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The content on this website (http://sdbfc.com) is the property of Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC, except in the case of guest blog posts, which have been posted with permission of the authors credited.

The information and opinions provided on this blog are not a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a qualified medical professional; nothing contained on this website shall be presumed or shared as medical advice at any time.

Links to other websites and blogs that may be of interest to you, the reader, are provided; this does not imply endorsement of or collaboration between Robin Kaplan and the owners/authors of those websites and blogs.

Monday
Mar312014

Weaning from Supplemental Feedings

Written by Danielle Blair, MS, IBCLC http://www.gaithersburgbreastfeeding.com

This is Part Two in our supplementation series.  Don’t miss Part One: I'm Told my Baby Needs Supplementation...Now What?

 

If you were instructed to offer supplemental feedings shortly after birth, it can be challenging to know when your baby no longer needs extra food.  You will be working closely with your baby's pediatrician, and hopefully an IBCLC as well, to determine how baby is progressing.

 

The Why May Determine the When...

The reason for supplementation will most likely determine when supplements will stop.  Some conditions, such as low blood sugar and jaundice, are resolved relatively quickly with good management.  In these cases the doctor may instruct you to stop supplements once the problem is solved.  Longer-term supplementation, such as for a premature baby, baby with feeding challenges, or a mom working to increase her milk supply, will likely require a longer weaning process.  In both cases, though, watching the baby for signs of effective breastfeeding will be an important part of baby's care.

 

How can I tell if my baby is breastfeeding well?

As your milk volume increases and your baby gets better at breastfeeding, you may start to notice swallowing, either audible swallowing or deep sucking with a pause as the jaw drops.  (Your IBCLC can show you what this looks like.)  Feedings should be comfortable, without nipple pain during or between feeds.  Your breasts may feel full before a feeding and softer after, although this may be less noticeable after the first few weeks of life.  Your baby may fall into a deep sleep after feeding, and will be satisfied for about 1-3 hours before asking to eat again.  If you have been offering supplements after breastfeeding, baby may refuse to take the extra food, or may go longer periods without rousing to nurse.  A well-fed baby will also have lots of dirty diapers...at least 5 wet and 4 poops after day 5.

If your baby is refusing supplements and is otherwise well, it may be a good time to check in with the pediatrician.  He/she may tell you to discontinue supplements on your own, or he/she may recommend a visit with an IBCLC to assess feeding before stopping supplements.  In addition to watching your baby nurse, an IBCLC can weigh your baby before and after breastfeeding to measure the milk intake.  This can be very helpful in determining whether supplements are still necessary.

 

I'm afraid to trust breastfeeding!

As mentioned earlier, there are many visible signs that a baby is breastfeeding well.  But if you have been offering extra feeds, it can sometimes be difficult to trust that your baby can get everything he needs directly from the breast.  It can also be hard to let go of a regimented feeding schedule (feeds exactly every x hours, always y amount), if that's what has been prescribed for your baby.  Healthy, fully-breastfed babies feed often, about 8-12 times each day.  Feeding times can vary...some very efficient babies only need 5 minutes to take several ounces of milk, while others prefer more leisurely nursing sessions.  (And most babies will do some short, focused feeds and some longer sessions.)  You should see lots of diaper output, and your baby should gain about 4-7oz per week in the early months.  Your doctor will weigh your baby at each visit...no need for a scale at home.

 

Need more reassurance? 

Stop by a breastfeeding support group that has a scale to weigh your baby before and after a feeding.  Also, checking in at these groups every few weeks can be very comforting, as you can see how much weight your baby is gaining over the weeks.  An IBCLC can help you be sure your baby is getting plenty to eat, as well.  If you struggle with milk supply or need to continue supplements, an IBCLC can help you with a plan that works for you and your baby.

