Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Babies have a pre-programmed drive to survive. They need to feed. So when a baby can’t feed it’s a sign that something is wrong.
If a baby can’t create a seal with their lips and tongue, they may clamp down to hold the nipple or areola with their jaw. Or they may grip with their lips often resulting in painful or inefficient feeding.
A traumatic birth can result in a baby having trouble breastfeeding.
How your birth went is often totally out of your control. You likely didn’t plan to have a ventouse delivery but circumstances meant it needed to happen.
A ventouse will use suction to help deliver your baby’s head and they may be left with a mark called a chignon for a few hours or days.
For babies to feed effectively, they need to be able to extend their head to lead with the chin which in turn brings the tongue forward. Ventouse will often cause an element of traction to be put through the neck of a baby, yet neck extension often needs those top vertebrae of the neck to be moving freely.
The tongue is anchored to the hyoid bone which moves up and forward during swallowing. The muscles attaching to the hyoid are used in the majority of mechanical breastfeeding behaviours and the ability of the hyoid to function depends on the position of the head and neck. It’s all connected!
So if you’re having trouble feeding, make sure your assessment includes a lactation consultant, tongue-tie practitioner and an osteopath to ensure every aspect is considered.