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8 Things to Know About Breastfeeding a Tongue-tied Baby

The lactation consultant stared down at my chest and declared, “Yep, she’s gonna have to grow into them.” ‘Them’ being my nipples.  I cringed.


I’d never really contemplated the size of my nipples up until my breastfeeding woes began. They were bigger than most, perhaps the size of a nickel on a lily pad, but not so big they couldn’t fit into my newborn’s mouth. Yet, she wasn’t gaining weight.  

Days before I had made the hard decision of having my daughter’s tongue-tie clipped. Most people think of tongue-tie as a moment when you have a hard time speaking due to love or embarrassment, but tongue-tie or ankyloglossia is a common condition that makes breastfeeding difficult and painful. Basically, there is a piece of skin or frenulum that connects your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. If the frenulum is too tight or short, it’s referred to as tongue-tie.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery states that tongue-tie is often missed and can lead to mothers abandoning breastfeeding completely. The reason is that babies with a tongue-tie cannot stretch their tongues out and over their gums to draw more of the areola into the mouth. This ensures the baby will suck more milk. Instead, they end up rooting on the nipple, causing pain for the mother and not receiving enough milk.

Well, that certainly was the case for me.  

Here are few tips that can help you and your baby get through tongue-tie and quite possibly succeed.

1 | Check for tongue-tie in the hospital

It’s becoming more of a common practice to check for tongue-tie in the first few days of a baby’s life, but my daughter’s tongue-tie wasn’t discovered until I insisted they check before we left the hospital. I had a terrible time breastfeeding with my son and wanted to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Breastfeeding with my daughter seemed to be going fine. She was latching nicely, and there wasn’t any pain. Still, I was shell-shocked from my first experience and mistrusted everyone. I’m glad I did because I would have left believing we were breastfeeding without any problems. Checking for tongue-tie is a simple procedure but needs to be done properly. Request that your pediatrician or lactation consultant checks during the first routine examination.

2 | Clip Earlier Rather than Later

Now, this advice is controversial. For some, clipping a tongue-tie is unnecessary, like having your son circumcised. It makes sense – you don’t want your baby to experience pain unless it’s needed. Also, some small risks are associated with a frenotomy.  Some of the risks include:  pain, bleeding, and possibly infection.

If you and your doctor decide clipping is best for you, then have it done as soon as possible. If left untreated the tongue-tie could cause extreme frustration for the baby and failure for the mom. Another important factor to consider is that the earlier the tongue-tie is discovered and clipped, the easier breastfeeding will be for you and your baby.

Best-selling author and pediatrician Dr. Sears gives some great reasons for clipping it immediately. The doctor clipped my daughter’s at two weeks, which may seem early, but we were already two weeks behind in breastfeeding and struggled to catch up. Remember, clipping the tongue-tie should be a decision you make with your doctor.

3 | Don’t attend the procedure

Most doctors will ask if you want to be in the room during the procedure. Don’t. Seeing your baby in pain and blood coming out of their mouth will be one of your first low points as a mother. It’s understandable to want to attend to comfort them (I naively thought, if my baby is in pain, I need to be too), but this won’t be the case. A nurse holds the baby while the doctor makes the small cut. Once the procedure is finished your baby is brought to you for breastfeeding. This is when you can really comfort your baby. Once Leah was back in my arms and firmly attached to my breast, I felt a shuddering sigh as she snuggled in. I then sighed with her. It was over; at least for now.

4 | Clipping the tongue-tie will not fix the problem immediately

According to the Journal of Human Lactation, “within 24 hours [of a frenotomy] 80% were feeding better.” Even though this is true, it might take some time for the baby to relearn how to suck or root. Babies’ practice the rooting motion in utero with a tongue-tie, so once the tongue-tie is eliminated, they have to relearn how to nurse without the restriction. The mother and baby now learn together. How long this takes is individual.

Relearning how to suck might take a week or it might take a few months. It took my baby 10 weeks to relearn how to breastfeed. I scoured every website and forum I could find to determine an average time, but the answers varied from immediately all the way up to six months. It’s really hard to pinpoint the exact timing because every baby and situation is different. In the interim, the mother might need to supplement with a bottle to ensure healthy weight gain and to pump to keep up her milk supply.

5 | Do the recommended tongue exercises as much as possible 

To help ensure that the frenulum doesn’t reattach, they recommend daily tongue-tie exercises. Fortunately, informative videos can help you with this. My doctor also recommended that I rub the clipped area a few times a day with a clean finger. You have to press down and rub back and forth so that any reattachment doesn’t occur.

Honestly, I was guilty of skipping this because, with everything else I had going on, I would forget. I think deep down I didn’t want to cause her any more pain. When you rub the sensitive area, you have to do it hard, and I found it difficult to do this repeatedly. A lactation consultant showed me once, and she made my baby bleed accidentally. Afterward, she told me that I needed to do it hard; otherwise it was pointless.

6 | Join a breastfeeding support group

Most hospitals have a weekly group that you can join for free. If you live in a larger city, there will be a breastfeeding support group almost any day of the week. One place to start is your local La Leche League. 