 

For more information about supplementation reasons, methods, and choices, check out these The Boob Group podcast episodes: 

Exclusive Breastfeeding and Early Supplementation http://www.theboobgroup.com/exclusive-breastfeeding-early-supplementation/ 

Breastfeeding the Jaundiced Baby  http://www.theboobgroup.com/breastfeeding-the-jaundiced-baby/

When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned http://www.theboobgroup.com/when-breastfeeding-doesnt-go-as-planned/

Low Milk Supply: Donor Milk, Milk Banks, and Formula http://www.theboobgroup.com/low-milk-supply-donor-milk-milk-banks-formula/

 

About Danielle:

I first became interested in supporting breastfeeding mothers after receiving wonderful support when I was a new mother.  What began as a way to "pay it forward" grew into a passion and a calling.  I have been helping new mothers breastfeed their babies since 2004 and became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2010.  I am the owner of Gaithersburg Breastfeeding, LLC, offering home visits in Montgomery County, Maryland, and also work at a local hospital providing in-patient lactation services.  I have worked with mothers at all stages of breastfeeding, from the delivery room through toddlerhood and beyond.  I truly love supporting mothers as they learn the art of breastfeeding, and particularly enjoy watching moms develop the confidence that they can breastfeed their babies!

In addition to my work in lactation, I hold bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from West Virginia University.  Much of my professional work in engineering involved sharing scientific information in layman's terms, as well as teaching and training; these skills have served me well as I teach parents about their new babies.  I live in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, with my husband and two children.

Wednesday
Mar262014

Breastfeeding After a Tongue Tie Revision

To help parents understand a bit more about how tongue and lip ties can affect breastfeeding, over the next few weeks we will be featuring stories from moms whose babies experienced these challenges.  We would like to extend a HUGE thank you to the brave mamas who submitted their stories for our blog!  We know you went through a ton of challenges and we are so appreciative that you were willing to share your stories!  If you have a story you would like to share on our blog, please send it to robinkaplan@sdbfc.com.

For more information about tongue and lip ties and how they can affect breastfeeding, please see our article:Does Your Baby Have a Tongue or Lip Tie?

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Written by Cinda Brown

Lily and I had a rough start with our breastfeeding relationship from the very beginning. She latched soon after she was born and in that instant I felt sharp pain and noticed there was blood. She had caused damage with her first latch. We stayed at the hospital for about 24 hours, and in that time she had pretty severely damaged both of my nipples. I consulted with friends and professionals who had breastfed before, but didn’t get the kind of guidance I probably should have. No one’s fault, but no one had seen or experienced what I was going through so they gave me what they thought was very well meaning advice. Unfortunately I really needed to see an IBCLC, but I didn’t know that such a person existed.


 

After 2 rounds of mastitis, one being 7 days postpartum with 104 degree temperature, completely exhausted with a baby who cried all night long, I finally called the breastfeeding warmline at Balboa Hospital. Lily was about 4 weeks old. I don’t know why I hadn’t called it before, but I suspect it was because I thought I had received help already. I had been told by a friend that I was getting mastitis because Lily wasn’t emptying all the milk from my breast and that I needed to pump. So I did, starting at about 5 days postpartum. I ended up with such an oversupply from this, but didn’t know that I shouldn’t have been doing that. I think that this is ultimately what caused my second bout of mastitis. All the while I was scabbed and cried every time Lily latched. My nipple looked like the pointed end of lipstick when she finished nursing. This was unsustainable and I had no idea how women were able to breastfeed their children.

So, back to the call to Balboa. The nurse had me come in right away. She said that she suspected that Lily had a tongue tie and tried to also help me with technique. The technique didn’t help a lot, but I had developed a ton of bad habits trying to deal with the pain....like cursing, hunching over, stiffening my body in pain while she nursed, and the list goes on. She tried to help me relax, but it was to no avail. I was in so much pain. She talked to me about seeing the doctor for a possible clipping and I was immediately against it when it was described to me. We were talking about cutting in Lily’s baby mouth! Really?!?! I just had to be tougher and with that thanked the nurse for her help, and I truly meant it. I just had to go home and practice more. My husband helped me with what we had learned and it was exhausting for both of us. Neither of us could get Lily’s latch correct no matter what we tried. This led to lots of tears and frustration between both of us as we struggled to get it right. I was adamant that I was going to breastfeed, and at some points I felt like it was going to kill me to achieve that goal.

