- Dr. Jason Rountree
Laser therapy for new moms
It has been a while since I last posted a new blog, sorry about that! Today I'm going to be talking about laser therapy for new mothers. New moms have so much put on their plates in those first couple of weeks of having a child. First, the logistical difficulties, emotional difficulties, the lack of sleep, getting up with the baby, having to arrange childcare, just so many different things happening. Now couple that with the physical side of trying to feed and raise this child while you have a job or everyday life issues going on, it can get really complicated, really fast. So what I would like to talk about is how laser therapy can be safely used to help new moms through some of these physical problems and challenges that they face in the early stages of having a baby.
Now if this is your first time joining me, we're not talking about laser surgery here. We're talking specifically about safe, non-invasive light that is used at the right intensity and the right color of light to stimulate the body's tissues to naturally improve their performance or healing. How can that apply to new moms? Well, let's look at some of the things that new moms are usually going through.
New moms go through a lot of challenges
There's always some level of birth trauma. A C-section is pretty traumatic and recovery from that, in most cases, goes quite well, but sometimes people are left with some significant pain numbness. Sometimes folks are slow to heal. Even with natural birth, healing can sometimes be delayed or difficult for a whole host of reasons. And then there's nursing and the challenges of nursing and getting enough milk production. Chapped and sore nipples, difficulty sleeping while nursing, getting your own sleep, getting the baby to get sleep, being up all the time.
Often that leads to neck and back problems as well. And then, on top of all that, nursing moms can't take a lot of different medications to help with any pain levels.
But that's not all. Even with the joy of a new, wonderful baby, emotionally, this is exhausting, this is draining. And a lot of mothers deal with postpartum depression too, and that is just worsened by these physical factors. So how can laser therapy help? Well without getting into any of the depression and anxiety issues, which laser has been shown to be useful for, I just want to talk to you about the physical side of things today.
Improving milk production with light therapy
First milk production. Now milk production can be very, very difficult, especially for first-time moms. And there's not a whole lot you can do to stimulate better milk production. Getting your diet right, reducing stress, getting sleep, all those things definitely help but they are already difficult as a new mother. But there's not a drug you can take to boost milk production. Now it turns out that we have some early evidence that laser therapy can stimulate milk production, Now we're waiting for a couple of new human studies to come out, but right now we have animal studies that say that laser therapy can even be beneficial for improving milk nutritional quality. There's good potential for light therapies to be very useful and stimulating the body's natural milk production, and it's totally safe for the milk. And it's totally safe for the mom. It's totally safe for the baby.
Now another milk production complication is mastitis. Mastitis is an infection in the milk glands. And this is very painful. It definitely interrupts nursing, reduces sleep, makes baby less happy as well. Many times has to be treated with antibiotics and of course, in most cases, you don't want to be on medications that pass things onto the babies. For this one, we do have a neat animal study that says that adding light therapy to an antibiotic regimen of treatment for mastitis can improve recovery rates by 24%.
Laser therapy for chapped nipples
Laser therapy has been studied since the 1960s, and many of the first studies evaluated wound healing. When it comes to chapped and traumatized and sore nipples for nursing mothers, laser therapy can actually work quite well. And we have three human studies that have shown positive results on using light to help nipples heal up and become less painful. These studies say that light therapy is an effective tool in accelerating the healing of nipple trauma. Laser therapy was considered effective for treating nipple lesions and for breastfeeding women with pain, providing relief and prolonging exclusive breastfeeding,
This is kind of a big deal, because again, there aren't a lot of medication options. So, what do you do when you have chapped skin? Think about chapped lips. Most of us put a lip balm or something on. Well, when you are nursing, you have limited options. You can't just use any topical to help the skin, because then the baby's exposed to whatever that is. If they don't like the way it tastes, even if it's safe, then they're going to be upset. They're not going to be able to nurse as well. So again, you're caught in this difficult place. Being able to use just a few sessions of light therapy on that traumatized nipple can help to bring down pain and improve nursing and get the baby back to eating like they should be.
Birth trauma and light therapy
One of the first things that I brought up was C-section recovery. Now recovering from a C-section in many cases goes just fine, but in some cases healing can be very slow, or could have leftover lingering pain/numbness. And so finding safe ways to help stimulate healing and reduce pain without affecting the mother's milk supply is very difficult. That's where light therapy comes into play as well. We've got several studies on C-section recovery in particular, and a lot of studies talking about post-surgical healing and recovery showing that laser can work quite well. These studies actually say that laser therapy "is an efficient method to reduce pain post C-section patients." They also say that laser therapy "is a good method to reduce post-operative pain due to the fact that it is safe and noninvasive." Laser therapy after C-section "has no serious effects on lactation and it helps to modulate metabolic processes" and promote wound healing post-surgery.
Now again, if you're new to laser therapy and you haven't quite grasped what we're talking about, we're not talking about the burning and cutting lasers that are used for surgeries, but a lower intensity laser that helps to stimulate healing, stimulate better circulation, better oxygen delivery to the cells, and actually helps those cells produce more energy. It speeds up the metabolism of cells, meaning that they start to work better. So obviously for things like wound healing, nipple healing, and milk production, that makes sense. What if you apply that to the neck and back pain that mothers have too? Because again, we're limited on medication options. So, if we take this technique, this light therapy, or laser therapy and use it on neck and back problems we know that it can be extremely successful. And we have so many studies backing that up, there are studies published as far back as the nineties that show good results with knee and neck and back and shoulder pain. Plus there's more and more every year, now more than 4,000 studies about light therapy.
If you're a new mom or you know a new mom, maybe it's time to check out Montana Laser. We will do a thorough evaluation to see if we can help you at our patient-centered, family-friendly clinic in Kalispell. Our K-Laser therapy solutions might be able to help with the pain of chapped nipples, wound healing, mastitis, and neck and back pain. We accept most insurances and can usually see patients within just a few days, but call now because we are busier and busier every week. Thanks!