There are many benefits to breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother. The World Health Organization reports that breastmilk is the ideal food for newborns and infants and that it provides all of the nutrients that a baby needs for healthy development. Breastfeeding transfers antibodies from the mother to the baby and can enhance the baby’s immune system. Later in life, a baby who was breastfed is less likely to be obese or have type-II diabetes. The mother’s health benefits from breastfeeding as it reduces the risk for breast and ovarian cancer, type II diabetes, and postpartum depression.
Although breastfeeding is a natural and amazing way to nourish a baby, sometimes mothers encounter challenges, such as painful feeding, difficulty with latching, a baby who pops on and off the breast, a baby with reflux, increased gas, difficulty with swallowing, and colic. Additionally, some babies have tethered oral tissues know as lip and tongue ties. When babies have lip and tongue ties, the above symptoms can be seen. Also, a baby with tethered oral tissues often presents with various strain and tension patterns throughout the body, anatomical malalignment, structural changes, decreased range of motion in the neck, and flattened areas on the head.
What is CranioSacral Therapy and How Can It Help with Breastfeeding?
CranioSacral Therapy is a light touch, gentle, hands-on treatment technique that looks holistically at the body and works to decrease restriction and tension patterns, improves mobility, and function. In a baby with breastfeeding challenges and with tethered oral tissues, there are often restrictions elsewhere throughout the body. The baby may present with restrictions at the occipital cranial base (where the head meets the neck), may be tight throughout the neck and present with favoring one side of the neck (torticollis) or with decreased neck length, may have a recessed chin, difficulty with breathing, may be stiff and tense throughout the body, may have an asymmetrical face, plagiocephaly or flat spots on the head, and cranial bone overriding.
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) can help to improve mobility of the tissues by decreasing the restriction and tension patterns throughout the body, improving the anatomical and structural alignment, decreasing tension on the membranes of the brain, and improving oral motor mobility and function.
Through the use of CST, fascial restrictions are released, muscles are lengthened, bony realignment occurs, the baby becomes calmer, less tense, has improved jaw and tongue mobility, and latch and milk transference typically improves. CST can help the mother and the baby, improve and save their breast feeding relationship.
Tethered Oral Tissues and Revision
There are times when the frenulum (attachment) of the upper lip and tongue are restricted to a greater degree and the baby has been referred to a Pediatric Dentist for an assessment and procedure, called a revision, is recommended to laser or cut the ties. CranioSacral Therapy plays an important role pre and post revision of lip and tongue ties. CST helps to decrease restrictions and prepare the body for the releasing of the tethered oral tissues. Greater success occurs when the tension patterns are decreased throughout the muscles and fascia in the body and there is improved structural alignment before a revision.
Post-revision, CST continues to help release restriction and tension patterns, improve structural alignment, improve mobility, improve the baby’s latch and milk transference, and to assist in increasing mobility of the revised frenulums. Additionally, CST helps with pain management, helps with releasing trauma from his/her body from the procedure, and it calms the central nervous system, improving systematic functioning. CST can restore a bond between a mother and her baby by helping to facilitate a healthy, enjoyable breast feeding relationship.
Bottle Fed Babies Also Benefit from CST
If a baby is bottle fed either breast milk or formula, the baby’s physical alignment and oral structures are important as well. The same challenges may be seen such as increased gas, colic, reflux, increased tension throughout the bottle, difficulty with sucking, difficulty with latching, increased gag reflex, decreased jaw range of motion, and restrictions in the lip and tongue. CST can address all of these concerns to allow for more successful bottle feeding, while decreasing challenges for the baby.
Tethered Oral Tissues after Infancy
Having lip and tongue ties can impact not just infancy, but can cause lifelong issues, such as an open mouth posture with sleeping, a retracted jaw, breathing difficulties, sleep apnea, difficulty with food manipulation, speech difficulties, ADD/ADHD, neck pain, migraines, and there is a correlation of tethered oral tissues to allergies.
(Featured in Natural Awakenings - August 2016)