For some, joining a group can seem daunting, while for others it’s a natural fit. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, find one and go as early as possible and as often as possible until you’re breastfeeding full-time. At the meetings is a board-certified lactation consultant, who will be able to help you latch properly and answer all of your questions.

At first, I hated the lactation consultant who told me my nipples were too big. The consultant is usually a fit woman in her 50s. Think Jillian Michaels on steroids, but she’s there to help you. Also usually another mother is crying or looking so miserable that you’re suddenly thankful that you only have your problems to deal with.

During the breastfeeding support group, you’ll weigh the baby, then breastfeed the baby, then follow with another weigh-in to track how much they’ve transferred. The scale used for the weigh-ins goes to the grams and ounces, so it’s pretty accurate. Another benefit is that you connect with other moms and realize that you’re not alone. If an in-person group is not your thing, consider joining a Facebook support group for tongue-tie. I found that very helpful.

7 | Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect.

Lactation consultants and doctors are there to help, but they aren’t there with you in the middle of the night when you are trying to comfort a screaming baby who won’t latch and who is turning red from frustration and hunger. They aren’t with you when, after you get through the pain of a bad latch, you have to supplement with a bottle, then pump to keep up your supply, only to do it all over again once the cycle is completed. They aren’t feeling the mixed emotions of wanting what is best for your baby yet wanting to sleep; wanting to enjoy being a mom yet wanting it all to be over with.

The best advice I received and followed is: nurse when you can, supplement when needed, and pump when convenient. Research has shown that the ideal of breastfeeding and what actually occurs are quite different. Women are put under a lot of pressure to breastfeed exclusively; if they don’t, they are made to feel they have failed. They’re told they haven’t just failed themselves but their babies as well, possibly making them less healthy and smart. Don’t give into this overwhelming pressure. Decide what you can do, based on your situation, and know that it is good enough.

8 | Remember Everything is Temporary

In the first few weeks after a baby is born, time seems to stretch and speed up making your sense of reality alter. One week with a newborn seems like a blink yet a year. One week struggling with breastfeeding seems like you’ve aged 20 years and you’ll never sleep again. I found my first gray hair after struggling to breastfeed for a week.

It’s important to remember that everything changes and that the struggle is temporary. Every day you and your baby are changing. Just when you think you can’t make it through one more day breastfeeding, you do and just as suddenly you’ll be successful. As soon as I gave myself permission to do only what I could and acknowledged that this moment would not last forever, my daughter grew into my nipple.

I began to hear what sounded like slurps and gulps. My little angel became like a beer-bong guzzler. Intuitively, I knew she was getting more milk.  It did take 10 weeks, but to get there, I allowed myself to understand that the struggle would end.

Just breathe and remember the frequently quoted mantra, “This too shall pass.”

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).


In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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Mealtime can be one of the most stressful times for parents and kids, especially when there's a picky eater in the house. Your little might get anxious about their food touching, requesting a completely new meal. Or, they might avoid the foods altogether, leaving you concerned about their nutrition. While helping your child develop healthy eating habits is the ultimate goal, you can also incorporate products that will make mealtime more fun for everyone involved.

Here are our favorite products that help picky eaters be, well, less picky (or at least enjoy mealtime enough to not worry about certain foods!).

1. Food cubby

These silicone separates suction to the plate to keep separate foods from touching, or to keep runny foods from spreading. Say goodbye to tantrums from peas and corn touching, mama.

Food Cubby Plate Divider, Amazon, $14.99

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with postpartum anxiety.]

I see you, mama.

I know you don't want to feel this way. I know you're terrified of everything in the world right now. I know you want to wrap your baby in a bubble and keep them safely in your arms forever. I know you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you are too nervous to drift off in case they stop breathing. I know you don't want to let anyone near your little one because they could be carrying an illness. I know you've cried in the bathroom and begged for the voice to stop. And I know you love your child more than anything in the world.

I know because I was you.

I was in the 10% of estimated women who are affected by Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but had no idea what I was experiencing. I worried about EVERY little thing but just brushed the fears aside, thinking this was just normal of first-time motherhood. But it was something more.

I lived in constant fear that my son was either going to get hurt or he was going to die.

It started the first week of being home from the hospital. I was so scared of SIDS that I actually googled "How much sleep do I need in order to survive?" I would only get two to three hours, not because my child was keeping me up, but because I was scared he would stop breathing and I wouldn't be awake to save him.

I would religiously wash all of his clothes with baby detergent and if I thought I mistakenly used regular detergent, I would rewash everything. I was afraid he would get a skin rash if I didn't. If my husband had the slightest hint of a cold, I would banish him to the guest room and handle all of the baby duties on my own until he was fully recovered.

I would wash and rewash bottles because I was afraid they weren't clean enough and convinced myself if I didn't then he would catch a rare illness. When we supplemented with formula, I wasted multiple cans because I was so scared I didn't measure it correctly, so I would dump it and start over.

I didn't want to be this way. I didn't want to let PPA be the thief of my joy, but anxiety doesn't care who you are or what you've been through. I knew my previous miscarriages attributed to my PTSD, which manifested into anxiety.

I knew I needed help.

