Kids's Koner Logo - Functional Bowen TherapyAuthor: Judy A. Terwilliger RN, CMT, CBT
Pediatric™ Bowen Specialist / Sacramento CA

Raising children in this fast paced, highly mobile, overflowing sea of information filled society can be a real challenge for any parent. Few are the families where generations of women support and nurture each other through pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting challenges.

That is not to say those extended, supportive families no longer exist but with more families living miles apart, with women financially supporting or assisting in the support of the family, the struggle for that close knit support unit abounds. Additionally, there are so many self-help books now on line and in bookstores that you would never even have time to scan all the titles. Whole industries now exist to fill the void.

Thankfully there are support systems that have risen to meet the challenges of the new mom/family. Frankly though, who do you listen to?

When all else fails and it seems there is no good answer or the input you are getting from others seems confusing – listen to your “mommy heart”.

As a new mother, parent or full-time caregiver, you have been given an innate sense of danger, concern and or caution where it relates to your baby. Listen to that small voice inside of you that says – something is not quite right and I need to find help.

That help may be in the form of a call to your pediatrician to make sure that some
symptom of illness needs addressed, such as a fever. Remember however that just because they see a circumstance come through their office regularly, such as colic or ongoing fussiness, that does not make it “normal”.

Normal is established by the commonality of occurrence over time, not by a clear understanding of what is actually occurring in most cases. “Normal” is not normal but in reality it is what is commonly seen and not addressed as more.

Again I say – listen to your “mommy heart”.

In your struggle to breastfeed in mom or grandma’s absence, the helpful expert now is the nurse midwife, doula or other allied health professional that is trained as a certified lactation consultant. She is usually a mom or grandma with her own experience and an education that encompasses an ever-growing knowledge base of what is best and how it should look and feel.

Remember though she does not have that innate sense you do regarding your baby and his/her needs. Even her skill base, to a degree, comes from her training, her studies of current trends and suggestions by the ever-enlightened governing authority groups. While these groups seem to be moving in a more family helpful, breastfeeding friendly direction, change for them takes years. Your struggle in the here and now is moment by moment.

If it hurts, you and your baby are struggling to find that connection at the breast, or your baby is irritable on or off the breast, something needs to be addressed – listen to your “mommy heart”. If it feels like something is not “normal” – likely you are right.

The truth is, there may be a real hidden barrier no one sees that is preventing your breastfeeding connection with all it’s amazing benefits – as nature intended. As we are totally integrated beings, this structural component may be missed, one few healthcare providers know of, consider and/or seek to address. This is muscle tension in baby that results from the “normal” high intensity process we call birth.

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 that 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 circumstance is not normal but rather common.

This largely unseen, often un-factored barrier to functional mobility is the real culprit in breastfeeding challenges. Babies 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. Again, this is not normal, but rather commonly seen without a clear understanding of what is really going on. Baby has developed a hidden barrier of muscle tension from his/her exposure to the developmental & birth process. What you sense can be a real problem for baby.

Again I say – listen to your “mommy heart”.

When this structural problem is properly acknowledged, evaluated and therapeutically relieved – normal functional movement in baby is restored. As this connection is restored and these hidden barriers resolve, the true joy of breastfeeding emerges free of the cautions and fears of what doesn’t feel right or that something feels wrong in your “mommy heart”. Always listen to it.

For more information on this insidious barrier to the true joy of the breastfeeding connection go to