed throughout the day
  • Babies who chew and damage the mother’s nipples
  • Babies who may not feed any better from other devices
  • Babies who have the need to suck 24/7

Having a good team around you is what helps create successful breastfeeding. This can be a lactation coach, a tongue tie specialist and a chiropractor. Each is there to help you on your journey. If you, or someone you know, is breastfeeding and having troubles, or is considering giving up because they are having a hard time, give us a call and we will check to see we can help you, or send you to the right place to get positive results!

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