A mother’s in­tu­ition

A new mother knew there was some­thing not just ‘nor­mal’ about her unset­tled new­born

Style Magazine - - Feature -

Tak­ing a new baby home can be the most ex­cit­ing time in your life, but it can also be a time of huge anx­i­ety for a new mother.

Es­pe­cially if your child is unset­tled and you have tried ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing.

On top of ba­sic hu­man needs that are fore­gone (such as sleep!) there is the added stress that you are re­spon­si­ble for your child’s dis­tress, or that you are fail­ing as a mother.

When Cara Chard took her lit­tle son Theodore home from the Dalby hospi­tal ear­lier this year she was pre­pared for the lack of sleep that comes with a new­born, but she was not pre­pared for the dis­tress that was headed in her di­rec­tion.

Two weeks in, lit­tle Theo was suf­fer­ing from hor­ri­ble wind and belly pains; con­stantly, day and night, his knees would pull up and he was in a con­stant state of ten­sion.

Cara was be­side her­self with dis­tress for her son and to­tal ex­haus­tion for her­self. “It was tor­ture to watch,” she says. “None of us got any sleep; a good night would be four hours bro­ken sleep, and that was with help from my hus­band and mum. “Some nights I would get an hour or an hour and a half. “We tried count­less things, mid­wives and nurses said they had no other ideas for me, he’d have to grow out of it.”

Things were at break­ing point when Cara posted on a Face­book breast­feed­ing group and was in­un­dated with re­sponses.

Most of them re­ferred to lip-tie and tongue-tie in ba­bies that had not been picked up by doc­tors, nurses or mid­wives.

Tongue-tie oc­curs when the thin piece of skin un­der the baby’s tongue (the lin­gual frenu­lum) re­stricts the move­ment of the tongue, and while it doesn’t al­ways mean a baby can’t breast­feed, in some cases the tongue is not mo­bile enough for the baby to at­tach prop­erly to the breast. A lip-tie is the same only with the lip re­stricted by a shorter than nor­mal frenu­lum from above.

Both can af­fect how much of the nip­ple the baby can fit into its mouth, as well as the level of at­tach­ment that can be achieved.

Af­ter some re­search, Cara checked in­side Theo’s mouth and then en­gaged a lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant who con­firmed what she sus­pected: a lip-tie and pos­te­rior tongue-tie. It meant Theo was swal­low­ing a lot of air while feed­ing. As with many things baby-re­lated, the is­sue is con­tro­ver­sial. A sim­ple pro­ce­dure is avail­able to snip or laser cut the ob­struc­tive piece of skin, thereby im­prov­ing tongue or lip move­ment.

While aware­ness of the con­di­tion is grow­ing, there are still the

We tried count­less things, mid­wives and nurses said they have no other ideas for me, he’d have to grow out of it. I think de­cid­ing to have this pro­ce­dure is a per­sonal choice.

for and against par­ties — one lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant re­ports be­ing told the pro­ce­dure is akin to ‘dock­ing the tail of a dog’.

For Cara how­ever the re­sults were in­stan­ta­neous, with Theo’s wind prob­lem now 90 per cent im­proved.

She opted to have Theo’s lip and tongue-ties treated with the laser pro­ce­dure in Bris­bane.

“Straight away, as soon as the pro­ce­dure is fin­ished you feed him, and right away he at­tached better and didn’t swal­low air.”

“He is fuss­ing a lit­tle be­cause his mouth mus­cles are sore but he is now ‘sleep­ing through’ for five hours at a time.

“And he will do that twice, so that is ten hours of sleep… for both of us.”

It’s a far cry from the unset­tled, ex­hausted lit­tle boy Cara was sit­ting up all night and day with just weeks ear­lier.

“I was anx­ious and con­stantly wor­ried about him and felt like I had run out of op­tions of things to try... I was feel­ing like I was fail­ing — ev­ery­thing I was try­ing was fail­ing,” she says.

Af­ter post­ing on­line about her ex­pe­ri­ence she found many friends and ac­quain­tances could re­late.

“A lot of peo­ple com­mented they had had sim­i­lar — one girl said she wished she’d seen that post ear­lier,” Cara says.

“I am now see­ing his per­son­al­ity a bit more, he makes more noises, and is more play­ful and ac­tive and not frown­ing as much — he is just so much more set­tled and is flash­ing me lit­tle smiles.”

“I think de­cid­ing to have this pro­ce­dure is a per­sonal choice, but it’s worth look­ing into and get­ting it pro­fes­sion­ally as­sessed.”

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