Two days later I was back with the nurse at Balboa, in tears. I was ready to see the doctor to talk about this procedure. I knew that the breastfeeding relationship between Lily and me wasn’t going to last much longer. Lily was about 5 weeks old at this point, so I had been enduring for 5 long, excruciating weeks. We met with Dr. Jim Murphy and he explained the procedure. I was onboard, knowing that at this point I was willing to try anything. The procedure wasn’t entirely pleasant, but I suspect it was because Lily was being held still, which she didn’t like and that she wasn’t being held close to me, which she did like. The clipping was really quick and Dr. Murphy immediately gave her back to me to have her latch. It felt very different! No big pinching feeling. Relief!

 

 

We were told to do stretching exercises after each nursing session. I did them religiously. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns as Lily had developed her own technique to get milk, which involved biting or gumming my nipples. It worked for her, but not for me. We had to learn together how to make this work well for both of us. Because of my abundant oversupply, she was not the typical underweight baby at her checkups. In fact she was right around 100% for both height and weight at each one. No one had suspected that we were having a problem.

A few weeks later the lipstick nipples, pain, pinching, and scabbing were back. We went back to see Dr. Murphy and he said that her tongue had healed in a way that indicated that he had to re-release her tongue. Heart breaking. We had to do the clipping again. We did, it was quick, and Lily latched right on. Nursing became easier after this, although we did have to go through a relearning process again. 

By the time I had to go back to work (when Lily was about 11 weeks old) we were doing great. She was sleeping better at night and I was able to think about trying to go running. Prior to this the thought of running was horrifying because my breasts and nipples hurt so badly. I continued to pump ALL THE TIME to try to relieve the pressure, knowing now that I was just keeping the output at maximum level. I was so relieved to have identified the problem that had caused us so much pain and suffering, so I started trying to learn as much about it as I could.

 

 

I’m a huge breastfeeding advocate and am an active duty Navy mama. I understand the challenges and difficulties presented to mothers with young children, and trying to balance this with a demanding job. I have sought education and am now working toward completing the Certified Lactation Educator certification and hope to help many more mothers have a successful breastfeeding relationship with their children. My own command has responded with support for the new mothers by allowing me to establish breastfeeding rooms and a support group. Lily is now almost 2 and a half, and nurses now more than ever. I know that if it weren’t for that wonderful nurse and Dr. Murphy that we wouldn’t be here today, and I am forever grateful for their assistance and that we were able to get the tongue tie clipping procedure.

Monday
Mar242014

Combining Lactation and Maternal Nutrition

Today, I'm thrilled to introduce a new guest blogger, Lindsey Hurd, MS, RD, LDN, IBCLC.  Lindsey is the owner of Angel Food Lactation & Nutrition, LLC, a business in Wilmington, NC that specializes in perinatal nutrition and lactation services.   Over the next several months, Lindsey will be sharing her brilliant knowledge about breastfeeding and nutrition, including multiple articles about breastfeeding children who have food intolerances.  

Before Lindsey starts writing her monthly articles, we wanted our readers to have the opportunity to get to know her first.  Welcome to our blog, Lindsey!  We are so excited to have you share your passion and expertise!

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Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Lindsey Hurd and I am a registered dietitian (RD) and board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) working in private practice in Wilmington, NC. My business, Angel Food Lactation & Nutrition, LLC, specializes in providing perinatal nutrition and lactation services. Consultations are offered in a home or office setting. Skype consults are available for families who are not local or are in need of flexible scheduling. Locally, I offer grocery store tours to instruct families on how to navigate their food selection and how to prepare foods that taste good and fall within their nutritional goals. Overall, I am here to support moms and babies, uniquely catering my advice and suggestions to fit their needs. Families trust Angel Food Lactation & Nutrition to provide specialized counseling for food sensitivities in baby, gestational diabetes, lactogenic (foods that enhance milk supply) meal planning, and nutrition support from infancy through preschool.

