September 25, 2013
Supportive Techniques for Biomechanical Challenges
When a baby's tongue and jaw do not align properly, sucking is less efficient and more effort. In addition to allowing the baby to find a comfortable position at breast and referring for body work to restore muscle balance, fingertip support or traction may be helpful. You may need to experiment with several types of support to see which works best for the individual dyad.
When lip seal is poor on one side of the face, drawing the cheek (a cm or so past the corner of the lips) toward the breast with a fingertip may help the baby transfer more milk.
When the jaw is asymmetrical due to torticollis or other restrictive intrauterine positions, the side that is more open may not function as well. Forward traction along the mandible toward the breast may be helpful.
Sublingual support (see Supporting Sucking Skills in Breastfeeding Infants, 3rd edition, page 342) or TMJ support may also help improve support and alignment of the tongue and jaw and improve sucking.
When you've identified the correct technique, the number of times the baby sucks before resting (sucking burst length) will increase and there will be more swallowing and milk transfer.
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