I cried so many nights as my husband and baby boy slept because I just wanted to feel "normal." I didn't want to overanalyze every bump or rash or cough, I wanted to enjoy being a first time mom, but I felt like I was drowning.

On top of the anxiety was guilt. I had wanted this baby so badly—I wanted to feel joy, happiness, and gratitude, and yet I felt overwhelmed, sad, and miserable. What was happening?

I would tell myself not to worry, I'd try to convince myself a regular cold was just a cold. But then a voice would come into my head and make me second guess myself. What if it was a serious infection and became fatal if I ignored it? So I rushed my baby boy to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong.

I went to the pediatrician over 20 times in my son's first year of life. One time I went because I thought he had a cancerous mole, which turned out to be a piece of lint stuck to his hair. I felt like I was losing control of myself.

Eventually, when my son was 3 months old, I went to a therapist for help. I needed someone to hear me and give me the tools to overcome this. I am not without daily anxiety, I still have many fears and I have to bring myself back to reality, but I work on it every day. I cope and I make an effort to continue with my therapist so I can beat this.

Even though this topic is hard to write about, I have no shame in my story. Carrying a child is hard, giving birth is harder, and jumping onto the roller coaster of motherhood is one hormonal, wild ride.

Mamas, we are allowed to not be okay and we have every right to make that known. I wasn't okay and it took every ounce of strength I had to get myself out of the darkness.

If I could tell you anything about struggling with this, it is this: PPA is real, it is not normal, and getting help is okay. Do not feel ashamed, do not feel embarrassed, and don't for one second think you owe anyone an explanation.

Do not let a single person make you feel like you are less of a mother. You are a magnificent human being, a loving mama bear, and you will get through this.

I see you, and I'm holding space for you.

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Ready to bring a baby on board? Feelings of excitement can often be met with those of financial concern as you prep for this milestone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2015, the cost of raising a child is $233,610—a number that can make anyone's jaw drop to the floor.

But before you start to worry, here are ways you can become more financially savvy before the baby is born:

1. Budget for healthcare costs

The cost of delivering a baby can vary by state, but suffice it to say it can be thousands of dollars. Castlight Health found that the lowest average cost of delivery was $6,075 in Kansas City, MO and the highest average cost $15,420 in Sacramento, CA. Costs are even higher for a Cesarean delivery.

The first thing you want to do is check your insurance and see what they will cover so what you will be responsible for. Then create a separate savings account so that you can cover any costs that you're on the hook for. You can set up automatic savings after each payday up until the baby is born to help assist with any healthcare costs associated with delivery.

2. Cut your expenses

Before the baby arrives, do a spending audit and see where you can slash some expenses. Free up any leftover money to help cover the increased costs that will come, such as food, clothes, and formula.

If you're struggling with how to do that, take a look at all of your expenses and write next to each either"want" or "need." Look at your "want" list and see which expenses are ones you can either eliminate or cut back on. If it doesn't bring you joy or add value, ditch it! You might even find subscriptions that you didn't know you had.

3. Go for second-hand goods

Of course, there are some things you definitely want to buy new for baby, but things like clothes and toys you can get second hand and save a lot of money. Your baby will grow so fast and buying new clothes every few months can add up. If your family members or friends have old baby clothes or toys they're willing to part with, it will save money and you can pay it forward down the line.

4. Look for sales or coupons

Clothes and toys are items that you can buy second hand, but products, like a car seat and crib are best new. You want to be up-to-date with safety and know what you're getting. Before going shopping, search for sales or coupons before you head out. A little research online can go a long way and save you hundreds.

5. Have a garage sale

If you need to make room for baby, it's time to get rid of items that you no longer use or need. Take all of the stuff you are planning to get rid of and have a garage sale to make extra money. You can also try selling online on Craigslist, Poshmark and OfferUp too.

Take the money you earn from selling your stuff and put it in your savings account earmarked for your baby.

6. Get a 529 plan

It's never too early to save for your baby's college. You can open a state-sponsored 529 plan which is a tax-advantaged savings account for education-related costs. Instead of asking for gifts or toys from family and friends, you can request money to go toward a 529 plan. It will be an impactful gift that will help your child in the future and help lessen the financial burden on you.

7. Prep now instead of later

Your whole world will change when your baby arrives, so in order to save money, time and stress, create a plan now. Is there a family or friend close by who can babysit if you need some rest or have to run an errand? Ask them now if they can help out.

Start preparing meals in bulk that can be in the freezer and easily made so you don't have to think about food. Put your bills on autopay so that you don't miss any payments and get hit with late fees. Know how long you can get maternity or paternity leave and understand how that will affect your income and budget. Getting all of this ready ahead of time can help you in the long run.

8. Purchase life insurance

While thinking about why you need life insurance can be a bit stressful, preparation is essential, especially when you're adding another member to your family. Life insurance will provide financial support if you had a loss of income due to something happening to either you or your partner.

9. Understand any tax benefits

The birth of your baby will affect your taxes, which can actually end up putting more money back into your pocket. Do some research online and see how a dependent will change your taxes in your state, such as new exemptions available. Or, find a trusted accountant or tax specialist in your area who can walk you through your options.

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