Using Craniosacral Therapy to Improve Breastfeeding

Since breastfeeding requires a baby has full range of motion with his tongue, jaw and neck, some babies may require a little extra assistance to relax these areas and their central nervous system. One technique is Craniosacral Therapy. How does it work and how can it help improve breastfeeding and other challenges new parents face?

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  • The Best Online Breastfeeding Resources

    There’s a lot of breastfeeding information online. What are the most reliable sites for the best breastfeeding support? What are some great sites where you can network with other breastfeeding moms?

  • Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mom

    Maternity leave was great, but now it’s time to return to work… with your pump. How can you make this experience run as smoothly as possible? What challenges will you face and how can you overcome them? What are your rights?

Episode Transcript

The Boob Group
Using Craniosacral Therapy to Improve Breastfeeding

Jennifer McIsaac : Since breastfeeding requires and a baby has full range of motion with his tongue, jaw and neck. Some babies may require a little extra assistance to relax these areas and their central nervous system. One technique is Craniosacral therapy. I am Jennifer McIsaac, a massage therapist and holistic health practitioner and owner of JM Therapeutics in San Diego, California. Today, we will be discussing how Craniosacral therapy can improve breastfeeding? This is the Boob Group, Episode 13.

[Theme Music/Intro]

Robin Kaplan : Welcome to the Boob Group broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. I am your host, Robin Kaplan. I am also a certified lactation consultant and owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center. At the Boob Group we are your online support group for all things related to breastfeeding and we would love to become a part of our show. All you have to do is visit our website and send us comments or suggestions through our contact link or check out our brand new Facebook page. Today, I am joined by three fabulous panelists in our studio. Ladies would like to introduce yourself.

Jessica Hilt : I am Jessica Hilt. I am 36 years. I am a Technical Outreach Coordinator and Fiction writer. I have one child and she just
turned 1 year.

Christina Williams : I am Christina Williams. I am 33 years old. I am in Medical education. I have one daughter and she is 6 months old.

Susan Carrasco : Hi, I am Susan Carrasco. I am an Occupational Therapist, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. I have one daughter and she is almost 4 months old.

Robin Kaplan : Thank you for introducing yourselves.

[Theme Music]

[Featured Segments: The Best Online Breastfeeding Resources]

Robin Kaplan : Before we begin our show today we will hear from Amber McCann talking about the best online breastfeeding resources.

Amber McCann : Hello, Boob Group listeners I am Amber McCann an international board-certified lactation consultant and owner of Nourish Breastfeeding support just outside of Washington. D.C. I am here to answer some of your most common questions when it comes to finding quality breastfeeding resources online such as where is the best place to connect with other breastfeeding mothers? Today, we are going to be highlighting my very favorite online resource that allows us to connect directly with other mothers, the Facebook page for the leaky boob which can be found at The leaky boob was started by Jessica Martin Weber in 2010 to share recently because of the health challenges with the youngest child; she had been pumping and doesn’t have pretty significant supply. Constantly leaking or overflow “Hey, Mom your boob is leaking again” it became a family joke to call her, the leaky boob. It was during that time she wrote a piece about breastfeeding in public on their family blog and it got a quite a bit attention outside of the regular readers. With the encouragement of her friends, she decided to start a site, dedicated specifically to breastfeeding and the leaky boob was born. Well, the leaky boob also features a fantastic blog highlighting real and honest perspectives on breastfeeding and motherhood. It’s the Facebook page where the diverse group of mothers come together to ask questions or experiences, get to know each other, that’s where the leaky boob really shines.

This is the place where you can say about breastfeeding either “I am just not sure I can do this one more day” or “I have never experienced anything so exhilarating in all my life” and you are equally met with the sense of “I am not alone” So, the next time it’s 3.00 am and you are up from the middle of the night feeding wondering if that gulping sound your little one is doing means he is either an alien or absolutely and incompletely normal breastfeeding child. Check out the leaky boob Facebook page at Thank you for listening. I am Amber McCann. I would love for you to check out my website at for information on my business and a little bit more about where to get connected with great online breastfeeding support or join me on my Facebook page at And if you have a great online breastfeeding resource you would like us to know about please send me an email to or share it on the Boob Group Facebook page. Be sure to listen to the Boob Group each week for more fantastic conversations about breastfeeding and how to find great breastfeeding support.

