Physical Therapy For Infants

What do you do when your child is struggling to breastfeed? That was the question my partner and I were faced with. It wasn’t 10 minutes after our son was born someone came over and told us our newborn had a tongue tie. What made things worse was the lactation consultant in the hospital primarily told us he would struggle to breastfeed unless he had a release. Although he eventually had a release, and later a revision, his nursing was improving. Well meaning providers suggested body work along with exercises to train the tongue. Astoundingly the only providers offering such services in Philadelphia were chiropractors. I realized that needed to change.

Ascend Orthopaedics Now Helping Infants With Breastfeeding Problems

There are a number of reasons a child is not feeding well. Positioning, timing, and cues can all help. Lactation consultants can assist in all three of these areas and more. All of these things are external to the infant however. The infant who is having trouble feeding. Infants have varying levels of tone and ability to move their head and jaw. Examples of this are the child who is unable to hold their head in place, the one who has difficulty getting a deep latch, or the one who has difficulty generating enough suction. All these examples are children with difficulty adequately nursing. This is where Dr. Nichols can help you child internally while the parents continue external support.

Tongue Ties

Tongue ties have become more diagnosed in the past 10 years. Cutting the frenulum under the tongue is something people may consider. Research suggests that about 50% of infants improve, 25% remain the same, and 25% get worse after frenectomy. Also more women report a reduction in breastfeeding pain after frenectomy. This procedure removes tissue under the tongue with the goal of improving ability to suction and feed. Later in life a tongue tie can make speaking difficult. Therapy early or therapy as other issues arise can help regardless of your decision on frenectomy.

How Does Physical Therapy Help

Dr. Nichols works with infants to identify the physical components that limit the infant in their feeding. The limitations can be due strength or motion deficit in the neck, jaw, spine, or even hip or shoulder. Additionally as both an educator and provider to adults with jaw issues Dr. Nichols is uniquely positioned to identify jaw or tongue issues. A custom program that fits the caregivers routine with the child helps the infant eat better faster. If your goal is to nurse your infant identifying the deficits early can help reduce grief and lost sleep in the long run. 

Schedule with Dr. Nichols to assess what your infant needs assistance with to allow them to breastfeed and eat in general. We are here to help.