Consistent, full, hassle-free feedings can initially be quite difficult for many new (or experienced!) parents to achieve.
Read on to learn how somatic dysfunction and birth-related strain can affect breastfeeding - and how craniosacral therapy may help a tense baby to relax and breastfeed more comfortably.
Did you know? If the 22 bones in a baby’s skull are not perfectly in line, it can significantly affect suckling, swallowing and breathing.
CRANIOSACRAL THERAPY (CST) and other similar forms of bodywork effectively facilitate the release of accumulated strain to improve physical mobility and nervous system function. Unhindered movement of the brain, spinal cord, and fascial web are necessary for the health of all newborns, children, and adults.
“Fascia connects skin to the bones of the head, connects the bones to the dura mater covering the brain and spinal cord, and surrounds other structures in the face and head. The hard palate is formed by two palatal bones, and the soft palate is muscle covered by mucous membrane. Because of connective tissues such as ligaments and fascia, the structure and alignment of the palate are influenced by the alignment of the other skull bones.” - Dee Kassing, BS, MLS, IBCLC, RLC
Misalignment of the skull bones, as well as trauma from the birth process itself, can cause the palate to be too high or uneven, or the facial muscles to be too tight - this inhibits proper function of the jaw, tongue, and other cranial structures. The disrupted communication between the nerves and the muscles results in the constant irritation to the nervous system.
Evidence based research has proven the safety and benefits of cranial therapy to help breastfeeding issues and tongue function in very young babies. This noninvasive manual therapy is perfect even for the fragile population in the NICU.
Eliminating functional restrictions throughout the fascial web works to strengthen muscles and help the communication between nerves and receptors that coordinate suck and swallow. Craniosacral therapy optimizes the structural alignment of the mouth, throat and thorax. Research indicates that treatment post-frenotomy can even speed healing!
Keep in mind that there can be many causes of feeding difficulties in the early days or weeks. Your IBCLC lactation consultant is the ideal breastfeeding specialist to check your baby’s latch, breastfeeding position and tongue function.
TONGUE TIE Morphogenesis, Impact, Assessment and Treatment, 2010, Chapter 7 by Alison Hazelbaker
Breastfeeding and CranioSacral Therapy: When It Can Help, Dee Kassing BS, MLS, IBCLC, 2014
Quraishy K. Feeding in the NICU: A Perspective from a Craniosacral Therapist. Neonatal Netw. 2016;35(2):105-7. doi: 10.1891/0730-08188.8.131.52. PMID: 27052985.