My journey began with an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science. In learning about the powers of exercise, I found a passion for instructing individuals on the role of nutrition, the biggest contributor to one’s overall wellbeing. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I continued to expand my knowledge in health and wellness by completing a Master of Science in Nutrition and a program in dietetics to become a Registered Dietitian. To provide comprehensive care from preconception through preschool, I chose to become an IBCLC, the expert in lactation support. I completed the Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative through the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute at UNC- Chapel Hill and successfully passed the boards, fulfilling my goal for the future. With my career path set, I continued to work in nutrition and lactation for more than 4 years.

 

Why did you decide to focus on perinatal, postpartum, and pediatric nutrition?

I quickly became fascinated with perinatal and pediatric nutrition as I progressed through my studies. The most noteworthy experience was completing my master’s practicum with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in private practice. I fell in love with her job and was amazed at the impact she had on infant nutrition. I immediately realized that I would never find another profession to fulfill my aspiration of providing families with the tools necessary to find their perfect balance of health and happiness. I truly believe this stage of life ‘chose’ me!

From establishing childhood eating habits to the physical demand of sustaining a pregnancy, family planning naturally becomes one of the most important seasons in our lives. Offering education, counseling, and individualized support to those who wish to make the most of this opportunity fills my heart with joy. I am motivated to improve my practice daily to better serve families needs, large or small. Currently, I am very active on Facebook, posting educational resources, up to date research, and a little something fun every now and then. I enjoy connecting with my followers who simply wish to further educate themselves or find a little motivation to continue achieving their goals. Clients teach me how their passion and determination can improve personal habits, overcome speed bumps, and create a ‘new normal’ with the ideal support in place. I am honored to receive an invitation into the lives of each family as a trusted resource in helping them meet their feeding goals. 

 

What role does nutrition play in breastfeeding and making milk?

From flavor learning and brain development to boosting milk supply, each bite directly affects baby from conception to weaning, and some even argue beyond. Enhancing maternal nutrition to balance foods mom needs with foods she loves will directly change the outcome for mom and baby alike. Nutrition plays a huge role in our lives beginning with the first feeding at the breast to the last bite of your favorite meal - mine would be ground honey almond butter on fresh bread from our local bakery! On a physiological level, pregnancy and lactation are two of the largest periods of nutrient demand for a woman’s body. Naturally, it makes great sense to say nutrition plays a strong role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of a mother and her baby. The two are largely connected throughout the perinatal period with mom’s diet providing the foundation for baby to grow in pregnancy. 

Lactation quickly follows this period, requiring enough nourishment to triple the baby’s growth within the first year and establishing his or her immunity throughout the first two years of life! Beyond providing nutrients for baby, mom must also support the needs of her own body. Fortunately, a woman’s body is built to increase the absorption of nutrients, the efficiency of energy metabolism, and to put the baby’s needs first, ensuring optimal development.  What does this mean for the mom’s body you might say? It means that she must increase her awareness of proper nutrition to keep this well-established process functioning at full capacity! This is often easier said than done, especially as a family multiplies. This is where I feel the most effective in my practice, bringing clarity and assurance to women as they progress through the childbearing years. 

 

What type of guidance do you offer to breastfeeding moms whose babies are dealing with food intolerances?

