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The benefits of bodywork

Many infants are born with a poor ability to latch and breastfeed, which often leads to ineffective milk removal at the breast. After working with your doctor, osteopath, and lactation consultant you may feel as though you are left at a dead end. This state of desperation can in turn cause the mother pain and frustration, and puts the dyad at risk for early weaning (Riordan and Auerbach 1999).

An examination of the body’s structural restrictions is necessary, to determine which kind of care would be most beneficial for the infant and mother.

Facial restrictions are the main source of difficulty and disfunction for babies who do not respond to traditional support. There are a number of ways an infant attains this strain in their body. This strain usually stems from changes that occur during the prenatal time line, during the birthing experience, or in a postnatal event which compromise the infants cranial structure and its functionality (Hazelbaker, 2020; Holleman, et al., 2011).

What are my options?

There are a number of avenues to consider when looking into different forms of body work. They will all help ease some of the tension the infant is experiencing, although they will be accomplished in different manners. Health care professionals need to work in unison, the alternative options include such examples as Chiropractic care, Acupuncture , and Craniosacral Therapy (CST). They all can help the dyad in their breastfeeding journey.

Chiropractors are providers who can assess by both mothers and their babies. Chiropractors are licensed health care providers who work on the the body to adjust misalignment of the spine, and the joints. Adjustments can restore joint mobility that were disrupted due to injury or misalignments, or dislocation. These movements and adjustments can reduce nerve compression. Chiropractors work with their hands, by applying a controlled force into joints to improve mobility.

An infant can be referred to a chiropractor if they experienced damage during birth from a vacuum or forceps, or those whose muscles and bones are not working in unison, and thereby causing the baby pain or irritability. If an infant was brought in to a chiropractor due to a feeding issue, such as inefficiently drained breast the mother is also being impacted with a lower milk production (Lee, n.d.). Vallone (2004), found that infants who received chiropractic adjustments of the head and spine had improvement in their nursing in over 80% of the studied patients. Many parents have found that there were immediate improvement to the dyad’s breastfeeding journey after a couple of treatments. Infants that are experiencing neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction may have disruptive breastfeeding experiences. Their ability to suckle successfully needs adjustment via the chiropractor.

When health care professionals are considering injuries and dysfunctions of the infants spine and structures, the trauma is often underreported and frequently misinterpreted (Smith, 2007; Biedermann, 2005). This treatment can restore normal neurological communication and allow for coordinated suckling. An infant who is experiencing restrictions in their motion and joints can see improvement from chiropractic treatment, which can promote optimal function and communication of the nervous system (Gatterman, 2005).

Acupuncture is another form of therapy that helps to release the tension in muscles and pressure points. Acupuncture stimulates particular pressure and energy flow with the use of inserting needles to treat alignments.

Acupuncture can be done on both mother and infant. A mother may use acupuncture when dealing with low milk supply, or even a case of mastitis. In the case of the mother who has low milk supply, her body will release hormones such as prolactin and oxytocin after an acupuncture treatment. In one such study, 28 Chinese mothers found that acupuncture had increased milk supply (Lee, n.d.).

Craniosacral therapy (CST) is another alternative. CST exerts a light pressure to the body, and releases tension is extremely gentle manner. The pressure used during these sessions is about 5 grams of pressure, which are applied to the body which encourages the body to self correct.

CST is related to the practice of osteopathy, which mandates how body structure and function are reciprocally interrelated. Therefore, when an infants experiences structural issues and is compromised, the function that the body part contributes will be compromised as well. CST will release the tensions created, and rebalance the compromised area both structurally and somatically (RLC, 2016). Craniosacral therapy is proven to positively impact the dryads ability to breastfeed, in addition to assisting in the rectification of the structural and functional concerns (Hazelbaker, 2020).

How do I find a highly recommended Body Worker?

Intervention on the soft tissue via acupuncturists, cranial therapy and spinal adjustments via chiropractic care may have a direct result in improving the infant’s ability to suckle effectively . Early lactation management, with the addition of body work can act together in a multidisciplinary support team to assure a healthy bonding experience between mother and infant (Vallone, 2004).

At Mamas Au Lait | Lactation we can to refer you to a wide variety of fantastic practitioners, in addition to our in house CST IBCLC Paola Vallarino. We would love to help you, and your baby on your breastfeeding journey. Contact us today to learn more about what we can offer you at Mamas Au Lait.

By Deena Zacks LC.


  • Biedermann, H. (2005). Manual therapy in children: proposals for an etiologic model. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, 28(3), e1-e15.

  • Brussel, C. (2001). Considering Craniosacral Therapy in Difficult Situations.

  • Gatterman, M. I. (2005). Foundations of chiropractic: subluxation. Elsevier Health Sciences.

  • Hazelbaker, A. K. (2020). The Impact of Craniosacral Therapy/Cranial Osteopathy on Breastfeeding. Clinical Lactation, 11(1), 21-27.

  • Holleman, A. C., Nee, J., & Knaap, S. F. (2011). Chiropractic management of breast- feeding difficulties: a case report. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 10(3), 199-203.

  • Kaplan, R. (2018, March 11). How can craniosacral therapy improve breastfeeding? SDBFC. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from 2012/8/23/how-can-craniosacral-therapy-improve-breastfeeding

  • Lee, N. (n.d.). How can chiropractic, acupuncture, Cranio-sacral help with breastfeeding? Motherlove Herbal Company. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from sacral-help-with-breastfeeding

  • RLC, C. (2016). IBCLCs and Craniosacral Therapists: Strange Bedfellows or a Perfect Match?. Clinical Lactation, 7(3), 92.

  • Smith, L. J. (2007). Impact of birthing practices on the breastfeeding dyad. Journal of midwifery & women's health, 52(6), 621-630.

  • Vallone, S (2004). Chiropractic evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction in infants demonstrating difficulty breastfeeding. J Clin Chiropr Ped, 6(1), 349-366.

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