Is your baby having trouble breastfeeding? Do they have trouble feeding on one side but not the other? Do you notice any restricted movement in baby’s head and neck areas? Problems opening mouth? Swallowing? Breathing? Irritability? Fidgeting? Excessive crying? Slow weight gain? Spilling milk out the sides of their mouth when drinking from a bottle?
The symptoms may seem unrelated and have you scratching your head over the cause. They may also be the result of Ankyloglossia, commonly referred to as “tongue-tie.” Tongue-tie is a restriction in the membrane that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. It’s quite common and easy to detect in newborns.
The good news is that the muscular and fascial compensations from a tongue-tie can often be helped using gentle chiropractic and special touch therapy administered by a practitioner who specializes in pediatric bodywork.
What to Look For
First, inspect under baby’s tongue, specifically the membrane under their tongue. This little membrane is called the frenulum. Is it attached close to the front of the tongue? The membrane may be shorter, thicker or tighter than normal. Is baby’s tongue heart-shaped – a result of the frenulum pulling at the center of the tongue?
How can a little misshapen membrane cause so many problems, you might ask? When baby has a less than normal frenulum, it restricts the opening of their mouth and the tongue’s movements and can affect breastfeeding and bottle feeding, swallowing, comfort, weight gain, and even speech.
Tongue-tie isn’t something to ignore or put off treating, even though it can seem to self-correct as baby gets older. If ignored, tongue-tie could affect baby’s speech development and body alignment as months or years go by.
Other signs of tongue-tie:
● Clicking sound while breastfeeding
● Continually breaks suction while breastfeeding
● Chews instead of sucking the breast
● Difficulty lifting their tongue up or moving it from side to side
● Difficulty sticking out their tongue
● Not gaining enough weight
Tongue-tie can also affect new mothers who breastfeed:
● Nursing can be painful, specifically nipple pain and soreness
● Low milk supply
● Mastitis (inflammation of the breast)
Bodywork and Tongue-Tie
Tongue-tie could be caused by damage or strain to baby’s soft tissues (tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves) either in the uterus or during birth.
Traditional healthcare practitioners view tongue-tie as a problem that affects primarily the tongue, mouth, and jaw. Typically, when a healthcare provider discovers tongue-tie, surgery is recommended. The frenulum is snipped with scissors, releasing the tongue restriction and then viewing the problem to be fully resolved.
Bodyworkers take a different approach. Their view is that tongue-tie is a restriction not just to the tongue, mouth, and jaw, but to the entire body.
Tongue-tie can affect not only breastfeeding but baby’s total body alignment and development. When bodywork is applied, improvements are noticeable throughout baby’s head, neck, spine, and connective tissue (fascia) that surround all of the muscles, bones, nerves, arteries and veins, and internal organs of the body. Rather than looking at just the short-term goal, bodyworkers work at resolving restrictions through the application of bodywork techniques resulting in a long-term solution.
What Exactly is Bodywork?
Bodywork is a gentle touch by experienced hands that are attuned to a baby’s individual body and needs. Bodywork therapy is holistic in nature, incorporating more than one technique. The Chiropractic Place for Mommy and Me has a team of trained bodyworkers and pediatric chiropractors, using craniosacral therapy, myofascial release, dynamic body balancing and pediatric-specific chiropractic adjustments with their tongue-tie patients.
They usually begin with a visual analysis, noticing not only the tongue, jaw, and neck, but head and neck placement in relation to the spine, symmetry of cheekbones, eyes, ears, which way the chin points when baby opens their mouth, if their hips curve to one side when picked up, if baby is only rolling over to one side, and much more.
Their training and experience give them insights into baby’s posture, pulls, snags, and misalignments that have manifested whether in their bony structure or their fascial structures. The Chiropractic Place for Mommy and Me recognizes the many fascial restrictions of tongue-tie within baby’s head, cranium, neck, and body.
“With bodywork, we can help ease that tension while helping to improve the function of baby’s muscles and joints for greater range of motion – especially within their jaw, opening their mouth – and enhancing their coordination to suck, swallow, and breathe,” explains Dr. Michelle Parker. Dr. Parker is the only certified pediatric chiropractor in Parker County at her clinic in Aledo, Texas, and is also an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She and her staff have seen successful outcomes with hundreds of tongue-tie babies that have received treatment in their office.
Explaining the Techniques
Here are some brief descriptions of each of the techniques Dr. Michelle Parker and Dr. Darcy Goode use in treating tongue-tie and how they help release the muscular and fascial restrictions that are associated with tongue-tie restrictions:
CranioSacral Therapy. CST addresses functions of the craniosacral system, the membranes and fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. By using a soft touch, CST identifies restrictions in the fascial system of the central nervous system. These fascial restrictions can affect the musculoskeletal system, organs, and vascular (blood vessel) structures, as well as tissue of the central nervous system, keeping those tissues constricted. CST therapy encourages baby’s body to self-correct, bolstering natural healing.
Myofascial Release. When we experience even slight tissue damage—due to a physical injury—pain signals are sent to the spinal cord which then trigger the muscles around the injury to contract in order to provide support and protection for the surrounding tissues. This response, left unchecked, creates pain as more blood flow is restricted to the contracted area. As more signals are sent, more muscles tighten to protect a growing area of pain. Myofascial release techniques (MFR) are designed to go in and smooth out those tight knots, returning the fascia to its normal fluidity. In MFR specifically for babies, a gentle, sustained pressure is applied to points of restriction, allowing baby’s connective tissue to release.
Pediatric-specific chiropractic adjustments. A newborn baby’s vertebra can get out of alignment as a result of the birth process or their in-utero positioning. The misalignment (called “subluxation” in chiropractic lingo) can be very traumatic on an infant’s spine. Dr. Parker provides gentle chiropractic care for infants and children and their pre- and post-natal mothers. Chiropractic adjustments help to prevent or return proper body alignment, balance, and development, improving baby’s overall health and specific health issues like tongue-tie.
Experts in Pre- and Post-Natal Care
Dr. Parker and Dr. Goode have specific chiropractic expertise in working on muscles and tendons that cause pain, discomfort and a lack of range of motion. This makes them a great choice for moms with infants who might be showing signs of tongue-tie and breastfeeding constraints.
Doctors Parker and Goode are also both certified in the Webster Technique, a chiropractic-specific analysis and treatment for pregnant mothers to help ensure a balanced pelvis and musculature before baby is born.
Dr. Parker is certified by the Academy Council of Chiropractic Pediatric Association in pediatric chiropractic for pre- and postnatal specialties. She is the only chiropractor with the C.A.C.C.P certification in Parker County.
The Chiropractic Place for Mommy and Me also partners with Dewlene Broyles, RN, IBCLC for “mom support” to bring The Nursing Tribe of Parker County, a free breastfeeding community group, to Parker County. Join the group on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to meet local families and gain more knowledge about breastfeeding.
Centrally Located near Fort Worth
The office of The Chiropractic Place for Mommy and Me is in Aledo, Texas, just 15 minutes west of downtown Fort Worth or 10 minutes east of Weatherford, Hudson Oaks, and Willow Park. The clinic serves these counties: East Parker County, Tarrant, Parker, Erath, Palo Pinto, Hood, Wise, Denton, Dallas, and Johnson.
Feel free to visit our social media pages on Instagram @TheChiroPlaceforMommyandMe or Facebook @TheChiroPlace to get a feel for our atmosphere and how we work with mothers and children. We are proud to offer a family-friendly, kid-approved, and mother-oriented space to the community. Give our office a call to get your baby’s appointment scheduled today at 682-214-0408.