Updated: Jun 19, 2021
Babies are born with a 'blueprint' that tells them how to feed. It’s like they’re born with their brains already populated with this information so when they are born they know how to root, swallow, cry…etc. Trauma can cover up that blueprint making it tricky to access, as discussed in our blog ‘Babies & Reflexes’.
What is trauma?
Trauma is quite a scary word and often associated with catastrophe and the thought of our babies undergoing trauma is frightening. However, trauma is one of the most common reasons given for reflexes being interrupted. What is traumatic to one person won’t be to another and it’s not just physical or emotional, it can be experiential so for some families, a c-section can be experienced as traumatic but for someone else, it might not be. Trauma is very personal and just because on paper something is unlikely to be internalised as trauma this doesn’t mean for sure it won’t be.
trauma is one of the most common reasons given for reflexes being interrupted.
The big sticky note of trauma covering the feeding blueprint makes it difficult for babies to access these primitive feeding reflexes, so they start to compensate. Babies have an inbuilt drive to feed, it’s an act of survival and so they may start to engage different neural pathways to do just that.
They start to take a different path. And many of the structures that start to be engaged weren’t designed to do that so they start to compensate as well. It starts to snowball so one compensation leads to another….until who knows where it ends. For example, they didn’t manage to get that deep latch and so haven’t got a good seal so instead, they squeeze their lips tighter and clamp those gums together leading to the cobblestone appearance on the lips and painful feeding for you.
mothers know when something isn’t right with their baby, babies know when something isn’t right too.
Have you ever noticed you can sense when someone you are close to isn’t quite themselves? It’s not something they need to say but you can sense they are upset, angry or just not themselves. When we are dealing with trauma from birth or overwhelmed by the events in our lives we sense this and just like mothers know when something isn’t right with their baby, babies know when something isn’t right too. Mirror neurons are thought to play a part in this. Mirror neurons fire when a person sees something and it responds by causing a mirror reaction within. For example, if you stick your tongue out at a baby a mirror neuron can lead to them sticking their tongue out too.
Both mother and baby are involved in breastfeeding and it’s so important that the care and wellbeing of everyone involved in the feeding experience are taken into consideration and addressed. This is why we take so much care of mothers as well as their babies.