While no two breastfeeding journeys are the same, there are definitely some common challenges many of us share. Whether it’s experiencing nipple pain, milk blisters or blocked ducts or struggling with your mood and overall mental health, we’ve rounded up four alternative methods to try.
From acupuncture to craniosacral therapy, there are more solutions than you think!
Craniosacral therapy (CST) for better breastfeeding
Craniosacral Therapy (CST for short) is not as talked about as more traditional methods, but many moms turn to this system of techniques for better breastfeeding.
CST focuses on the soft tissue structures surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Craniosacral Therapy tools and techniques involve light-touch massage that puts light pressure to relax both the brain and the body.
If you think your infant might benefit from Craniosacral Therapy, an introductory session or consultation is a good first step. During these sessions, your specialist will access the soft-tissue manipulation of your baby’s mouth and on the head, spine and pelvis. Very little pressure is needed for an evaluation, since an infant’s connective tissue is so soft.
Ways CST can improve breastfeeding:
Helps bring your baby’s tongue out over the gum line
Reduces tension in your baby’s neck
Relaxes their jaw so that they can open their mouths more comfortably
Increases their range of motion of the tongue and haw
Eases tension inside your baby’s mouth (balances out suction that is too strong or too weak)
Chiropractic care for breast and nipple pain
In a previous post, we covered how to heal blocked ducts, milk blisters and nipple blisters. Working with a lactation consultant or counselor, taking ibuprofen and wearing breast shields are a few ways to alleviate the pain you are feeling.
However, sometimes the problem is not what you think the problem is, and that’s when consulting a chiropractor is a good next step. While it might not seem like the most intuitive choice, there are many women who swear by it.
For one, when it comes to the body as a whole, chiropractors are kind of like detectives. They are skilled to identify not only where there is a problem, but why there is a problem. Symptoms like nipple pain help them dig deeper to target the problem and help the body attain balance. Here are a few examples:
Sharp pain when you deeply inhale
Sharp pain that worsens with deep breathing might feel like breast pain when it is actually inflammation of deeper tissues due to a misalignment in the area where one of the ribs attaches to the sternum. When this happens, your lungs can’t properly expand when you breathe.
Pain on the sides of your breasts
If you’re feeling consistent pain on both sides of your breasts, you may also notice constipation. A chiropractor might determine that in the area just south of your breasts (aka your intestines), your body isn’t detoxifying as it should.
What happens when toxins aren’t expelled through the digestive tract is that they are reabsorbed and stored in fatty tissue. That accumulation then creates inflammation.
Nearly-constant breast achiness
Breast ashiness coupled with dry skin on your hands and shins could be due to a diet that lacks healthy fats. While it’s generally a good idea to avoid unhealthy fats (fried food, for example), healthy fats help build healthy cell walls whereas a lack of these fats may lead to inflammation.
Acupuncture for mental health and milk supply
As acupuncture becomes more mainstream in the Western world, many moms are turning to this 2,000 years-old ancient technique for everything from balancing hormones and supporting the endocrine system to aiding in mental health and increasing milk supply.
Hormones act as messengers in the body, sending information about sleep regulation, reproduction, emotional health and energy levels.
So, when there’s a hormonal imbalance, a lot of body systems can be affected. Cue energy dips, reduced libido, infertility, irregular periods and mood swings.
By activating certain points in the body through acupuncture, these systems are brought back into balance. A balanced system supports our mood, motivation and overall outlook on life.
Through a Chinese medicine lens, the root cause of all breastfeeding problems is a lack of blood, usually due to some sort of blockage in the acupuncture channels. The goal is to restore harmony within the body, as well as blood flow.
- SI 1: This point is on the outside corner of the pinky nail and helps improve mammillary filling, increase lactation, and prolactin levels. Great for low milk supply.
- GB 21: Located at the highest point on the shoulder, midway between the spine and the shoulder. Stimulation of this point helps promote the milk “let down” reflex.
We’d say the most empowering part of acupuncture is that unlike many medicines, acupuncture works to redirect energy in the body (qi) so that it can heal itself.
Breast massage for increased milk supply
Of course, don’t forget that breast massage is a great tip for producing more milk. The Lilu Massage Bra Gen 2 features Massage Cushions that mimic massage motions recommended by lactation experts, while the Rechargeable Controller turns the massage on/off and adjusts massage levels. A full battery lasts for 2 hours of pumping.