Could Chiropractic Care Help With Breastfeeding? June 21, 2014 13:55
Written By Michelle Roth, BA, LCCE, IBCLC
Imagine your baby’s position in utero – all folded and curled. Now think about the trip your baby makes during birth. In the most favorable situations – when baby’s head is down and anterior, and mom’s pelvis is mobile and open – baby still needs to make several twists and turns to be born. Add to this a modern hospital birth – with induction, lying flat in bed perhaps with your feet in stirrups, immobility due to pain medications, prolonged pushing with pelvic movement restricted, delivery assisted by forceps or vacuum, cesarean birth, and more. It’s no wonder some babies (and their moms!) seem to suffer from physical birth trauma.
Babies are designed for birth – the bony plates of the skull aren’t fused, allowing them to move and overlap in order for the head to move through the maternal pelvis. A baby’s skull is made up of 22 bones with 34 joints or sutures; and, the structures necessary for feeding are controlled by 60 muscles and 6 cranial nerves. 1 While babies are programmed for birth and breastfeeding, if the mechanics of the body aren’t working right, the expected behaviors can be impacted. 2, 3 With so many bones, muscles and nerves involved, the chance for problems is increased, especially when the natural course of labor is impacted by interventions. 1, 3, 4, 5 In addition, even a spontaneous vaginal birth without intervention may cause changes in the infant’s spine, and this misalignment can lead to discomfort and difficulties with all the baby’s systems. 3, 6 The solution? Gentle manipulation and realignment. Treating these misalignments, movement of bones and impingement of nerves – through chiropractic, osteopathy, cranial sacral therapy, etc. – has the potential to improve feeding at the breast. 3 But this type of treatment is not free of controversy.
At the July 2013 International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) conference, Dr. Howard Chilton, a neonatal pediatrician, answered an audience question about chiropractic care for infants, saying “this type of management is unproven, has no basis in science and potentially dangerous, both of itself and from the delay in the application of sound medical and nursing procedures …”, going on to call chiropractic care “pseudoscience.” ILCA printed his comments in their newsletter for members, but also printed a response from Dr. Joel Alcantara, from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, saying, “Chiropractic is a vitalistic, holistic and patient-centered approach to patient care” and citing research for application in pediatric settings. 7 So what are parents to make of all of this? Can chiropractic care be a beneficial adjunct to allopathic medicine for babies? Could chiropractic therapy help specifically with breastfeeding difficulties?
Two recent literature reviews suggest, while more research needs to be done, the few studies available showed improvement of breastfeeding issues and other problems (such as colic and asthma) with chiropractic intervention for the infant. 8, 9 In addition, Vallone discusses several case studies in which low milk supply was resolved with chiropractic care of the mother. She theorizes that the misaligned vertebrae can disrupt nerve and hormone function, and this can impact breast development (whether before, during or after pregnancy). The type of lactation difficulty will depend on the location of the subluxation; but in the cases she reviews, spinal manipulation showed results (such as, improved milk production and infant weight gain, in addition to maternal comfort) quickly. 10
In a larger case series, Miller and colleagues looked at 114 cases of breastfeeding difficulties where standard care for the infant was supplemented with chiropractic therapy. Infants younger than 12 weeks were referred for chiropractic care after being diagnosed with suboptimal breastfeeding. In this sample, 78% of the babies were exclusively breastfeeding after finishing the course of chiropractic care, which for most babies, was 3 visits. 4
Finally, Holleman, Nee and Knaap write about a case where breastfeeding aversion was resolved with chiropractic care. An 8-day-old baby was seen with the chief complaints being latch problems and a weak suck. Along with these infant issues, the mother suffered from painfully sore nipples. While breastfeeding had gone well for the first 4 days, the baby showed preference for one breast only on day 5, and then began refusing the breast on day 6. After 4 treatments consisting of gentle spinal manipulation and cranium treatments, the baby was nursing normally again. The authors suggest birth trauma may have been to blame (induced labor and shoulder dystocia, in this case). 5
While case studies cannot provide proof that the intervention indeed led to the improvement, what they do show is that this is an area ripe with possibilities for improving breastfeeding and infant health. More study can be done to provide the evidence base for body work in addition to standard care. All of the authors suggest a collaborative approach to breastfeeding difficulties. Pediatricians, family doctors, lactation consultants, chiropractors, massage therapists, etc. should work together with the parents to plan a holistic course of treatment for the infant having feeding difficulties.
