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Latching On

Experienced Moms CAN Learn New Tricks

February 12, 2015
By Stacey Sacco - Contributing Writer , OVParent

Before becoming a mother, my impression of breastfeeding was that it was "natural," in other words, easy. Nursing may be cheap, healthy, emotional and meaningful, but one thing it rarely is, is easy.

Eight years ago, when my first child was born, I cried through many nursing sessions in pain and frustration. We just didn't "get it." Then, a few weeks after he was born, we did. And he nursed until his second birthday, happily getting nutrition and comfort from it.

The learning curve was so much shorter for my second and third babies. My confidence going into feeding my fourth baby was high. Adjusting to the needs of four children wouldn't be easy, but at least I wouldn't struggle to feed her.

Article Photos

Iris, 3 months

Then she arrived. And never latched. At the hospital, we thought it was congestion as a result of meconium in her fluid. I started pumping and bottle feeding before we were discharged and continued at home. Even after a visit to a lactation consultant, she was getting almost no nutrition directly from me and was dependent on the expressed milk.

After five years of breastfeeding relationships with my other three children, I felt like a new mom again. Nothing was working the way it was supposed to. We were failing, and we couldn't figure out why. She wasn't tongue tied. There was more than enough milk at her disposal.

She was a full-term delivery with no complications.

We finally went to a lactation specialist in Columbus who immediately recognized the signs of too much tension in her muscles, joints and fascia as a result of being born too quickly. Several sessions of craniosacral therapy changed the way she fed.

This therapy is described by Dr. Alison Hazelbaker as "a light touch form of bodywork designed to release physical and energetic restrictions from soft tissue." While this therapy can be used for people of all ages to treat a wide variety of ailments, from fibromyalgia and migraines to PTSD and anxiety, the Spirit of Healing Clinic in Columbus focuses on nursing babies.

For my infant, the therapist used light touch concentrated in areas of tension and applied very light pressure until a release occurred.

For actions that seemed to be almost non-existent, large changes could be seen in my daughter's posture and behavior. It was directly after one of these sessions that she latched and breastfed for the first time in her life.

Before this, I didn't know there was such a thing as being born "too fast" or that it could cause so many physical problems. I also had never even heard of craniosacral therapy until I signed consent for treatment papers. I didn't know that the fact she never stuck her tongue out meant she wasn't able to, and also meant that she couldn't maintain a latch that would access the food she needed.

It was so frustrating to know that everything she needed was available to her, yet she didn't have the ability to withdraw it from my body into her own. I felt like a failure as she gained miniscule amounts each week instead of becoming the roly-poly baby I usually have.

After therapy, at-home exercises, finger feeding and pumping, we turned a corner. Eventually, we eliminated bottles completely, and she started gaining weight like she should. It may have taken two months, but we finally found our stride in the nursing relationship. Now, six months later, you would never know that she struggled with the most basic of newborn survival skills.

Even after five years of breastfeeding, it was a physical and emotional challenge to nurse this baby. Every baby, birth and newborn experience can be different. Difficulties can occur when they are least expected. Experienced moms still need lots of support.

- Stacey Sacco of Martins Ferry blogs as Mama on Duty at



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