Osteopath Rebecca Baxter talks about how neck strain in a newborn can make breastfeeding difficult on one side.
Osteopathy doesn’t help breastfeeding specifically, but treatment may help if your newborn has a preference to only look in one direction. This strain, called torticollis can make latching on one side very difficult. This may present with painful feeding , or your baby fussing a lot more on one breast, or the baby may not want to stay on one breast for very long.
To help you understand, if your baby has a neck preference to look to the right they will feed more easily from your left breast because they can easily lay on their back and look to their right. Once you get them on your right breast though, if you use cradle hold they will almost need to have their body facing your lap if their neck strain is very severe just to get their mouth facing towards your breast. In these cases it can be easier feed in the football hold or one of the more baby led holds where you lean back and allow the baby to lay on you to feed.
Torticollis is a tension in the muscle that runs from behind your ear down to your collar bone. If your baby is looking to the right, the left one will be very tight. Sometimes babies are born with this and sometimes it presents in the first few months of life. Some newborns may even have a small thickening in the muscle that can be felt as a lump.
When I see babies with this problem I teach the parents how to stretch their baby’s neck each time they change the nappy (mainly as a prompt so they remember to do the stretching regularly). I do this stretch for the babies while they are having their treatment and I also work with the small muscles and joints of their neck, shoulders, upper back and ribs to make sure there is no extra tension making it difficult for them to move their neck.
I also encourage the mother to see a lactation consultant to help them get their positioning and attachment optimal as this makes a huge difference to the baby’s ability to suck efficiently.
For other breastfeeding related osteopathic information, check out my osteopathic Approach to Poor Latch page for more information. And if you’d like to know more about me, check out my practitioner profile page – Rebecca Baxter.
I wish you all the best with your breastfeeding journey.