Author: Judy A. Terwilliger RN, CMT, CBT
Pediatric™ Bowen Specialist / Sacramento CA
The resurgence of infant, maternal – child and family bonding through the miracle of breastfeeding has been a refreshingly welcome focus in our ultra modernized society. The joy of being born to loving parents is nowhere played out more than in the art of breastfeeding. The nurture with the neuro-developmental benefits that it affords our society’s offspring is nothing short of amazing.
Often though, our developing medical advancements, with managed care, have provided not only help to save lives but have presented challenges in the childbearing process. It would seem that more and more babies, new moms and families can be found to experience unknown obstacles, even hidden barriers on their breastfeeding path.
Many are the moms whose bonding dream feels shattered by the real life struggle to see this art as positive, with her endeavor seemingly unsuccessful. Meanwhile, her baby struggles to connect at her breast, find comfort in her offer of warmth and care and bond with just less than a seeming war. Both are engaged in an uncertain process that is supposed to be so natural. Dad watches helplessly.
The pediatrician cannot explain this disconnect. At first glance all seems “normal” with baby and a referral to a certified lactation consultant ensues. However, try though they may with various position changes and/or the reduction of any tongue-ties discovered, the process is still filled with pain, rooting, latching failure or an ineffective transfer of milk, all while mom’s supply wanes. Failure seems imminent.
The frustration, the tears of helplessness and the chaotic life that follows, all in the pursuit of a natural wonderful experience, leads this mom to wonder what she is doing wrong. She blames herself for what she cannot understand is happening, especially when it seems she is doing her best.
Something that is supposed to be so right has gone so wrong. If baby could talk, his/her cry would mirror mom’s lament, “It’s not my fault. I’m trying so hard!”
The truth is, there may be a real hidden barrier no one sees that is preventing both from connecting as nature intended. We are totally integrated beings, but a critical structural component may be missed, muscle tension resulting from the “normal” high intensity process we call birth. Few healthcare providers know of, consider and or seek to address this key impediment to a natural experience
Though the actual delivery process is managed in many ways for the best possible outcome, it is still highly likely that despite these best of efforts, baby’s response to the birth process is traumatic. This reaction to the birth process is absorbed by his/her musculature producing a form of tension/torsion at the neck, which has a cascading effect on baby’s entire musculature. Resulting high muscle tone (from the congestion present) then creates a structural hindrance to normal muscle movement and ultimately can produce an unseen structural barrier to neuromuscular function.
This largely unseen, often un-factored barrier to functional mobility is the real culprit in the breastfeeding dilemma. The ultimate body response is to withdraw from the discomfort produced by the use of the muscles that support or are associated with an over-tight head, jaw, neck, back, and/or shoulders.
It’s really no one’s fault! It is simply a hidden barrier that baby has developed from his/her exposure to the developmental and birth process.
When this structural problem is properly acknowledged, evaluated and therapeutically relieved – normal functional movement in baby is restored. The joy of breastfeeding is saved. Tears of anguish become tears of joy, as this connection miracle is reborn with family peace and sanity restored.
For more information on this insidious barrier to the true joy of the breastfeeding connection go to StrugglingToFeedMyBaby.com