by. Shawnda James
Breastfeeding requires complex muscle movements of a infant's jaw, mouth, neck, and upper torso, where the muscles of the throat and esophagus have to engaged to facilitate swallowing. These movements all need to happen in a tiny person who is just getting accustomed to breathing air. While most breastfeeding duos- mother and infant- get along just fine, others have issues. Some infants struggle to breastfeed because of musculoskeletal issues. Injuries sustained during birth or shortly after, and other developmental health issues, can lead to difficulty breastfeeding. Infants must be able to lift and rotate their heads in order to successfully maneuver the breast, adjust the head into a comfortable position, and achieve proper latch onto the nipple. Infants with neck injuries often develop a preference for one side or nursing position. When this happens, it can prevent the breast from draining effectively, causing discomfort, inflammation, and sometimes infection for the mother. While positioning the infant in his or her preferred position during feeding can help, this is an imperfect solution. Eventually an infant's difficulty turning his or her head will cause difficulty in other areas and make breast feeding more complicated than necessary. MASSAGE THERAPY MAY IMPROVE BREASTFEEDING In the absence of other health complications, soft-tissue restrictions due to injury or unknown causes should be considered as primary contributing factors when an infant has difficulty breastfeeding. Massage and physical therapist trained in soft-tissue treatments should be on the front line in correcting these issues. Breast milk and maintaining a breastfeeding relationship are beneficial to he health of the breastfeeding mother and infant, so if issues with feeding can be corrected by a soft-tissue therapist, parents should consider these modalities as an option. In conclusion, soft-tissue therapy may dramatically improve a difficult breastfeeding relationship for infants as young as 3 months.