- Trust your instincts.
- You can’t spoil a baby.
- If what you are doing is working for you, your partner, and your baby, great! Keep doing it!
- If what you are doing is not working for you, your partner, or your baby, it’s ok! You can change it!
- There are no magical times when you must start or stop something.
- No habit you create now is irreversible.
- And never forget, trust your instincts!
When I was looking into becoming an OBC instructor, reading these guiding principles really hooked me in. I loved that these principles are non-judgmental and can work for so many different families. They are all about supporting families while giving them confidence to do what's best for the caregivers and children in that family.
I'm going to be writing blog posts about each of these guiding principles, along with a story of how they have applied in my own parenting journey, starting with #1.
Trust your instincts.
Even in pregnancy, mothers start listening to their instincts. Our instincts can give us a mental nudge if baby moves differently or less. Intuition influences the decisions we make about our pregnancy and birth. My story begins with the day after my son's birth.
My son, DC, is my second child. I did not expect to struggle with breastfeeding, as I had been fortunate with my daughter and it had come naturally. He was born via c-section around 6:00pm, and I was physically and emotionally exhausted in recovery when they finally let me nurse him. It seemed like he struggled a bit latching on, but I was so worn out that I chalked it up to both of us not being up for it at that time. That night and the next day, he began chomping down hard with his gums, hard enough to make me cry out. The hospital had on staff lactation consultants that check on all the new moms, and I asked her about it when she came around. Sticking a gloved finger in his mouth, she said,
"He just has a high palate and does it because he can't feel the nipple on the roof of his mouth. Push down on his jaw like this when he starts to clamp down." She demonstrated what she meant. I thought that sounded strange, but I went with it. And it worked, for awhile.
His second night, he screamed the entire night, unless he was latched on. He didn't stay latched on for long, nothing like the extended newborn nursing sessions I had expected. Exhausted and in pain, I broke with breastfeeding advice and asked for a pacifier. It worked, a little bit, enough to give my sore nipples a break.
Eventually, I trained him not to clamp down. But breastfeeding remained a struggle. He choked and spluttered on my milk, emitting clicking sounds while he nursed. Cluster feeding became a norm, not just during growth spurts, but every single night. He would latch on, nurse for a short time, unlatch, and scream. The pediatrician diagnosed him with colic and prescribed probiotic drops. Every nursing session felt like a struggle: using both hands to support him to keep him latched, relatching over and over and over again. It didn't feel right, but I kept plodding along. He had epic spit ups: I'd have to change his clothes, my clothes, and the sheets.
And then, he started gumming down again. I asked for help in a mommy group, and another mother told me that it sounded like he had lip and tongue tie. I did a little research, and almost cried. My nipples were healing, and I didn't experience a great deal of pain while nursing, but together, we had almost every other symptom. I'd struggled with plugged ducts but chalked it up to an unregulated supply.
I made an appointment with a pediatric dentist that specialized in lip and tongue tie revision, but in the interim, saw our pediatrician. She seemed unconcerned, but I went ahead with the dentist appointment.
Lip and tongue ties are covered in great detail all over the internet, so I won't go into too much detail. But, I was right: he had ties on both his upper and lower lips, and a posterior tongue tie. The dentist advised a revision of the upper lip tie and the tongue tie. She warned that it might take a month or so to have a fully successful breastfeeding relationship after the surgery.
Below, you see two pictures of DC. The one on the left was taken the morning of the surgery, the one on the right was taken that afternoon, several hours after the surgery.
That night, I laid him in his bed while I went to take care of his older sister for a moment. I expected him to cry. After all, he had cried every time I had put him down before, and we were heading into the hours of colic. I came back...and he was fast asleep, serene and content. Beginning that day, I learned that I had a baby who was sweet, snuggly, and in many ways, more easy going than his big sister. He loved his exercise mat and would lie there contentedly giggling and babbling.
The point of this story? I knew something was wrong. I kept asking questions. I didn't allow my feelings to be dismissed. I am so glad that I listened to my intuition: he is an incredible little boy, and that surgery changed our lives.