The journey of breastfeeding isn't always easy. It can be stressful for the mum doing it, the mum trying to do it but can´t, and for the bub not knowing how to. It is completely normal to experience feelings of inadequacies, physical anguish as your baby learns to latch or teethes and it may even highlight some insecurities about motherhood. You are not alone!
The stress of breastfeeding can have both physical and psychological effects on you and your baby.
Low milk supply - Stress can build up in the body during pregnancy and low milk supply is often a result of this. Also if you’re supplementing with formula, or stretching out the time between feeds, especially with a newborn, your breasts won’t be stimulated enough to produce enough milk.
Pain - A nursing neck can also result in pain due to stress and poor posture during breastfeeding.
Sore nipples - Many women report a “pins and needle” tingling in the first 30 seconds or so of nursing.
Breast engorgement - About three days after giving birth, your breasts will become rock hard as your milk supply ratchets up. This should only last 24 to 48 hours as you and baby get into a breastfeeding groove.
Leaking breasts - These leaks can spring up anytime, anywhere, but you’re most likely to leak when you hear or even think about your baby. This should get better within four to six weeks, as your baby’s milk demands begin matching up with your supply.
Clogged milk ducts - Not serious but causes milk to back up and resulting in a red and tender lump. Breastfeeding keeps milk flowing which will eventually unclog the ducts.
Mastitis - Infection of breast tissue. This occurs when a milk duct gets clogged, and the trapped breast milk gets infected with bacteria from your baby’s mouth.
Thrush - If your nipples are pink, burning and/or crusty, it may be due to a yeast infection.
Milk bleb or blisters - These are nipple pores that become blocked when a milk duct becomes clogged. Your breast milk becomes thick and hard as a result, which blocks milk flow near your nipple opening.They’re usually a tiny white or yellow spot on your nipple.
Nipple vasospasm - when the blood vessels in the nipples tighten and constrict and don’t let enough blood through, causing pain, burning or numbness. Massage your areola with olive oil and stretch the muscles around your breasts several times a day to help blood flow.
Poor latching - Labour can stress the skull, spine and neck leading to imbalance which may make latching more difficult. This can appear as a head tilted to one side or a side preference.
Tongue tie - a medical condition where the frenulum — the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth — is too short and tight making nursing very difficult.
Lip tie - similar to a tongue-tie, but less common, and involves the upper lip and gum.
High or arched palate - when the roof of the mouth is shaped in a way that is too high or narrow causing your baby to not latch on properly.
Cleft palate - when there’s an opening in the palate of the mouth that doesn’t close before birth. Depending on the size of the cleft and its location, it can prevent your baby from generating suction on the nipple.
While you might not believe it when you're in the thick of it, most breastfeeding problems are fixable. So don't worry! You will soon thrive and establish how truly capable you are. The journey is yours and there are other women, mothers and health professionals cheering you an and ready to offer you a helping hand. This includes but is not limited to:
- Your GP and paediatrician
- Your midwife and/or doula
- A lactation consultant
- A Chiropractor trained in paediatrics
Several studies have shown that chiropractic can help with poor latching and insufficient suck as well as TMJ and neck issues.
1. Miller, J. E., Miller, L., Sulesund, A. K., & Yevtushenko, A. (2009). Contribution of chiropractic therapy to resolving suboptimal breastfeeding: a case series of 114 infants. Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics, 32(8), 670-674.
2. Vallone, S. H. A. R. O. N. (2004). Chiropractic evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction in infants demonstrating difficulty breastfeeding. J Clin Chiropr Ped, 6(1), 349-366.
3. Fry, L. M. (2014). Chiropractic and breastfeeding dysfunction: A literature review. J Clin Chiropr Pediatr, 14(2), 1151-1155.
4. Hawk, C., Minkalis, A., Webb, C., Hogan, O., & Vallone, S. (2018). Manual interventions for musculoskeletal factors in infants with suboptimal breastfeeding: a scoping review. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, 23, 2515690X18816971.