[Theme Music]

Robin Kaplan : So, today on the Boob Group we are discussing how Craniosacral therapy can be used to improve your breastfeeding experience? Our expert Jennifer McIsaac is a massage therapist and holistic practitioner as well as the owner of the JM Therapeutics in San Diego, California. So, Jennifer list out the basics, what is Craniosacral Therapy?

Jennifer McIsaac : A Craniosacral therapy has its roots in Craniolastopathy and what is, is the system of techniques and diagnostic tools that really focuses on the soft tissue structures that surround the brain and the spinal cord as well as the nerves. And by using just such a light force because it interfaces directly with the whole central nervous system it can relax the brain and the body in for less time than any other technique I have tried.

Robin Kaplan : And you have mentioned the soft touch and that’s kind of how I described it to my patients when I, my clients when I recommend seeing a Craniosacral therapist. How is it that, first of all how much pressure would you describe that you are using as well how it is possible that simple light touch can make such a difference?

Jennifer McIsaac : Yeah, the weights are between 1 and 5 grams, so 5 grams is the weight of the nickel so we may be as light as the 5th of that weight and the reason especially in infants that it works so well is one because their connective tissue is so soft. There is a lot of good communication in the nervous system. And when we are working on such specific structures you don’t need a lot of, you don’t need a lot of force, that’s right there.

Robin Kaplan : And that’s fantastic. And just a little bit about you, what type of training did you receive? And did you need extra hours to actually specialize in working on infants?

Jennifer McIsaac : Absolutely, with Craniosacral therapy because since its inception, it been used quite extensively on young children and infants. Really from the time you take your first introductory workshop you are getting information about Pediatrics and the difference between the skulls and the nervous systems of newborns as well as those of adults and how we go through different changes throughout our lives. And then you start getting more once you get into your 2nd, 3rd and 4th levels and to do specifically for Pediatrics there are 2 Pediatrics courses that you can take and it’s about 50 hours’ worth of supervised contact time where you are working with advance therapists with not just the infants and the children but also with the whole family.

Jessica Hilt : My daughter had a really hard time latching when I was first trying to breastfeed her, how would this kind of therapy have helped her?

Jennifer McIsaac : Yeah, it really depends on what’s the nature of the latch problem. You know you can see 10 different newborns with something that seems to be the same type of problem but then wants to get in there we start to evaluate the membrane structures, the palette, the tongue and really all the way down into the sacrum. You may find that the road that each of these infants took to get to that area is completely different. And usually what we do is we go ahead and starts with a latch and we will see you know, where fingers are being poked to into their mouth that their intentions on one side typically that’s kind of where the force of the suction type tends to go. And also just checking the jaw, seeing so many new bourns with giant points you know, in those tiny little jaw muscles.

Robin Kaplan : I know that you guys took your babies to Craniosacral therapy and so why, why was it that you sorted this out?

Susan Carrasco : I originally started out because my daughter was born with her tongue-tied and she had that her frenulum clipped and we were having lots and lots of issues breastfeeding even after that clipping had taken place. So, we just needed the extra support to help her learn how to use that muscular and to relax, she had a lot of tightness in her jaw and then other areas so it was really beneficial.

Robin Kaplan : Yeah, how about you Christina?

Christina Williams : My experience was similar to Susan’s, my daughter had her tongue-tied clipped also about one week and we went to Craniosacral therapy when she was about 3 weeks old. And it really helped her relax her jaw muscle she had a really strong Gag reflex and it was really helpful for her to have that relaxed as well.

Robin Kaplan : And nice to see Jessica you were actually shaking your head and nodding I didn’t realize that all three of you had babies who had tongue ties?

Jessica Hilt : Yeah, it’s amazing I can’t believe when you are having conversations with people on difficulties in breastfeeding, how
many people have went and had to get a tongue-tied clipped. It’s pretty remarkable.

Robin Kaplan : And so when you took your babies to this Craniosacral therapy appointment, what did it look like?

Jessica Hilt : It looked like the most calm, beautiful thing ever. In fact, the first time we went she was about 3 weeks old may be, 2 weeks old and she had not been sleeping at all and she slept through the whole first session and I think like a 2 hour nap afterward and we were all there, my mother was in there, my husband and we were all like “Wow!”

Robin Kaplan : That’s awesome.

Jessica Hilt : It completely relaxed. It was beautiful and was very, very gentle you know.

