Breastfeeding ProblemsHow Breastfeeding Problems Can be Avoided.

There are many reasons why breastfeeding problems arise and in this article I go over the some of the reasons why this could happen.

Firstly let’s talk about why Breastfeeding is recommended:

When it comes to feeding your baby, it is generally thought that “ Breast is Best”.

There are lots of benefits for both the mother and baby with breastfeeding. Here are some reasons why babies should be breast fed as long as possible. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding until 2 years of age.

Breast feeding mothers have shown to have the following benefits from continuing to breastfeed their baby:

  • Decrease risk of breast cancer       (1).
  • Decrease risk of ovarian cancer     (2).
  • Decrease risk of type 2 diabetes    (3).
  • Decreased post natal depression   (4).
  • Delayed return to menstruation    (5).
  • Decreased bleeding after birth (postpartum bleeding)
  • Aids in Weight-loss

Breast fed babies have the following Benefits:

  • Immune protection.
  • Reduction of illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and vomiting, upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections and ear infections (6).
  • Higher intelligence and motor development (7).
  • May protect against atopic dermatitis (Eczema)
  • Lower risk of Obesity

In one study,  60% of mothers who stopped breastfeeding did so earlier than they desired (8).  The most common reason to stop was because mums thought they did not have enough milk. This can be the case, but it can also be mistaken for a baby who is feeding more to control their pain ( the sucking action and glucose in the breast milk gives relief). If your babies has a spinal misalignment (known as a subluxation) breastfeeding may be uncomfortable and cause them pain on opening their mouth or latching on the breast.

Breastfeeding Problems may be a result of  misalignments in the spine, caused by the birth process. Unfortunately many mothers simply give up on breastfeeding because of the difficulty. Many feeding issues can resolved  quickly with a few  gentle chiropractic treatments.

Common Breastfeeding Problems include:

Attachment issues: Your baby not opening their mouth wide enough to attach onto the nipple. This is commonly due to misalignments of the upper cervical spine.  These misalignments cause nerve irritation and muscular tightness, resulting in pain when your baby opens their mouth.  In response to this your baby will open their mouth a bare minimum to fit the nipple in their mouth.  This may result in a flattened or damaged nipple as your baby clamps down.

Upset during feeding/pulling off:  The pain caused by  misalignments in the neck during feeding is strong enough to override the hunger.  Your baby will often cry and pull off, arching their back and stop breastfeeding. Many babies will pop on and off several times during a feed.

Fussiness: Your baby will shake their head side to side when either attaching onto the nipple, or will pull off and shake, often with a painful cry.

Several research studies have concluded that spinal misalignments may prevent an infant feeding properly and these feeding issues often resolve following chiropractic  care(9-12).

Lip and or Tongue Ties

Babies may be born with lip and or tongue ties which may affect breast feeding immediately or weeks to months after birth.Our team are trained in identifying these ties and work closely with Dr Marjan Jones from Enhanced Dentistry.

Chiropractors Role Before a Lip/ Tongue/Buccal Tie Release (Frenectomy)

  1. To Assess the oral area identifying any lip, tongue and or buccal ties.
  2. To assess the strength, consistency and position of the tongue during sucking.
  3. To assess and release tight oral muscles which may restrict opening of the mouth, movement of the jaw and function of the tongue.
  4. To Identify and clear any restrictions in the neck, jaw or cranial bones which could interfere with oral function and breastfeeding.
  5. To promote a faster and more effective lip/tongue/buccal tie resection (frenectomy)

Chiropractors Role After a Lip/Tongue/Buccal Tie Release (Frenectomy).

  1. To support parents and ensure lip/tongue/buccal stretches are being done correctly.
  2. Release tight oral muscles and enhance optimal opening of the mouth, tongue function and sucking. Often tight muscles of the jaw (masseter, buccinator, ptergoids) can restrict the opening of the mouth and effect latching on the breast. Often babies will clamp down once latched, if these muscles are tight. A tight geniohyoid muscle can restrict the elevation of the tongue necessary for proper sucking.
  3. To correct any neck, jaw or cranial dysfunction, allowing for optimal nerve function and therefore muscle function.
  4. To enhance the use of the tongue, suck and swallowing mechanism necessary for breastfeeding.
  5. To assist in retraining a proper suck.
  6. To help prevent any reattachment of ties.

For more information about lip/tongue ties please visit

Our experienced team of Chiropractors at Children’s Sunshine Chiropractic see infants with Breastfeeding Issues on a daily basis, we feel very confident in managing babies with these issues. You can be rest assured that your baby is in the right place for the safe and effective management of feeding issues.

How To Avoid Common Breastfeeding Problems?

  1. Have your baby checked by a chiropractor who focuses on babies. This will ensure any musculoskeletal issues are dealt with and your baby can feed without discomfort. The chiropractor can also identify any lip/buccal or tongue ties .
  2. Have any restrictive lip/buccal and or tongue ties released by a professional who specialises in frenectomy.
  3. Have your feeding technique reviewed by a lactation consultant.
  4. Feed your baby before they become over tired or extremely hungry.

 References for Breastfeeding Problems:

  • Cancer 125-662-665 (2009
  • Am J Clin Nutr October 2013 vol.98no.4 1020-1031
  • Aunea D et al. Breastfeeding and the maternal risk of type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. Nutrition, Metabolism and cardiovascular diseases 2014:24(12);107-115
  • Psychological Medicine/ Volume 44/Issue 05/ April 2014 pp 927-936.
  • Leung_2005,
  • Lamberti et al, 2013 Meta-review
  • Bernard JY, et al 2013.
  • Odom, EC et al. Reasons for Earlier Than Desired Cessation of Breastfeeding Pediatrics 2013;131:e726-e732)
  • Miller, J. Miller, L. Sulesund, A. Yeutushenko, A. Contribution of chiropractic therapy to resolving suboptimal breastfeeding. A case study of 114 infants. JMPT, 32, 8. 670-674.
  • Birth induced TMJ dysfunction: the most common cause of breastfeeding difficulties. Arcadi, VC., Sherman Oaks, CA, Proceedings of the National Conference on Chiropractic and Pediatrics. Oct, 1993 Palm Springs, CA. Pub. Int’I Chiropractors Assoc.., Arlington, VA.)
  • Vallone SA Chiropractic evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction in infants demonstrating difficulty breastfeeding. J Clin Chiropr Pediatr. 2004 Spr;6(1):349-368)
  • Stewart A. Paediatric Chiropractic and infant Breastfeeding Difficulties: A Pilot case series study involving 19 cases. Chiropr J Aust: 2012 Sept 2012 (42:3): 98-107.