Updated: Dec 31, 2019
As an occupational therapist specializing in breastfeeding, I am uniquely situated to provide holistic services that decrease overall family burden, while helping families flourish and meet their breastfeeding goals.
In 2018, I began calling the unique services I was providing, therapeutically addressing both breastfeeding and infant development,"Breastfeeding Therapy". As an occupational therapist specializing in infant development and feeding, and volunteering in the community as a breastfeeding counselor, I noticed a gap in services for infants when it comes to breastfeeding. I began to answer this gap by combining breastfeeding support and occupational therapy during therapy sessions with my clients.
When an alternative/bottle feeding infant with oral sensory or oral motor challenges qualifies for therapy services in early intervention or other therapy settings, additional therapies are usually brought onto the team to address other deficits in the infant's functioning that are observed during the evaluation or feeding treatment sessions. (For instance a feeding therapist might notice that the child presents with symptoms of torticollis or low tone and recommend an occupational or physical therapy evaluation.) Infant feeding challenges are often not just isolated to oral functioning.
Without much effort, an alternative/bottle feeding family facing feeding difficulties is quickly surrounded by a team of therapists addressing multiple domains of development.
Breastfeeding families, on the other hand, are forced to build their own "team" if their breastfeeding challenges involve support beyond their lactation provider. This is often no small effort, requiring the vetting of various providers which could include a breastfeeding or lactation support person (such as an IBCLC), a feeding/oral motor or "suck training" therapist (often OT or SLP), and a "body worker" (often an OT, PT, or Chiropractor). (If there are even such providers available in their community.) Multiple appointments later, with a much lighter wallet (at a time when finances are often already tight) and a much fuller schedule, overwhelmed new breastfeeding families facing feeding challenges spend much of their time hopping around to various providers, rather than resting and enjoying precious time as a new family.
This ought not be.
Breastfeeding families facing feeding challenges should receive the same holistic support that alternative/bottle feeding families do.
Their options shouldn't be:
1) quit breastfeeding
2) spend excessive finances and energy in order to keep breastfeeding.
There is a better solution. And Breastfeeding Therapy is the answer.