Susan Carassco : I was very nervous because my daughter had severe colic and was crying all the time and I thought I am gonna bring her in here and she is gonna scream her head off and we are gonna get nothing done. And it was the opposite of that. I was so nervous walking into it and she slept through the whole thing. That was the first time I had more than 2 hours to sleep and still the same merely tiresome for 2 hours. She slept great that day and it was wonderful.

Robin Kaplan : That’s great, Jennifer what typically happens at a Craniosacral therapy appointment and how long does it typically last for?

Jennifer McIsaac : Yeah, it really once again depends on the baby and how upset he or she is coming into the appointment and I personally schedule my time to allow for extra, extra time just in case we need to let the baby get little bit more comfortable with what’s about to happen. I think it’s really important to give the infants their space, let them express their happiness or unhappiness about being there and let them kind of relax in the nice environment, nice music going, the lights are dim so it’s a very relaxing experience for mom and babies. And the treatment sometimes can you know, the actual time of doing work can only, is usually about may be 20 to may be 30 minutes rest of the time can be evaluation and then letting our work kind of settle in, giving them a few minutes may be having mom nurse for few minutes, we can chuck to see the progress. Then we come and do a little bit more work and then just you know evaluate from there.

Jessica Hilt : And all of the, would you call, are they called manipulations or massage or what exactly because you know I wanna it call it the correct thing but when your hand is on the baby is it only on the outside do you reckon in the mouth as well?

Jennifer McIsaac : Yes, I work inside the mouth. I work on the head. I work along the spine and even sometimes we are working down into the pelvis for them. And I think to use the term like a soft tissue manipulation is a pretty accurate way to describe what we are doing. I think it goes beyond what you would think of with massage and definitely if you have seen a Craniosacral treatment
it kind of looks like our hands are just sitting there for 45 minutes and we are not doing anything because we don’t have to use a lot of force and the movements that we are feeling for are very, very subtle.

Robin Kaplan : I took my son to a Craniosacral therapist when he was actually 4.5 years and we were working on tummy issues and sensory issues. And he loved it and so that actually sold me on it as recommending it for my babies because my son was so sensitive to touch and he just melted like butter on her table. And I was like well, if they can do that to my son who is 4.5 year old there is a very chance it’s gonna be very helpful for moms of little infants. So, I have heard stories like Susan’s and Christine’s over and over again that their babies melt on the table, just fall asleep into this peaceful you know, essence almost. Okay, very cool and just another question about working in the mouth as well what are you feeling for in the mouth when you are working in there?

Jennifer McIsaac : We are feeling for a lot of different things. Sometimes I’ll come in and when I’m just evaluating force the quality of the suck do I feel like my fingers been drawn up into the top of the palette. What do I feel the tongue is doing? Do I feel like the whole jaw itself is rotated as one side tighter than the other? Then I am also feeling for the co-ordination of the movement but then also I am feeling for the different, the way the bones and sores meet together on top of the palette. There is some tiny little muscles on top of the soft palette that sometimes you can get restrictions there and it actually pulls the back of the palette up. You know, is there is a some sort a symmetry that I feel up onto the bones of the har palette and to the ancillary bones? Is one coming up higher than the other? Does it feel like it’s shearing to one side or the other so there is lots of a thing that we are feeling for?

Robin Kaplan : Okay, and ladies before you went what were you nervous about walking in there? I mean, Christine you mentioned that your baby was gonna scream the whole time when she was in there?

Christine Williams : That and I was expecting, I was afraid that it was gonna be like a Chiropractic appointment. You see these images people giving that necks cracked and I was very curious to what was really gonna happen. So, that’s the image I had in my head but it was nothing like that.

Susan Carassco : I had, had some exposure because of what I do in my profession to knowing a little bit about Craniosacral therapy so, I wasn’t necessarily fearful but I was in treat that how this is going to help my baby breastfeed better because I had most often really thought of it for adults to be honest with you. I didn’t realize that it could do such wonderful things for babies and it definitely it did.

Robin Kaplan : Alright, when we come back we will discuss how Craniosacral therapy can help us other challenges other than breastfeeding and also how to possibly convince a skeptical family member, Pediatrician that a Craniosacral therapy is needed. So will be right back.

