Monday, January 19, 2015

Why Is My Baby So Difficult?

When my baby was first born, she looked every bit the adorable alien all newborns do. At first, caring for her was relatively simple. She let me know when something was wrong, and she wasn't overly fussy, but I soon realized that she was going to be more difficult than I had first thought. I desperately searched for an answer to my problem, because there were too many strange issues that didn't seem connected but shouldn't have been occurring without a common issue. These were the things I noticed:

  • My baby was very fussy.
  • She wanted to be held constantly.
  • She had difficulty sleeping.
  • She choked while nursing - more than a newborn should. 
  • Although her latch had initially been perfect, it was getting progressively worse.
  • She started to clamp down/bite while nursing.
  • She absolutely hated being in any position that wasn't perfectly upright. 

As I looked for what the core issue could be, a few things came up that seemed like possibilities.

1. Colic. This was the number one guess that came up when I put all the issues together. This didn't make sense to me because:

  • My baby hardly ever spit up.
  • She was not gassy.
  • She didn't scream. 
  • She cried all day - not only at one time every day.
2. A needy baby. This didn't make sense to me because: 
  • Although my baby wanted to be held, she didn't find comfort in being held; it merely meant she cried instead of screaming. 
  • She didn't nurse as frequently as needy babies are described to do. 
  • She wasn't easily stimulated. Even though she cried almost constantly, the amount of noise, light, and/or people, made no difference. In fact, these would more often calm her than anything.
  • She was able to self-soothe. Although it didn't happen often, when she did wake up in the middle of the night, I could always put her right back down after nursing if she was still awake. 
3. Infant reflux. This didn't make sense because: 
  • Again, she would rarely spit up. 
  • She was gaining weight rapidly and consistently. 
In desperation, I contacted my on-call lactation consultant. She asked me to bring my baby in to check for a posterior tongue tie. I wasn't that convinced for these reasons:
  • My baby could stick out her tongue.
  • She had initially had a perfect latch. 
  • She had been checked for tongue tie three times, and each time had been positively said to not have one.
  • There weren't problems with spit-up or reflux.
This time, I was wrong. My LC explained that sometimes a posterior tongue tie will not be noticeable until a month after birth. At first, it may be loose and not cause any problems but tighten up later. She told me that the tongue tie explained all the symptoms I had been noticing. I was shocked it had never come up as a possibility. I could have gotten my baby help so much sooner!

If you see that your baby has similar issues, I would encourage you to see a lactation consultant or doctor who is experienced with both anterior and posterior tongue tie to check, even if your baby was cleared at birth. Don't try to diagnose by yourself. This website is very helpful in giving information about tongue tie - how the issue is treated, why it seems to be more common these days, and other details that may be helpful. 

One thing that it doesn't talk about is the newest research on why it is important to have the tongue tie revised. Some doctors will say it doesn't need to be addressed either because it may go away on its own or because they don't believe it presents a real problem. You can even find articles that say it's a pointless procedure. As a breastfeeding mother who had it done, I can say this is absolutely untrue. Not only are they finding that there are health benefits later on, a tongue tie can make feeding more difficult for you baby - even if you're bottle feeding. 

For more information, check out the Tongue Tie Babies Support Group website. There is a plethora of information and lists of links to helpful sites, as well as contact information for well-reviewed doctors who perform tongue-tie revisions. The LLL information page is also a good reference. 

Happy nursing!

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