Food sensitivities in our littlest ones can often be a challenging and stressful event for families. The sudden onset, the varying symptoms, and the persistent nature make this speed bump hard to navigate for families in today’s society.  I found a need for diving deeper into food intolerance within the breastfed baby and toddler as I saw more and more families struggle with elimination diets, unnecessarily removing critical foods, and navigating the world of food selection with restrictions. In hopes of enhancing my understanding, I completed a certificate of training in food allergy management and many days of self-study to learn how milk transfers food components from mom’s diet and how maternal and infant immunity play a role in the progression of sensitivities. My goal with each family is to educate moms on how to restore balance, to find replacement meals for foods they love, to honor breastfeeding, and to get baby symptom free. Overall, I am here to support moms and babies - uniquely catering my advice and suggestions to fit their needs.

 

What type of services do you offer?

Angel Food Lactation & Nutrition, LLC offers nutrition and lactation assessments for the whole family. Skype/web based consultations are available for those who are unable to schedule a direct face-to-face visit, or wish to have flexible scheduling.  Have more availability after bedtime? Wish to schedule on a weekend or when both parents are home? Want to schedule, but live in another state? This offering is best for you! Consults are held in the comfort of your own home, using your preference of video chat or voice only.

Classes, small group consultations, and professional seminar presentations are additional ways Angel Food Lactation and Nutrition, LLC, aims to serve those interested in nutrition and lactation for families local to the Wilmington NC area.

 

Want to know more about these topics? The how, what, and when? Stay tuned for more posts to come and visit my webpage www.angelfoodlactationandnutrition.com for individualized counseling to meet your unique goals.


Wednesday
Mar192014

I'm Told my Baby Needs Supplementation...Now What?

Written by Danielle Blair, MS, IBCLC

If you are planning to exclusively breastfeed your baby, the thought of being told to offer supplements (meaning extra milk in addition to direct breastfeeding) for your baby may be downright terrifying.  You may be concerned about nipple confusion, milk supply, or exposing your baby to formula.  Hopefully by learning about common reasons for supplementation and supplementation methods, you can avoid unnecessary supplementation and learn how to offer supplements in ways that are less likely to interfere with breastfeeding.

 

Why might a baby need to be supplemented?

There are many common reasons why a baby might need supplemental feedings.  It is important for you as a parent to advocate for your baby by making an informed decision that the supplement is medically necessary.  Some common medical issues that can arise shortly after birth that may lead to supplements are prematurity, low birth weight, poor feeding, low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), elevated bilirubin levels (jaundice), dehydration, excessive weight loss or poor weight gain.  In all of these cases, the first step is to ensure that baby is breastfeeding effectively.  If not, a supplement might be called for as part of the baby's medical treatment.

 

What is a supplement?

Often we think of supplements as formula in a bottle, but in many cases, a supplement can be expressed breast milk.  Mothers can express their own milk, either by hand or with a breast pump, and offer it to baby by spoon, cup, syringe, supplemental nursing system, or bottle.  Each feeding method has pros and cons, and not all are appropriate for every situation.  If you are instructed to offer your baby a supplement, ask your healthcare provider or IBCLC to help decide which method is best to feed your baby.

 

What if I can't express enough milk for my baby?

In most cases, the only milk a baby needs is what he can take from the breast or what mom can express from her breast.  However, sometimes the medical treatment for baby's condition may include milk volumes that exceed mom's current supply.  This is especially true if supplements are recommended before mom's milk production surges about 3-5 days after delivery.  In this case, you may need to use donor milk or formula.  Your IBCLC can help you with pumping or hand expression techniques.  She might also recommend renting a hospital-grade pump until your milk production increases.

 

Will my baby ever be able to fully breastfeed after supplements?

Generally, the answer to this is YES!  Most reasons for supplementation are short-term problems that are resolved relatively quickly with good treatment.  Premature babies grow and get stronger, and typically get better at breastfeeding around their due dates or shortly after.  A baby who is having difficulty with breastfeeding immediately after birth will often be ready for breastfeeding within a few days after birth.  By expressing milk to feed to your baby, you are helping to establish and maintain the milk supply that your baby will need.

 

When can I stop supplementing?

Part 2 (next week) will discuss how you know it's time to wean from supplements and helpful tips for doing so. 

