Infant Latch/Breast Feeding
Latching is the way your baby fastens onto the breast to feed. A strong latch is absolutely the most important aspect of breastfeeding. Without a proper latch, your baby will not get the milk they need and your breasts won’t be stimulated to produce more, initiating a vicious cycle of poor milk demand and poor milk supply potentially causing low birth weight, illness, and colic. Also, your breastfeeding nipples may become cracked and painful when the latch isn’t correct. Many women experience mastitis as a result. It’s a myth that babies are born knowing how to latch on and breastfeed correctly. Many women consult a lactation specialist in order to gain insight and proper instruction on how to help their babies nurse correctly. We work with a team of lactation specialists to help our patients with their breastfeeding journey.
Why is breastfeeding so important?
Breastfeeding yields many health benefits to infants by building their immunity through Immunoglobulin G Antibodies (IgG) and Immunoglobulin A Antibodies (IgA) through colostrum milk, which is imperative to a newborns health.
The many benefits of breastfeeding include:
- Breastfed babies have fewer colds, respiratory infections, ear infections, and occurrences of influenza and sickness
- Breastfeeding is good for the digestive tract. Babies who are formula-fed are ten times more likely to have diarrhea than breastfed babies.
- Exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months reduces the risk of digestive disorders like Crohn’s Disease, celiac, and autoimmune deficiencies
- Breastfed babies get sick less often, so there is less medical intervention needed and fewer medications
- Breastfeeding for more than 6 months reduces the risk of hospitalization for a respiratory infection by 70%.
- Even when a breastfed baby gets sick, the illness is usually less severe and lasts a shorter time than the same illness in a baby that has formula feeding
- Exclusive breastfeeding lowers the risk of food allergies, asthma, eczema, and skin rashes.
- Breastfeeding promotes strong attachment. The act of breastfeeding insures that a baby will be in his/her mother’s arms many times every day; breast fed babies are touched and held almost 4x as much as a formula-fed infants. Attachment is not a parenting style, but a biological necessity for normal mental health and optimal brain development.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by 40%. One theory suggests that because breastfed babies sleep less deeply, they are more likely to arouse if having breathing difficulty. Breastfeeding’s protection from infection may also help lower the risk of SIDS.
- Breastfeeding results in earlier development of an infant’s immune system.
- Breastfeeding helps to develop mouth and facial muscles, which are necessary for neurological development
- Breastfeeding also helps reduce jaundice
How Can I Improve My Babies Latch for Breastfeeding?
There are many issues that can affect your baby’s latch such as, birth trauma, congenital issues, neurological complications and most commonly lip and tongue-ties. Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition present at birth that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. A tongue-tie is a short, thick or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) that reaches from the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth, for many infants this can interfere with breast-feeding. Infants with a tongue-tie might have difficulty sticking out his or her tongue and can also affect the way a child eats, speaks and swallows. A lip tie is a tight band of tissue that connects the top lip and can go through the gum line. When an infant exhibits both lip and tongue ties, this can cause a loud clicking or smacking sound indicating the latch may be weak and need correction.
A weak latch can lead to reflux, colic, constipation, difficulty breathing, chronic congestion, insomnia, and in some cases failure to thrive. Gentle cranial work can help to improve the biomechanics of the jaw, thus improving latch, reducing painful nursing for the mother and improve nutrition and function for the baby. Cranial therapy can help improve latch by improving the biomechanics of the jaw, releasing muscle tension from lip and tongue-ties.
Craniosacral Therapy is a very soft, gentle, hands-on treatment technique that naturally works to decrease restriction and tension in the body, improves mobility, and neurological function. Infants with lip, tongue or buccal (cheek) ties often have restrictions throughout the body. When proper Craniosacral therapy evaluation is performed, the practitioner will look to the body as a whole to find restrictions starting at the base of the head (occiput) all the way to the infants feet. Many infants have restriction in the base of the skull and upper cervical due to birth trauma or breech position. This can give a flattened appearance to one side of the head (flat head syndrome), causing torticollis, which can then create further restrictions in the jaw.
Craniosacral therapy can also release recession of the chin, help with breathing, reduction of torticollis (rotation of the head to one side decreasing range of motion), improve symmetry of the face, decreasing plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome.
Craniosacral therapy can help to improve mobility of the biomechanics of the mouth/jaw creating a more successful latch and decreasing pain caused to the mother from improper latching. Cranial therapy can also help calm an infant by improving an infants nervous system and decreasing pain caused by restrictions in the body. Through the use of craniosacral therapy, facial restrictions are released, muscles are lengthened, bony realignment occurs, the baby becomes calmer, less tense, and has improved jaw and tongue mobility, and latch and milk transference typically improves.
At your initial visit, we will perform an extensive evaluation followed by detailed instructions on what restrictions exist, tension patterns, a treatment plan for correction and management, how to prevent re-attachment, how we can help improve mobility, and what stretches you may need to perform at home. Dr. Rousseau at Kyd Kyro has over 12 years experience and is highly trained in pediatric health, cranial adjusting and family care. Dr. Rousseau has helped thousands of infants over the years with these highly specialized techniques to improve breastfeeding and help create optimal health and wellness for infants. If you are struggling with latch please reach out to us today to see how we can help.