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  • Jones Chiropractic

Chiropractic and Breastfeeding

Lactation consultants and other health professionals can really help mums and baby’s to overcome any breastfeeding issues. And one healthcare professional that many new mums turn to for help is their family chiropractor.

Breastfeeding relies on movements that involve the spine and jaw

Safe for Kids and Babies

We also know from other research that when appropriately applied, chiropractic is known to be safe for kids and babies.

Video Transcript

For many mums and baby’s breastfeeding can be a real challenge! We know that about 80-90% of mums try to breastfeed at birth, but by 1 week of age as few as half of mums are still exclusively breastfeeding.1 This figure continues to drop with only about 1% of mums exclusively breastfeeding when baby is 6 months old which is the recommended time we should exclusively breastfeed for.1

There are of course lots of reasons that mums give up on breastfeeding… from sore nipples to inadequate milk supply or baby having issues with latching or sucking.2 All too often these problems lead to too much pain or even a breast infection and ultimately, and understandably, mum giving up on breastfeeding because it just gets too hard.2

This is a real shame because we know that breastfeeding is really important for baby’s health. We know that babies who are breastfed are less likely to suffer from ear infections and tummy bugs, they’re even less likely to develop asthma or other conditions that can be life threatening.1 3 It just goes without saying that nature knows best and that breastfeeding is the optimal form of nutrition for infants.4 So, if someone is having issues with breastfeeding what can they do about it? Luckily help is available!

Lactation consultants and other health professionals can really help mums and baby’s to overcome their breastfeeding issues.5 And one healthcare professional that many new mums turn to for help is their family chiropractor.1-4 6 But why might a chiropractor help with breastfeeding? Well the answer is really simple. Chiropractors see babies to help improve the way their body and nervous system functions so they get the best possible start in life. But why might a baby have problems with the way they move and function?

That’s another really simple question to answer. Spending 9 months growing in mums tummy can get really cramped.7 8 Before baby is even born the pressure they’re under in mum’s uterus can cause changes to the way their bones move and fuse together or the shape of their skull.8 9 And then the strains baby faces during delivery, either as they pass through the birth canal, or from forceps or other forms of assisted delivery, can cause injuries to baby’s spine or nervous system or other joints that doctors and parents may not even be aware of.10 We know that successful breastfeeding relies on lots of complex movements that involve the spine and jaw.2 And we know that babies with breastfeeding problems often have imbalances in the way their spine and jaw is working.6 We also know that chiropractic care has a positive impact on the way our spine and jaw works.11 12 So it’s possible that chiropractic care may help with breastfeeding problems.

So, what does the research tell us about whether chiropractic care may help mums and babies who are struggling with breastfeeding? At this stage, large, costly clinical trials haven’t been done to really study how much chiropractic care can help, so we can’t say for sure how effective it is. But what the research that has been done tells us is that many mum’s who take their babies to chiropractors, because they’re struggling with breastfeeding, report really good changes after their baby is adjusted.

In one study that was conducted in the UK the researchers followed 114 mums and babies who presented to a chiropractic teaching clinic for care. All of the babies were under the age of 12 weeks and they were all unable to breastfeed exclusively. The babies were seen by the chiropractic students up to 9 times and the students used low force chiropractic techniques to release tension and improve muscular imbalances. The researchers were most interested in whether mum and baby would be able to breastfeed exclusively after they received chiropractic care, but they also looked at the mums rating of overall improvement and baby’s weight gain. What they found was that all of the children showed some improvement, with over three quarters of them being able to exclusively breastfeed after just 2 to 5 chiropractic visits over a 2-week period. From a study like this we don’t know how much the placebo effect was involved, and with care provided by chiropractic students we don’t know if the results would have been even better if an experienced chiropractor provided the care. But what we do know is this study suggests that for some babies with breastfeeding problems that chiropractic care may help mum and baby to breastfeed exclusively, which is a great thing for mum and baby alike.1 4

We also know from other research that when appropriately applied, chiropractic is known to be safe for kids and babies.13 14 So, if you’re having trouble with breastfeeding it’s a good idea to have your baby checked by a chiropractor to make sure they get the best possible start in life.   

Video References

  1. Miller J, Beharie MC, Taylor AM, et al. Parent Reports of Exclusive Breastfeeding After Attending a Combined Midwifery and Chiropractic Feeding Clinic in the United Kingdom: A Cross-Sectional Service Evaluation. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine 2016;21(2):85-91.

  2. Fry L. Chiropractic and Breastfeeding Dysfunction: A Literature Review. J Clin Chiropr Pediatr 2014;14(2).

  3. Alcantara J, Alcantara JD, Alcantara J. The Chiropractic Care of Infants with Breastfeeding Difficulties. Explore (NY) 2015;11(6):468-74.

  4. Miller JE, Miller L, Sulesund AK, et al. Contribution of chiropractic therapy to resolving suboptimal breastfeeding: a case series of 114 infants. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009;32(8):670-4.

  5. Patel S, Patel S. The Effectiveness of Lactation Consultants and Lactation Counselors on Breastfeeding Outcomes. Journal of human lactation : official journal of International Lactation Consultant Association 2016;32(3):530-41.

  6. Vallone S. Chiropractic Evaluation and Treatment of Musculoskeletal Dysfunction in Infants Demonstrating Difficulty Breastfeeding. J Clin Chiropr Pediatr 2004;6(1).

  7. Waddington EL, Snider KT, Lockwood MD, et al. Incidence of Somatic Dysfunction in Healthy Newborns. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2015;115(11):654-65.

  8. Morrison CS, Chariker M. Positional plagiocephaly: pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management. The Journal of the Kentucky Medical Association 2006;104(4):136-40.

  9. Kirschner RE, Gannon FH, Xu J, et al. Craniosynostosis and altered patterns of fetal TGF-beta expression induced by intrauterine constraint. Plast Reconstr Surg 2002;109(7):2338-46; discussion 47-54.

  10. Chaturvedi A, Chaturvedi A, Stanescu AL, et al. Mechanical birth-related trauma to the neonate: An imaging perspective. Insights into imaging 2018;9(1):103-18.

  11. Haavik H, Ozyurt MG, Niazi IK, et al. Chiropractic Manipulation Increases Maximal Bite Force in Healthy Individuals. Brain sciences 2018;8(5).

  12. Henderson CN. The basis for spinal manipulation: Chiropractic perspective of indications and theory. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2012.

  13. Todd AJ, Carroll MT, Robinson A, et al. Adverse Events Due to Chiropractic and Other Manual Therapies for Infants and Children: A Review of the Literature. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2014.

  14. Doyle MF. Is chiropractic paediatric care safe? A best evidence topic. Clinical Chiropractic 2011;14(3):97-105.


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