Breastfeeding – What’s normal? How do I get the breastfeeding support I need?

Aug 13, 2020

My own first breast feeding experience (six years ago) was not a great one.  I was having a lot of pain, was unable to latch her on, struggling with knowing if she was feeding properly, was she getting enough? Was it this hard for everyone?.

I lacked the basic knowledge of what ‘normal’ breast feeding was.  It meant I wasn’t empowered enough to ask for breast feeding support  – I thought it was my fault. Something I still feel sad, angry and let down by, nearly six years on.

Everyone’s experience of breast feeding it completely different and unique – this is just mine and my feelings.  I hope you had a more positive one.

One great thing that did come out of my experience was that it made me determined to learn more about breast feeding so I could educate, empower and support more families, through my work as a paediatric osteopath.

At Cheadle Osteopathy, our specialist paediatric osteopaths, are based in Stockport and help families from Cheadle, Cheshire, Manchester, South Manchester and beyond.

We strongly believe in  supporting parents and their breast feeding goals.  This means arming them with information, support and a voice to speak if they are concerned.

So what should you be looking for? Breastfeeding – what’s normal?

Here are some common things we hear as paediatric osteopaths, around breast feeding:

  • My baby only feeds for 10 minutes – Normal
  • My baby feeds for 30 -60 minutes – Normal
  • My baby only wants one breast each feed – Normal
  • My baby takes both breasts every feed – Normal
  • My baby feeds 15 times a day – Normal
  • My baby feeds 5 times a day – Normal
  • All I do is feed , I can’t get anything else done – Normal
  • Cluster feeding ……. – Normal

If you are having pain or aren’t comfortable feeding – that’s important too.  The baby maybe ok but you’re important too!. You might need some breastfeeding support and help to make it more enjoyable. Read on…..Does any of this sound familiar?

If you are struggling with any of the symptoms or issues listed above – you might benefit from some breastfeeding support and help.

  • Lactation Consultants – They can help to assess your feeding technique, help with different feeding positions and offer reassurance.  They can also test for tongue tie if it is necessary (and if it’s what you want), cut it to improve the movement of the tongue.  Make sure you find a qualified, insured and registered lactation consultant. 
  •  Support Groups – These take many different forms from drop in clinics, over the phone help or one to one support.  The La Leche league provides a wealth of knowledge and experience to help parents.  The NHS provide access to lots of resources and support for feeding. There will be groups in your area of Stockport, Cheadle, Cheshire and Manchester.
  • Specialist paediatric osteopaths – we are specialist in assessing for mechanical dysfunction in the body (the joints, muscles, nerves).  Successful, comfortable breast feeding is about more than just a tongue.  Our gentle, subtle techniques can help to relive tension and help you baby to feel more relaxed and comfortable.  We often work in conjunction with lactation consultants and breast feeding support groups. We have excellent relationships with our local lactation consultants and La Leche Leagues.  For more information see: osteopathy for babies and children   Cranial osteopathy    Meet the team.  We are conveniently based in Stockport and regularly support families in Cheadle, Cheshire, Manchester, South Manchester and beyond.


How do babies feed? Breastfeeding support

It’s a complex process involving a lot of muscles, joints and nerves – all working together and remembering to coordinate with breathing too!

Babies don’t actually suck.  What they really do is seal on the nipple with their lips, then create a vacuum in their mouth by pushing the tongue against the roof of the mouth.  They then drop the pressure in their mouth but lowering the back part of their tongue.  This pressure change draws the nipple and milk into their mouth.  Babies then  continuously increase and drop pressure in their mouths, using their tongue in order to feed.

The jaw moves in a reverse cycling direction to help ‘milk the breast’ and assist the movement of the tongue.

No wonder they get tired! So you see it’s soooo much more than just what the tongue is doing (although that’s important too).

We always explain to parents that breastfeeding is like a jigsaw puzzle. You need enough pieces in the right place for the whole picture to make sense.

As specialist paediatric osteopaths, based in Stockport, Cheadle, Cheshire, we are looking at all of these mechanical ‘pieces of the jigsaw’ (neck, jaw, mouth, face, tongue, swallowing, breathing) to see how we can improve things to assist feeding, to be more efficient for your baby and more comfortable for you.

Lactation consultants often refer to us for body work before or after tongue tie divisions. Breastfeeding support is often a team effort.

Ask yourself; can my baby open her mouth wide? Tip her head back? Turn her head both ways? Lie comfortably in different positions? Maintain the latch throughout the feed or does it slip? Am I comfortable when feeding???

If you need help with any of this, a mechanical assessment by a specialist paediatric osteopath could help to reduce mechanical tensions in her body, to help your baby feel more relaxed & comfortable.

Hopefully that has helped to give you a better understanding of how amazing breast feeding is and you feel empowered to know when and how to ask for help. If you are looking for breast feeding support for mechanical issues in breast feeding, our clinic in Stockport, serving families from Cheadle, Cheshire, Manchester and South Manchester, would love to help you.

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