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Breastfeeding and physiotherapy

Gillian Lirette

Gillian Lirette

BSc. PT, BPE, Pelvic Health


Monday, Jun. 1, 2020

You’ve just delivered a baby. Congratulations! You’re keen to breastfeed, as you’ve read that putting an infant on the breast within the first hour of their life is the best way to ensure a positive breastfeeding experience for both you and your child. This is a wonderful bonding time between you and your new baby.

Everything seems to be going well and you begin to feel like you’re getting the hang of this. But what happens if something starts to go wrong, such as your breast becoming red, swollen and painful? Or what if your baby isn’t latching well? Who do you turn to for help?

Pelvic health physiotherapists and breastfeeding

In general, physiotherapists are well-equipped to address issues involving:

  1. Managing inflammation
  2. Facilitating neurological reflexes
  3. Assessing neck and jaw dysfunction
  4. Adapting positioning for comfort and function

Though as always, your doctor should be your first point of contact, a trained pelvic health physiotherapist can also help both mom and baby with mechanical breastfeeding issues.

Pelvic health physiotherapists who have breastfeeding training can help assess and provide various treatments for breastfeeding moms who might be suffering from blocked ducts, mastitis, breast inflammation, postural tension or even wrist complications.

Mastitis can affect 20% of lactating women, or about 1 in 5. When this occurs, it usually happens within the first 6 weeks postpartum and is best to be treated within the first 24 hours. Since physiotherapy services can be accessed directly and are covered under most healthcare plans, this is a great resource you can turn to.

Physiotherapists can use various tools to restore normal milk transfer by reducing inflammation. These tools include ultrasound, latch adjustment, lymphatic massage, pump fitting and more.

Physiotherapy can help babies, too

Physiotherapists can also help your infant if they have torticollis (their head turned to one side), plagiocephaly (a flat spot on their head), tight jaw muscles, an uncoordinated suck, or if they’re having difficulty achieving a deep latch or a wide, open mouth for latching.

Physiotherapy for infants is considered one of the most effective forms of treatment for babies who need a little extra help with muscle control, balance, reaching milestones and more. A trained physiotherapist will evaluate your child’s needs and develop a personalized treatment plan for them to ensure they meet their goals.

While becoming a mom creates many new challenges, breastfeeding complications doesn’t have to be one of them. If you’re looking for breastfeeding support, consider consulting a trained pelvic health physiotherapist. We can help you address breastfeeding concerns so that you can enjoy your special bonding time with your new baby.    

For further guidance, contact a Lifemark clinic near you or visit our Pelvic Health page on Lifemark.ca.

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