[Theme Music]

Robin Kaplan : Welcome back everyone. We are here with Jennifer McIsaac talking about Craniosacral therapy. So Jennifer, in your experience how often a baby should be seen and be treated with a Craniosacral therapy?

Jennifer McIsaac : Yeah, that’s a really good question and you know, once again it depends upon the baby. It depends on what’s going on you know, sometimes there can be some problems with birth related traumas, sunny side up deliveries you know, complications with vacuum, extraction forceps. And so sometimes when you are working with infants that also have those issues going on I believe the lusts is more and I like to be as non-invasive and let things settle in because that’s one thing about infants is they are perfect for this work because they are so programmed to reorganize. Everything about the body is about learning and interrogating sensation and you know, and so they are in the perfect position to receive this work. Typically, for just dealing with the mouth coordination issue that’s coming from a frenulum you can expect that you are gonna need to be seen for about 2 to may be 3 visits.

Robin Kaplan : Okay, ladies I know when I find I go to the Chiropractor or Acupuncturist by often feel and see these great results immediately kind of like you are talking about Jennifer’s as well. And then in the next few days I find some of those results were off a little bit like, I take two step forwards and one step back. And so did you notice this pattern with your babies after Craniosacral therapy and how long did it take your babies to get the result that you were looking for? Or have you even you know, arrived at those results yet? What would say Susan, I see you nodding your head over there?

Susan Carrasco : Well, I think I really saw results immediately definitely, that first we had. She just felt so much more relaxed but like you said then a few days went by, in my case couple of weeks then I noticed her tongue wasn’t coordinating as well as it was for that few days after the first visit. So, we are actually still working with a therapist and every day I feel like that she goes, now we’re just going once every few weeks, I see you know positive results. I always tell people she is more comfortable in her own skin. I don’t how else to best describe it but the feeding has gone better, definitely less crying and she just seems to be more happy and comfy.

Robin Kaplan : Yeah, it’s kind of like a tune up.

Susan Carrasco : Yeah, exactly.

Robin Kaplan : How about you Christina?

Susan Carrasco : Well, you know, I had immediate results and I did notice after a week or two things got little more relaxed you know she wasn’t quite, quite on par with what she was doing before. Going back for 3 times and by the third time I have seen those results last the whole time.

Robin Kaplan : And then Jennifer besides breastfeeding how do you treat infants with Craniosacral therapy? What are the other reasons that parents bring their baby to you?

Jennifer McIsaac : I see a lot of places carefully infants with shaping heads and with our results and with using the helmet is it costs about the same and it takes about the same amount of time. And I do get Pediatrician referrals for that as well, also infant torticollis is the big issue that we see.

Jessica Hilt : Would you describe that please?

Jennifer McIsaac : Yeah, with infant torticollis, it basically means wryneck, the muscle tissue on one side of the neck in the head tends to get constricted and so it pulls the head off to one side and the other. This is something that if left untreated then what you can see is the muscles on the shorten side may not grow, grow normally and so that could become a more or less permanent condition. And I find out if I can get in and work with the infants you know, right away then usually like one to two sessions we can clear up the problem and it never comes back.

Robin Kaplan : Then again because a lot of times when they are getting the helmet when they are like a year old and so by then they you know, it’s like they have a flatter head and lots of other issues and so you are saying if the parents had the recommendation earlier on they may not have to go down the road?

Jennifer McIsaac : Right, absolutely and a lot of times the earlier we can go and start intervene the faster the recovery is and the less time it takes.

Robin Kaplan : How about working on the gut as well we have so many fussy, fussy babies, do you find that something Craniosacral therapy can help with this as well?

Jennifer McIsaac : Yeah, Craniosacral therapy can help with that. One of things, one of the complications that I see a lot with gut issues on is that the babies have some sort of irritation or allergy to something else and then that is triggering some of the intestinal you know, the intestinal issues and the colic as well.

Robin Kaplan : It’s really kind of figuring out what the route of the problem is it may not be something that needs bodywork but just removing something from the diet or just seeing what’s the offender.

Jennifer McIsaac : Okay.

Robin Kaplan : Jessica you had a question?

Jessica Hilt : Jennifer, I am the skeptic. How would you convince me that Craniosacral therapy would work for my daughter in particular with the breastfeeding issue?