For more information about supplementation reasons, methods, and choices, check out these The Boob Group podcast episodes: 

Exclusive Breastfeeding and Early Supplementation 

Breastfeeding the Jaundiced Baby  

When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned 

Low Milk Supply: Donor Milk, Milk Banks, and Formula 

 

About Danielle: 

I first became interested in supporting breastfeeding mothers after receiving wonderful support when I was a new mother.  What began as a way to "pay it forward" grew into a passion and a calling.  I have been helping new mothers breastfeed their babies since 2004 and became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2010.  I am the owner of Gaithersburg Breastfeeding, LLC, offering home visits in Montgomery County, Maryland, and also work at a local hospital providing in-patient lactation services.  I have worked with mothers at all stages of breastfeeding, from the delivery room through toddlerhood and beyond.  I truly love supporting mothers as they learn the art of breastfeeding, and particularly enjoy watching moms develop the confidence that they can breastfeed their babies!

In addition to my work in lactation, I hold bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from West Virginia University.  Much of my professional work in engineering involved sharing scientific information in layman's terms, as well as teaching and training; these skills have served me well as I teach parents about their new babies.  I live in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, with my husband and two children.

Wednesday
Mar122014

The Lip Tie/Tongue Tie Challenge 

To help parents understand a bit more about how tongue and lip ties can affect breastfeeding, over the next few weeks we will be featuring stories from moms whose babies experienced these challenges.  We would like to extend a HUGE thank you to the brave mamas who submitted their stories for our blog!  We know you went through a ton of challenges and we are so appreciative that you were willing to share your stories!  If you have a story you would like to share on our blog, please send it to robinkaplan@sdbfc.com.

For more information about tongue and lip ties and how they can affect breastfeeding, please see our article: Does Your Baby Have a Tongue or Lip Tie?

 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Written by Julie Sanders

My issues with breastfeeding my daughter started pretty much as soon as we left the hospital. I started experiencing a lot of pain in my nipples. Not just while she was nursing, but all the time. I was told it was normal for her to nurse 8-10 times a day, but my daughter was nursing 20+ times a day. Essentially, she was constantly nursing, with maybe a 10-20 minute break between sessions. I found that since any side-lying, cradled position was extremely painful, only the football hold position worked for me. I went to a breastfeeding support group her second week, and I learned that my daughter was chomping my nipples while she nursed, and that’s why they were in constant pain. Nipples are supposed to come out of a baby’s mouth just as round as when they went in, but mine were shaped like a football after a nursing session. No wonder! Someone suggested I try nursing her lying down because she was perhaps trying to stem a strong flow of milk into her mouth, but that didn’t help. On top of it all, I also got a clogged duct, which was painful and scary. I was in such excruciating pain I would cry when my daughter wanted to nurse because I just wanted a break for my poor nipples to heal. I didn’t know why it was so hard or what was wrong. The only thing that got me through this period were gel pads. The moist, cold combination was wonderfully soothing.

When my doula came over for our postpartum visit, she checked my daughter’s latch and suggested that we have her evaluated for a tongue tie. She said it didn’t look like her tongue reached far enough forward in her mouth (past the gums). We had never heard of a tongue tie before. She explained it is a very common, simple procedure our pediatrician could perform to snip the underside of her tongue to allow for greater mobility. I rejected the idea at first. The idea that my daughter wasn’t born with her mouth properly equipped to handle breastfeeding seemed ridiculous to me. My daughter was perfect in every way! But later that week when she had a wellness checkup, we asked about the tongue tie. Our pediatrician said it looked like there was indeed a tongue tie, and he would revise it if we wanted him to.  So he clipped the frenulum under her tongue. It was done with scissors while the nurse and my husband held her down. He gave her just a topical gel to numb the area, then had to do about 3-4 snips to cut what he deemed enough. She wailed like I had never heard before and cried real tears. I cried real tears too. It was scarring. I nursed her immediately afterwards to help stop the bleeding and she slowly calmed down. The bleeding stopped very soon and she seemed on the road to recovery. She had a little discomfort for the next day or two. I thought the nightmare was finally over. But it wasn’t. At first I noticed a relief in how she nursed, but it was very short lived. I found out at the breastfeeding support group the next week that there were exercises we were supposed to be doing to help my daughter learn to use the full range of motion of her tongue. The lactation consultant who runs the group emailed me a video with instructions. I did them several times a day, as suggested, but nothing changed.

