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Breastfeeding Support Using a Physiotherapy Approach

The physiotherapy approach to breastfeeding is very much about the "HOW" of breastfeeding.  Physiotherapists are experts in evaluating and restoring physical function and in this case, feeding is the function, but involves two people - mum and baby - who are together, considered the "dyad".

Mother Baby Bonding

Helping Mum

  • Therapeutic ultrasound application to decrease pain, inflammation and swelling in the area containing the blocked duct/mastitis/engorgement

  • Teaching manual lymphatic drainage massage

  • Evaluation of postures and positioning to prevent and treat musculoskeletal pain associated with being a new mum such as wrist, neck, shoulder and mid-back pain

Helping Baby

  • Evaluation of suck mechanics before and while feeding

  • Evaluation of primitive reflexes and muscle tone, which may impact successful feeding

  • Screening and recommendations for treatment for torticollis and plagiocephaly (flat-head) which may also impact successful feeding

  • Evaluation of the head, jaw and neck muscles looking for asymmetries that may affect obtaining a good latch

  • Evaluation of latch itself



Due to scope of practice restrictions in Ontario, as a Registered (Licensed) Physiotherapist, I am not permitted to address breastfeeding issues related to milk supply, feeding schedules, prescription of feeding supplements or prescription devices such as breast pumps or nipple shields.  A certified Lactation Consultant is the best professional to help address and advise on these issues.

In Ontario,  a physiotherapist must work in collaboration with either a physician, midwife or nurse practitioner to address blocked milk ducts, therefore a referral is required for service.

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