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