Jennifer McIsaac : Yeah, in a breastfeeding issue usually I try to keep it simple for people to understand is that imagine you just went to the dentist and you had your mouth for 2 hours and your jaws are really sore. Now go eat some taffy, how does that feel? And a lot of what we experience as adult, infants are experiencing as well. They just don’t have the words to articulate it so instead they cry, they shake their head, and they notch their teeth.

Robin Kaplan : Not only family members or even just kind of convincing a mom but sometimes I come up with Pediatrician I actually have to convince as well because occupational therapy is covered. Sometimes we go that route rather than Craniosacral therapy. You said you do get referrals from Pediatrician have you essentially established relationships with them and that’s kind of how they,
they have bought into Craniosacral therapy?

Jennifer McIsaac : I have several clients and several moms who are physical therapist who have come into see me and usually the introduction comes through the parents that the Pediatrician has somehow had a personal experience or have seen the work with their patients. It’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of a therapy if you are a Pediatrician and you are seeing this infant with the spot and now all of a sudden they have gone in for 2 or 3 Craniosacral treatments. And now you can see that had changed shape it’s kind of hard to argue with those results.

Robin Kaplan : Absolutely, did you find Christina that it was hard to be convinced to go see a Craniosacral therapist or do you have any kind of nay sayers in your family or friends?

Christina Williams : I am always interested in alternative therapies so it wasn’t hard for me to make that decision and I think almost people in my life knew we are having such a hard time. Nobody was about say “what are you doing?” And you know, I was able to tell lot of people about our experience and I have had a couple people go and seek Craniosacral therapy for themselves so, I think it’s really great.

Robin Kaplan : Yeah, how about you Susan?

Susan Carassco : Yes, in fact I was probably the only one that was all for it so I had to convince you know, many members of our family but I think even after them seeing that first session, the results they were convinced as well so.

Robin Kaplan : Alright, fantastic. Well, ladies thank you so much for being our panelists and a huge thank you Jennifer for your insight into Craniosacral therapy and how it can improve breastfeeding.

Jennifer McIsaac : Thank you, thank you for having me.

Robin Kaplan : Sure.

[Theme Music]

[Featured Segment: Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Mom]

Robin Kaplan : So, before we end our show we will hear from Wendy Wright talking about breastfeeding tips for the working mom.

Wendy Wright : Hi, Boob Group listeners I am Wendy Wright an international board-certified lactation consultant and owner of Lactation Navigation in Colorado, California. I am here to answer some of your common questions about returning to work as a breastfeeding mother. One of the questions we routinely receive is what will I need from my employer so that I can return to work while breastfeeding? This is a great question and very, very important to discuss with your employer if at all possible before leaving from maternity leave. There are 3 items that your employer can provide that would be extremely helpful for your breastfeeding career. The first is a private space; this is probably a room with good lighting, an electrical outlet and a comfortable chair. This could be an office, a conference room or even a large supply closet. The only provision that is mentioned in the law is this is not a bathroom so any other room within your building that you would feel safe, secured, and clean would be great for breastfeeding and pumping well at work. The other item that your employer should provide is flexible break times to use for pumping. The first few months back at work you will need to pump approximately every 3 hours. That looks like two breaks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon plus pumping on your lunch hour. This is a great way to maintain your breast milk supply to make yourself feel comfortable during the day and provide enough milk for your infant for the following day before your infant starts solids. The last item that your employer can provide so that you can return to work easily while breastfeeding is the supportive company policy. Often times this is over looked. However, it’s not simply enough to have an agreement between the HR, individuals and the employee who is pumping at work. It’s an excellent idea to have a company policy so that the other employees are entitled to the same rights. So, that the managers, the supervisors and peers, all know what to expect, and so that your rights are protected. Sample policies can be found on my website at Thanks so much for listening today, visit the website for information about my business Lactation Navigation and be sure to listen to the Boob Group for fantastic conversations about breastfeeding and breastfeeding support.

Robin Kaplan : Thank you to all of our listeners. I hope you all visit our website and our Facebook page to offer your stories about experiences with Craniosacral therapy. If you have any questions about today’s show or the topics we discussed call our Boob Group hotline at 619-866-4775 and we’ll answer your question on an upcoming episode. Coming up next week we will be talking with Paige Plihal about babywearing and breastfeeding. Thanks for listening to the Boob Group “because mothers know breasts.”

This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Suggestions and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. For such information in which areas are related to be accurate it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.


[End Of Audio]

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