Though the World Health organisation recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months, a lot of mothers stop due to difficulties with feeding in the first three months. This ranges from sucking difficulties to latching on correctly. Some Osteopaths have described cranial dysfunction and restrictions in the skull sutures being linked to breastfeeding issues. If there is an imbalance in the skull or misalignment of the skull this can affect the palette, tongue, and other structures of the head and make the facial muscles too tight and so breast feeding difficult for the baby.
The Fryman study in 2000 explored the effect of birthing on 1,255 newborns, the results showed that more than 88 % of infants had cranial restrictions. Another study in 2009 Lalauze Pol tested 1000 babies identified different restrictions in the sutures and their potential effect on cranial nerves involved in the sucking process.
Another study in 2014 that was held for one year, tested the effectiveness of Osteopathy coupled with a Lactation Consultant took place at a Mum and baby support group in Quebec City, Canada. The primary group had three Lactation consultants three days a week and an Osteopath. there was a total of 100 mums and babies that took part in this experiment. The babies that took part had biomechanical sucking dysfunctions.
The findings were:
Significant improvement in sucking skills (measured by the Latch score) found in treating new-borns with Osteopathy compared to non-Osteopathic care group.
Mothers of babies receiving the Osteopathic treatment reported that their infants also slept better, appeared soothed, and enjoyed lying on their back, whereas they had been perceived as uncomfortable before Osteopathic treatment.
Mothers also noticed an improvement in breastfeeding their babies in terms of comfort and the baby ability to latch and feed.
The study highlights that Osteopathic treatment coupled with usual care (Lactation Consultations) for infants with biomechanical sucking difficulties is more effective to improve latch and sucking than usual care alone.
This study highlights that the combination of Lactation and Osteopathic consultants seems to be promising.
At the Croydon Osteopathic Clinic we run a Breastfeeding Clinic every Tuesday from 9:30-11am with Lactation and Tongue Tie Consultant, Katherine Fisher and Cranial Osteopath, Sabrina Pedayana.