- latching difficulties, especially when accompanied by nipple pain or damage
- uncoordinated sucking, or difficulty with suck-swallow-breathe
- preference for only one feeding position or one breast, fussiness in other positions
- needing to nurse “all the time” or cannot transfer milk even though they seem to be nursing
- just as much trouble with the bottle as with the breast
- a fussy, uncomfortable, colicky baby
Openness to new modalities can often be the solution when a mom is about to give up on breastfeeding. Chiropractic care has the potential to alleviate discomfort for baby and mom, and to preserve the nursing relationship.
1Smith LJ & Kroeger M. (2009). Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding. 2nd ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
2 Frymann VM, Carney R, & Springall P. (1992). Effect of osteopathic medical management on neurologic development in children. J Am Osteopath Assoc, 92(6), 729-744.
3 Tow J & Vallone SA. (2009). Development of an integrative relationship in the care of the breastfeeding newborn: Lactation consultant and chiropractor. J Clin Chiropr Pediatr, 10(1), 626-632.
4Miller JE, Miller L, Sulesund AK, & 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.
5Holleman AC, Nee J, & Knaap SF. (2011). Chiropractic management of breast-feeding difficulties: a case report. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 10(3), 199-203.
6 Towbin, A. (1969). Latent spinal cord and brain stem injury in newborn infants. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 11(1), 54-68.
7 Lactation Matters. (2013). A Response from the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.Retrieved from http://lactationmatters.org/2013/11/01/a-response-from-the-international-chiropractic-pediatric-association/
8 Fry, LM. (2014). Chiropractic and breastfeeding dysfunction: A literature review. Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics 14(2), 1151-1155.
9 Gleberzon BJ, Arts J, Mei A, & McManus EL. (2012). The use of spinal manipulative therapy for pediatric health conditions: a systematic review of the literature. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 56(2), 128-141.
10Vallone S. (2007). Role of subluxation and chiropractic care in hypolactation. Journal ofClinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 8(1&2), 518-524.
11 Ohm, J. (2006). Breastfeeding difficulties and chiropractic. Pathways To Family Wellness(11), 24-25.
The Official Divine Mama Breastfeeding Diet October 1, 2013 14:32
At last! I finally had some time to put together what I think is a great dietary guideline to follow while you are breastfeeding since each day I receive so many questions about food choices - what's good, what's bad, etc. for breast milk.
While lactogenic foods are important, they are just one part of a more comprehensive diet and lifestyle plan that will help you and your baby reach optimal health while breastfeeding.
I have studied over fifty different dietary theories as a pharmacist and nutrition counselor. Unfortunately, I have found that most mainstream theories contradict themselves, making it difficult to sift through all of the information and make the best decisions for you and your baby.
From my knowledge of lactogenic foods and from my personal experiences, I’ve created an official Divine Mama Breastfeeding Diet with the intention of providing you with simple guidelines that will help take the guesswork out of your quest for wellness.
Learn more about the diet here!
The Benefits of Coconut Oil Before, During and After Pregnancy March 16, 2013 00:00
Nothing is more important than your health – unless, of course, it’s the health of your baby. Coconut oil has recently gained wide-spread attention for its health-boosting properties. A variety of studies have shown that it can help increase metabolism, balance hormones and improve immune system functioning.
Here are some simple ways that coconut oil can support health for both Mom and baby:
- Regular coconut oil consumption can help balance hormones. Properly-balanced hormone levels make it much more likely for a woman to ovulate and to conceive.
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a rare medium-chain fatty acid that is also present in breast milk. Lauric acid is antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. Increasing your coconut oil consumption during pregnancy might help support both your and your developing baby’s immune systems.
- There is evidence that coconut oil – by helping to balance blood sugar – might help women avoid or control gestational diabetes.
- Coconut oil can help settle your stomach if you’re coping with morning sickness. While taking the oil “straight up” might be too much for some women, it’s easy to stir some coconut oil into soup, hot cereal or a warm drink.
- Rubbing coconut oil on your skin can help prevent or relieve the itching and discomfort often connected to pregnancy. Coconut oil’s moisturizing properties can also help prevent stretch marks.
- Coconut oil is an excellent personal lubricant. It can help to alleviate the discomfort of vaginal dryness, a symptom sometimes present during pregnancy.
- You can use coconut oil to treat your new baby’s diaper rash and cradle cap. It is non-toxic and very gentle on baby’s skin. And as an added bonus, it smells lovely!
- If you’re breastfeeding, you might suffer from irritated or sore nipples. Applying coconut oil can help prevent and treat cracking and soreness.
