Do you wonder what it takes to have Breastfeeding success with your baby?
Just today, I treated an 8 week old bottle-fed baby in my clinic whose mum, Sarah, had struggled and failed with breastfeeding .
She had really wanted to breastfeed, but encountered difficulties early on. As a result, the bottle-feeds increased and breastfeeds significantly reduced by the time the baby was just 10 days old!
Now, she sees her friends’ breastfeeding with ease, and she wonders why she and her baby failed to get passed those difficult early days?
Sarah’s experience is similar to many mums I see in my Craniosacral
Therapy clinic here in Elmwood Medical Centre, Frankfield , Cork. As I treat the older babies I find that the
difficulties they have opening their mouths, sucking, turning their heads or
lying down were also the reasons that breastfeeding was problematic. In a
nutshell, I find that if I get to help these babies in their early days,
breastfeeding is much easier on mum and baby.
So, if you run in to difficulty when breastfeeding, find help in the first few days – this is crucial to a successful outcome in breastfeeding.
I decided to jot down some helpful hints and common pitfalls that occur in breastfeeding – see which ones you find the most useful.
1. Plan for Success - Take a Class.
Attend a preparation class for breastfeeding. Before your baby is born it an ideal time to learn skills and pick up new information. It is also an opportunity to get to know your Lactation Consultant - if you run into trouble with breastfeeding you have someone who you can call on for help immediately. Many lactation consultants will visit you at your home in the early days after the birth.
You may also have a Lactation Consultant available in your hospital, but many mums find that they have left the hospital without seeing a Lactation consultant as they may have given birth when they were off duty. It may be possible to go back to see the Lactation Consultant in the hospital on certain days after you are discharged.
2. Continue Breastfeeding - Even With Interruptions.
If there has been a difficult birth or an early birth, your baby may need to spend time in the neonatal ward. Breastfeeding mums find this is difficult to manage, as the baby may be given bottle feeds during this time. If possible, keep trying to breastfeed your baby. It is a short interruption and the baby will be back with you and breastfeeding again.
Sometimes it is the mum who may need medical assistance after the birth. You can work around this disruption with the advice and help of the midwives and nurses.
A common pitfall at this time is to give up when things don’t go according to plan, but be flexible and plan to continue the breastfeeding if possible.
3. Give Your Baby Some Help Too!
Have you followed the advice of your Midwife, Public Health nurse and Lactation consultant but are still having problems? Now is the time to look closely at what is happening with your baby.
It is time to look carefully at the baby’s mouth and the baby’s ability to feed.
A common pitfall is not providing your baby with expert bodywork help now. Find a qualified and certified paediatric Craniosacral Therapist at the Irish Association of Craniosacral Therapists . These therapists can work around and inside the baby’s mouth improving the latch and suck. Many other therapies do not go near your baby’s mouth – but this is essential when your baby just won’t suck correctly.
I also find that the baby may have other discomforts. I work with a very gentle touch to release tension in the head, neck and back. Babies that are those born with the help of a vacuum or forceps or have had difficult vaginal deliveries (facing up or getting stuck) benefit greatly from this approach.
Some babies I see also have tongue and lip restriction. This restriction is eased in some babies with just Craniosacral Therapy and they go on to feed successfully. Others need medical help to release the oral ties holding the tongue and upper lip. It is also ideal for babies having revisions to receive therapy to release neuromuscular restriction pre and post revision.
4. A Team Effort for Breastfeeding Success.
In summary while many children breastfeed easily - others need lots of support!
If you are a first-time mum, you may think it is normal to be very sore when breastfeeding. It’s not!
Don’t waste time. Go and get help. Early intervention in those first weeks is important.
Remember to get support from other breastfeeding mums by joining a breastfeeding group near you. It is really helpful to chat to other mums who have been through this challenging yet rewarding journey.