What to Do When Your Baby Pulls Off Your Breast In Pain
Excerpted from The Calm Baby Cookbook
There are many reasons that a baby can have difficulties with breastfeeding. When breastfeeding moms are learning how to latch their baby, and the baby pulls off only one, or both breasts and seems to be in pain, most likely he is experiencing pain!!!
In this scenario, there are three likely reasons for your baby to feel physical discomfort:
The joints in his upper neck are irritated and sore. This is called a facet joint irritation, where the neck joints are stuck and irritated, the upper neck muscles pull tight to protect the neck joints and your baby feels pain when he moves his head, especially in one direction.
He has congenital torticollis (sometimes called wry neck). Torticollis is caused by a muscle spasm of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle, which runs from behind the back of the ear, forward and down the neck to the inner collar bone, right where it meets at the breast bone. The SCM becomes so tight it can’t relax, and your baby will only look in one direction.
Congenital torticollis is very common after difficult birth. If your baby is experiencing torticollis, he needs to be assessed and treated as soon as possible by your pediatrician, a pediatric focused chiropractor or physiotherapist. , Long standing torticollis can pull your baby’s head bones out of alignment, causing an asymmetrical head shape. An asymmetry in the facial bones can make the act of sucking more difficult and increases the chance that your baby won’t be able to breastfeed easily.
He has a sore jaw (TMJ – temporomandibular joint dysfunction) – many babies do have painful TMJs after birth and can experience pain when opening and closing their jaw to suck at the breast.
A sore neck and jaw create problems with breastfeeding because every time your baby tries to breastfeed, he feels pain in his neck, his jaw or both, and pulls back from the breast because of it. Your baby becomes quite upset because he is still hungry, but feeding hurts.
I am biased to my own profession (I am a pregnancy and pediatric focussed chiropractor!!).
Pediatric focused chiropractors are very effective at helping to relieve both irritated neck joints, neck muscles in spasm, congenital torticollis, and TMJ pain. We use gentle techniques to release muscle spasm and gentle adjustments to improve joint motion to help your baby move his neck in full range of motion and feel better.
It depends on the severity of the case as to how quickly your baby’s condition will improve. Some babies only need a few adjustments to have full, free range of motion restored to their neck. Other babies have difficulties releasing the SCM muscle tension and they need more treatments to find relief. The rate of progress is really up to the baby, and how much tension and pain the baby was in to start with. Usually during treatment, you should notice gradual improvement in his neck range of motion and his level of fussiness.
How Do You Find a Pediatric Focused Chiropractor near you?
Start with Chiropractors in your area listed on the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. This is the organization that teaches chiropractors how to treat pregnant women, infants and children.
Do a Web Search
Post on your local mom’s Facebook page
Ask your family and friends which chiropractors in your area treat children
Many moms in our clinic have been helped by a combination of Chiropractic adjustments for the baby and changing their diet on a short term basis.
Do You Have a Fussy Baby in Your Life?
Oftentimes, fussy breastfeeding babies are either experiencing physical pain from birth, they are reacting negatively to the foods that their breastfeeding mom is eating, OR BOTH!
Birth is a very difficult process for babies to experience. If you suspect that your baby is in physical pain when you feed or diaper him or her, take your baby to see a pediatric focused chiropractor in your area. We are trained to gently relieve irritations to muscles and joints.
If your baby is fussy after breastfeeding, or cries inconsolably in the evenings and won’t settle easily, chances are that your baby is reacting to foods in your diet.
If this is the case, please consider purchasing the Calm Baby Cookbook – it outlines the foods that commonly cause problems for babies to digest and offers 100+ delicious breastfeeding recipes to get started! It has helped to calm many babies in my practice and I sincerely hope that it will calm your fussy baby as well.
Dr. Melanie Beingessner
Dr. Melanie Beingessner is a pregnancy and pediatric-focussed chiropractor, a breastfeeding counselor, an infant massage instructor and a mom of three awesome kids.