Breastfeeding can feel uncertain, uncomfortable and unfamiliar for many moms. Perhaps it comes naturally at first but pain or supply issues develop later. Sometimes breastfeeding seems easy with a first baby, but then everything is different with their sibling.

If any of this feels familiar, you are not alone. Competent support and care can make a world of difference.

When breastfeeding is difficult, most mothers assume something is wrong with them — that they are not making enough milk — but upon assessment, there are often correctable issues with the baby and their latch 90% of the time.

Did you know that tongue ties are fairly common when nursing is difficult, easily treatable and often go undiagnosed?

When breastfeeding works, it is wonderful for both mother and child. But many women say it is the hardest, and most rewarding thing they have ever done. This post is offered in support and encouragement. In partnership with your primary caregivers, good lactation support and chiropractic care can address the root causes of sore nipples, engorgement, mastitis, heavy letdowns, milk supply issues, and back pain and neck pain, and create a pathway to stress-free breastfeeding.

In many world cultures, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends who all breastfed guide and support new moms. Here and now, we have a renewed awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding, but availability of actual support systems and practices hasn’t quite caught up yet. Many patients we see are looking for positive support and solutions. We provide that, one nursing mother at a time.

Experiencing Pain Related to Latch and Breastfeeding

New mom breastfeeding

Many issues can cause a painful latch or pain in the breast. Here are the most common conditions that our doctors and lactation counselors assess and treat:

Sore Nipples are often the result of an improper latch. A lactation counselor observing you while you breastfeed can quickly determine if the baby is swallowing air, if your positioning is compromising your flow, or if there’s a physiological issue with the function of the baby’s latch or sucking pattern.

A Clogged Duct is painful — and the most effective healing is a baby nursing! A certified lactation counselor can guide you through massage and practices to get you back to productive and pain-free feeding.

A clogged duct can happen at any time, but often happens when the baby starts sleeping through the night (the downside of a blessing!) or during periods of stress.

Mastitis is a clogged duct that’s become red hot and infected. In addition to the support of our certified lactation counselors, mastitis responds well to our doctors’ organ therapy work which helps the breast ducts flow more freely. This can also be supported at home with castor oil packs and warm massage.

Because it starts with inflammation, mastitis may be connected to diet. Foods high in sugar and carbohydrates and inflammatory foods like milk products can increase susceptibility to mastitis; eating more lean meats and avocado, good fats, fruits & vegetables, brown rice and quinoa can help, as well as staying hydrated and getting rest.

Our Rhode Island & Massachusetts practices are built to care for nursing mothers and their babies. Our chiropractic doctors work alongside certified lactation counselors to address physical pain, good positioning, infant latch, nutrition and organ function, and overall well-being. In partnership with your physician, OB-GYN, doula and pediatrician, our team is here to help you succeed and thrive. Call to talk to one of our specialists about scheduling time for you.

Diagnosing Tongue Ties

Tongue ties limit a baby’s ability to latch correctly, and frequently go undiagnosed. The condition is relatively minor and easily corrected, and yet we’ve seen women come to us 8-12 weeks into their breastfeeding journey and beyond with babies that have undetected tongue ties.

Why is this? Sometimes the condition is visible, but far more often, the issue is related to function. And improper sucking motion can create friction and abrasion which leads to sore, cracked and even bleeding nipples as well as an undernourished and colicky baby.

Most importantly for proper evaluation of tongue ties: A medical or lactation professional needs to observe you breastfeeding.

Our chiropractors and lactation counselors follow a 12-point assessment that includes:

  • Visual: Is the tongue flat or bunched?
  • Mobility: How much can the tongue move? Can the tongue move side to side, reach the mid-mouth, and extend out over the lip? How much can the tongue stretch? What happens when the baby opens their mouth and cries?
  • Feel: When you put your finger in the baby’s mouth, does their tongue suck from front to back — or from back to front?
  • Function: Can the baby make a seal around the nipple?
  • Sound: Is there a clicking sound when the baby feeds?

What is a Tongue Tie?

Tongue Tie is a simple condition that prevents the tongue’s full range of motion, which could interfere with breastfeeding and having a proper latch and seal. Typically, this band of tissue separates before birth, but sometimes it doesn’t. (We suspect that babies born early or prematurely have increased likelihood of tongue tie.)

Back! Neck! Other Pain Related to Breastfeeding

Mom nursing child

While you are nursing, remember that your body has just been through a major physical feat. Giving birth is the physiological equivalent of running two marathons back-to-back. Added to your own recovery, you’re now starting a new physically demanding practice in breastfeeding.

Use pillows as support, and position the baby correctly. A lactation counselor will help to guide you through a range of well-supported positions that work for your body and your baby’s latch.

Feeling neck pain and back pain related to contorting your body to breastfeed is common, but you don’t have to live with it!

After childbirth, it takes at least three months for your ligaments and muscles to move back into place. Regular chiropractic care — sometimes alongside massage or other body work — goes a long way to support your own recovery and well being, as well as your ability to care for your baby.

Expect Change: Every Week May Be Different

Tongue tie baby latching

It may take 8-12 weeks or more before you really feel you’ve found your groove with breastfeeding. At any point, if you hit a bump in the road, seek out some extra help.

Just when you get the hang of it, your baby will change things up. 

Certified lactation counselors can help you through the changes you may encounter: 

  • How to position your baby for supported, comfortable feeding with adjustments as your baby grows
  • How to deal with supply issues — increasing supply, delayed letdown, overproduction or asymmetrical production
  • How to deal with engorgement as the baby starts sleeping longer or you go back to work
  • How to employ hand-expression techniques if flow is heavy to start or if let down is delayed
  • General support and referrals for new parents who may be experiencing unhealthy levels of stress or feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Clarity and encouragement for any breastfeeding issue or concern

For Local Moms - The Bayside Chiropractic Experience

We work to give families the kind of support they need. We offer the ability to have a chiropractic treatment and coaching with one of our lactation counselors, all in one place.

If you are based in Rhode Island or Southeastern Massachusetts, call our office to make an appointment and expect to feel better!

We will take care of you, so you can take care of your baby.