- The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are reported to help increase milk flow. Your body needs adequate fat in order to produce enough breast milk to support your baby’s needs.
- The antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of coconut oil – mentioned earlier – continue to be of benefit after your baby is born. The lauric acid that you consume in coconut oil will be directly passed on to your child through your breast milk.
- Coconut oil is perfect for massaging your new baby. Infant massages can help calm and relax babies, and has been shown to improve sleep. Improved sleep for baby means better sleep for Mom!
Your baby is the most precious, important thing that you will ever hold in your arms. Of course you want to do whatever you can to ensure that he or she will be healthy, happy and strong. Coconut oil is one tool that can help you support both your own and your baby’s optimal health.
The Top Thirteen Health Benefits of Breastfeeding Your Baby December 7, 2012 22:44
Breastfeeding is not an option for all mothers, but there is now an impressive body of evidence suggesting that those women who can breastfeed will reap substantial health benefits. Some of these apply to the development of the baby, while others influence the health of the mother. Read on to discover thirteen fascinating and profoundly important reasons why breastfeeding is a smart choice.
1) It reduces your risk of developing certain cancers:
Cancer research has shown that mothers who do not breastfeed or who only breastfeed for a short period of time (i.e. less than three months) are a shocking 11% more likely to suffer from breast cancer at some stage in their lives. Further studies have also connected breastfeeding to a reduced risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers.
2) It is linked to higher intelligence:
Recent studies have revealed that children who were breastfed as babies are, on average, more likely to score higher on IQ tests and more likely to get better grades in school.
3) It can help you become slimmer:
There are a couple of reasons why breastfeeding can help you to get in shape. Firstly, it burns around 500 extra calories each day, and this will help you to lose weight. Secondly, when you lactate this causes your uterus to shrink more rapidly, and the quicker your uterus returns to its normal size then the easier it is to cultivate a slimmer figure.
4) It makes your baby less likely to suffer from digestive difficulties:
Breastfeeding your baby reduces its risk of developing a range of intestinal problems, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and diarrhea. It is not entirely clear why this correlation exists, but a large body of research has established that there is a significant connection.
5) It reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis:
As a result of an overwhelming number of studies, it is now almost universally agreed that women who do not breastfeed their babies are around four times more likely to develop osteoporosis (i.e. brittle bones) in older age.
6) It boosts your baby’s immune system:
Breast milk helps to promote a strong and healthy immune system in your body, and this means that your baby is less likely to contract serious illnesses. This is because breast milk is a source of lymphocytes and macrophages, which produce antibodies that protect us from bacteria and viruses.
7) It reduces your baby’s chance of developing breast cancer:
A study conducted in the mid-nineties proved that female children who were not breastfed were as much as 25% more likely to develop some form of breast cancer during their adult lives.
8) It makes your child less likely to develop arthritis at a young age:
According to studies aimed at discovering how we might prevent arthritis, children who are breastfed appear to be around 60% less likely to develop arthritis during their childhood or teenage years.
9) It reduces your baby’s risk of suffering from diabetes:
Research conducted in Finland has found that drinking dairy products (instead of breast milk) at a young age raises the risk of ending up with type one diabetes. This is because cow’s milk antibodies are linked to a greater chance of developing diabetes.
10) It can help with insomnia:
The chemicals in breast milk can help to encourage your baby to fall asleep. This, in turn, can also help you to feel more relaxed and able to sleep.
11) It makes your child less likely to develop asthma:
Studies on respiratory health show that children who were breastfed as babies are much less likely to suffer from the wheezing and chest discomfort that are experienced by sufferers of asthma.
12) It promotes your child’s dental health:
When babies suckle in order to breastfeed, this tones and strengthens their facial muscles. Orthodontic studies show that this toning and strengthening improves jaw alignment, which in turns makes those children less likely to need braces or other orthodontic work in later life.
13) It helps to create and maintain a body between you and your baby:
When you breastfeed your baby, your endocrine system responds by releasing a hormone called oxytocin. This is the same hormone that is often called the ‘cuddle hormone’ because of its ability to increase emotional intimacy between romantic partners. In the context of breastfeeding, it improves milk ejection and promotes happy and relaxed feelings during the feeding process. In addition, babies it comforting to be cuddled, and being cradled in your arms during breastfeeding helps to soothe them.
As is obvious from these impressive health benefits, breastfeeding can boost the health of both you and your baby. However, note that you should never breastfeed if you have a serious bacterial or viral infection, and you should always speak to your doctor to make sure whether you are taking any medications that could harm your baby if they are transferred via breast milk.