Feeding difficulties and tongue ties

Breastfeeding can be quite a challenge for new mothers who have an infant with attachment difficulties.  It can be caused by a tongue tie in the infant, but may also be due to a twist through the baby’s neck, jaw or shoulders which makes it difficult for the newborn to open their mouth very wide.  The child may also have some compression of the junction between the head and neck which is altering the function of the nerves supplying the tongue and mouth.

Cranial Osteopathic treatment is a natural hands on therapy that can address any tensions in the baby’s spine and head, and help with the alignment of the shoulders and chest.  This can allow the baby the best chance of opening their mouth wide enough to attach well and having unimpeded neural supply to the muscles within the mouth and tongue.

Cranial osteopathy may be beneficial in treating babies who have had the surgical or laser tongue tie release or frenectomy. We advise to see your osteopath as soon as poosible after the procedure as the treatment aims to:

  • help to re-establish a proper suction and tongue motion
  • encourage the baby to open the mouth adequately to create an effective latch and swallow
  • relax the throat
  • release and balance the strains and tension in the babies head, face and neck
  • relax the baby's nervous system 

Parents often ask what it is a Cranial Osteopath is doing, as it is not usually obvious from watching a treatment. This is not because nothing is happening, but, because the movements are slight. Small changes often make a big difference, especially in babies.

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Research:

Monaco A, Cozzolino V, Cattaneo R, Cutilli T, Spadaro A

Published in the Eur J Paediatr Dent Mar;9(1):37-42 2008

The study group showed a significant improvement of maximal mouth opening and maximal mouth opening velocity compared with no-intervention group.

G. Olivi, A. Signore, M. Olivi

Published in the Eur J Paediatr Dent Vol 13/2-12 p101-106 2012 

Early intervention is advisable to reduce the onset of alterations correlated to the ankyloglossia. A multidisciplinary approach to the problem is advisable. Collaboration with the speech therapist, thephysiotherapist/osteopath is fundamental to complete the therapeutic approach.

Lund GC, Edwards G, Medlin B, Keller D, Beck B, Carreiro JE

Published in the J Am Osteopath Assoc Jan;111(1):44-8 2011

During the OMT course, the twins' nipple feeding skills progressed to full oral feeding, which allowed them to be discharged to home without placement of gastrostomy tubes. The authors also review the literature and discuss the development of nipple feeding in premature newborns and infants and the use of OMT in the management of nipple feeding dysfunction.

Fraval M

Published in AAO Journal Summer 1998

Following osteopathic treatment the pre and post feed fat estimations of breast milk were comparable with the fat estimations from babies who were breastfeeding normally.

Herzhaft-Le Roy J, Xhignesse M, Gaboury I

Published in the J Hum Lact. 2017 Feb;33(1):165-172. doi: 10.1177/0890334416679620. Epub 2016 Dec 27.

 This study is one of the first to bring together lactation consultants and osteopaths to address infants with biomechanical sucking difficulties. Findings support the hypothesis that the addition of osteopathy to regular lactation consultations is beneficial and safe.