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A Mother’s Body and its Unique Quest for Baby’s Milk: A Reflection

Finding individualized nursing support through Mother’s Milk: Baby’s Body at Teaching Babies to Nurse gave my son and I the experience together that I had only dreamed of with our first child, whom I was unable to nurse, as I did not have the right support team in place. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, a chronic, but non-progressive neurological impairment, that affects my gait, balance, motor planning, and coordination. The combination of these characteristics, in conjunction with the unpredictable movement patterns and fragile nature of an infant, translates to an array of personal nursing difficulties related to efficiency and positioning, since my own range of motion is more limited, due to muscle tightness, spasticity and postural challenges.

In light of my significant physical obstacles, I needed patient professionals who believed in my goals and who were willing to “think outside of the lactation box,” while at the same time, being straightforward and honest about our progress and adjusting my mindset and perspective as needed throughout our winding journey of ups and downs. Ellen and Emily not only helped my son and I gain the skills and confidence we needed to nurse successfully, but also cared for our well-being in a sensitive, compassionate, and thoughtful manner. I always felt heard and that recommendations were made with our best interest at heart. We left each session with a clear, understandable plan of action, and from the initial visit through the months that followed, I felt secure in the knowledge that, given the support we were receiving, I was doing all I could do to benefit my baby and myself as his mom, no matter what our nursing outcomes were in the end. I was confident that my voice always mattered; my questions and concerns were always valid; and that advice and encouragement between visits would graciously be made available to me when needed. I found a level of respect for myself as a mom that isn’t always a given in my personal situation, and I felt that Ellen and Emily were equally interested to discover what my son and I could teach them along the way.

What stood out most in the Mother’s Milk: Baby’s Body sessions was the teamwork mindset that is so naturally conveyed. It’s so easy to feel alone and isolated in the midst of ‘new baby’ struggles, particularly when the ‘mom’ in you is already stretched so thin, and you feel as if you’re alone on a ‘wild goose chase’ for answers, traveling a path that’s already complicated. Ellen and Emily collaborate in looking at the whole picture of your little one, finding a way to keep it beautifully unified. They know that each mom-baby team is uniquely equipped and thrive on individualized problem-solving with you, rather than simply trying to push a certain opinion or method of approach. I found priceless peace of mind in knowing that Ellen and Emily could seamlessly combine their expertise while working with us, subscribing to the idea that nursing is a multifaceted skill that can be influenced by many different variables that may come into play for Mom, Baby, or both. The Mother’s Milk: Baby’s Body sessions at Teaching Babies to Nurse are unlike any support a nursing mom and baby will ever receive, and I can’t recommend Ellen and Emily’s services enough. My son and I are forever grateful for the tools that we have been given and will continue to utilize them going forward. With the help of these incredible collaborative skill-building opportunities, we overcame our own unique initial nursing hurdles by learning to trust each other in confidently moving down our own nursing path together. Further, we know that, while we no longer need support at the same level of intensity, Ellen and Emily are still right by our side, cheering us always.

An osteopathic perspective on a mother and baby’s unique journey

When I first met Jennifer and Coale, I knew we were about to embark on an exceptional journey together. Jennifer and Coale came to their first appointment accompanied by her service dog, her older son, and their nanny—as she would for all subsequent appointments. As we worked with the mother/baby dyad, the entourage in the background would remind us of the tremendous logistical challenges at hand…and getting to and from appointments was just the tip of the iceberg. Despite the array of obstacles, Jennifer and Coale dutifully followed their treatment plan week after week, coming in for regular adjustments and LC support, and worked hard to meet their nursing goals at home.

Osteopathy upholds that you cannot treat your patient in a silo. When treating an infant, you must also consider his mother’s situation, including her biophysical self, their social and cultural selves, and their living environment, all as a whole. For Coale, having spent the first chapter of his existence with relatively limited movements (both pre- and post-natally) due to his mother’s physical limitations had direct bearing on his structural findings. Coale came to us with what osteopaths affectionately call the “bowling ball head.” In other words, his cranial bones which normally should have free, unrestricted, synchronized movements (albeit subtle) were locked in place much like a bowling ball—quite far from the fluid movements you expect to find in a young infant. These restrictions are often found throughout the body as well and can hinder a baby’s ability to successfully carry out the complex, coordinated movements required for nursing. This was certainly the case for Coale, who struggled through our first session together and left me uncertain of his prognosis.

Nonetheless, with the entirety of my young patient’s situation in mind, I watched amazed as Coale slowly loosened and allowed more and more movement in his body. His progress marched alongside his mother’s dedication: Jennifer’s steadfast commitment to breastfeeding her son, against all odds, was beautifully rewarded by his response to our sessions together. Her confidence in him helped him adapt and thrive—again showing the importance of treating the child as a whole, and the mother/baby dyad as a unit.

Coale is now 6 months old and still nursing, growing, and thriving. It was an honor and a humbling experience to help usher Jennifer and Coale along their journey to a place of wellness in their breastfeeding relationship, and to witness the inseparable relationship between a mother’s milk and a baby’s body.


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