Colicky Babes, Part Deux

Don’t you just love it when birthing or breastfeeding or babies makes it to the front page of the New York Times? I do! Go check out today’s front page (well, the online front page, at least). There’s a very fun article there by Nina Bernstein about the diversity of colic remedies for new babies—as diverse as the population of this city. (You have to register to read the article, but it’s free). Go go go!

And speaking of postpartum, guess where I ended up working again last night? Still haven’t seen a birth for weeks (boo, hiss), but I did get to do some great breastfeeding education with four women in particular. There is so much to teach when it comes to breastfeeding, though, that sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating, because you never feel like you have enough time to cram it all in—adequate hydration, and how to know that the baby is getting enough, and how to latch and unlatch, and reassure the mother that the baby is breathing just fine, and how to care for sore nipples, and how often to feed, and for how long, and when to switch breasts, and how to position the baby. You would want to spend at least an hour just talking about breastfeeding alone, but you have eight patients at a time, and inevitably three of them need pain medication and a third is asking for another ice pack and the fifth wants to get out of bed for the first time since her cesarean, and the sixth needs another IV bag hung, and breastfeeding always seems to get short shrift. However, I do try to spend as much time as possible on it, even at the expense of my break, or my charting, because I really believe that if a woman and her baby can have positive breastfeeding experiences while they’re in the hospital, they’ll be able to go home with so much more confidence, and not abandon breastfeeding for “something easier”. And it’s true, breastfeeding does require a lot more work than bottle feeding, especially in the beginning when both the mom and baby are still learning how, but the benefits are so obvious (granted, I am quite biased, but even so…do formula-fed babies ever look even 1/4th as blissed-out and contented as the breast-fed babies?? I think not!). By the end of the night, three of the babies were latching beautifully, with exactly that look on their faces. And I must be doing something right, becuase one of the couples even asked if I was willing to moonlight on the side and give them some lactation support at home in the coming weeks, which is an offer that is actually tempting (although the next question is…how much do you charge for something like that?).

However, the fourth woman I worked with had an adoreable little guy who kept insisting on sucking on his lips and tongue, no matter what we did. In fact, his tongue actually curled up towards the roof of his mouth, so that when you opened his mouth, you couldn’t see the roof of it because his tongue was always in the way. We tried so hard to get him to open his mouth by stroking his nose and lips in a downward motion, and then trying to get the breast in his mouth, but he never opened his mouth wide enough for that because he was always busy sucking on himself instead. The few times we were able to get his mouth open, his tongue was always in the way. At best, we were able to get his outer lips around the areola, but that was it. I feel certain that if we could have just gotten him a little taste of the breast, he would have been hooked. He was obviously hungry, but was self-conforting by sucking on his lips and tongue. I spent over an hour with her trying to get him to latch. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to get a baby like that to actually open his mouth? I think I’ll post this on a breastfeeding message board as well and see if anyone else has any tips either. I’m usually pretty good at helping women get their babies to latch, but he really stumped me. Gotta learn more. First, though, gotta sleep. Good night!

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3 Comments

  1. heatherw
    Posted November 29, 2005 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Check the frenula – there is one under the tongue, one on the upper lip, and one on the lower lip.

    As her mouth was growing, my daughter developed a shortened upper lip frenulum just before her 2nd birthday. She started being unable to suck from her sippy cup, and EXACTLY what you described was happening to her. Her upper lip would fall into her mouth when she was trying to get milk out of the cup, and she would bite her lip. With her, we had her use a regular cup at home, and sent to day care sippy cups where the top could be removed. She outgrew it in a couple of months.

    But apparently, if you cut the frenula on a newborn, it heals really quickly.

  2. The Student
    Posted November 29, 2005 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, interesting. It didn’t even occur to me to look there. I’ll certainly keep that in mind next time. I wonder how often the frenula actually need to be cut on a newborn or baby…

  3. coblyfemme
    Posted June 5, 2006 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    http://www.drjain.com/examples.htm

    This is a great site for info on “tongue-tie” or frenulum problems.

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