At around three weeks we finally saw a lactation consultant. I wish I had seen her during week one! Within minutes of telling her our history and examining my daughter, she told us my daughter also had a lip tie, and explained that my daughter nursed constantly because she was only able to get enough milk to satiate her for a short time before she would get hungry again. I hated the idea that my daughter had another tie. My perfect baby was still perfect!  But we followed the advice of the lactation consultant and went to a pediatric dentist in the San Bernadino area who uses a laser instead of scissors, a tool that was supposedly less traumatic on both patient and parent. The thought of driving 80 miles with a baby so young almost deterred us, but we decided to go for it.

The dentist had my husband lie down in the chair and hold my daughter face up on his tummy. Being held by dad was far less traumatic than being pinned to a table by strangers. She also got to wear adorable little sunglasses to protect her eyes from the laser. The dentist checked her out and said she did indeed have a lip tie, and he wanted to do another revision on her tongue to cut more of the frenulum. It literally a minute per tie, if even. He lasered, she cried, and before I could even get upset he was done. I nursed her immediately, just like before, and she calmed very quickly. They gave me exercises to do with her several times a day to help the range of motion for her mouth. Once again I left with the feeling of “It’s over. It’s finally over.” But it wasn’t.

The discomfort again only lasted a day or two, and seemed a little worse for her lip than her tongue. I did the exercises but she just kept chomping. Though with the new mobility of her tongue, her bottom gums were padded a bit, and the pain, while still painful, was much more bearable by comparison. By this point I had gone through so much, I was determined to make this work. My lactation consultant had told us “body work” might be required. After all, my daughter had used her mouth to nurse a certain way her whole life thus far and she was used to it. So we went to a craniosacral therapist. The therapist observed my daughter while she nursed and felt all around her head to examine how her muscles were moving. She massaged around her head and jaw for a bit, and then she told us my daughter’s jaw was very tight, and that’s why she wasn’t latching correctly, but that there wasn’t anything she could do to loosen it.

Next we tried a chiropractor. Chiropractic was another kind of body work my lactation consultant had suggested we may need. She recommended a few people who worked with babies in my area. Over the next two weeks I saw the chiropractor three times. She adjusted areas in my daughter’s upper spine and around her jaw to try and loosen it. Between the three appointments and our periodic massaging of her jaw, gradually at around six to seven weeks old, my daughter’s jaw loosened, she stopped chomping my nipples, and started sucking the way Mother Nature intended. It felt like an eternity, but she is now three months old and our time breastfeeding is easy, a lovely bonding experience and no longer something I dread. It’s easy and wonderful, and it was worth every minute we spent at appointments and every dollar we spent on doctors and specialists and consultants.

I learned a great deal during this trial. A good lactation consultant is invaluable. Ours not only identified our issue right away, but she had all the references to specialists we needed. We were not in a place where we could have researched and found someone to go to on our own. We trusted our lactation consultant, we went where she sent us, and we were never disappointed. Surrounding myself with people who supported my determination to exclusively breastfeed was also pivotal. Being a new mom is an emotional time with many ups and downs even when breastfeeding is going well. My mental state really ran the gambit, and having people to tell me it would get better and that I could do it helped me through my lowest moments. The friend who introduced me to gel pads is an absolute saint! And I learned how strong a person I am.  Compared to this experience, labor was easy. I always referred to what we were going through as “a breastfeeding challenge” because a challenge is something you overcome, and usually leaves you stronger and better off than when you started. 

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