Yesterday, I started typing up this blog post and by the time I stopped to take a breath, it was almost book length. It is far too much information for one blog post. I really think our full story deserves to be told in book form. How that is going to happen, I am not sure, but a girl can dream.
I want to finally wrap up our saga, in honor of World Breastfeeding Week. I want to tell you about exactly what the physical issues we had, that created the perfect storm of our EXTREME breastfeeding problems.
These were our problems, in a nutshell:
- I have flat nipples. Not totally inverted, but flat.
- Penelope was severely tongue tied.
- She had TMJ on the right side of her jaw, from her Atlas vertebrae being out. The misalignment of her Atlas vertebrae caused all the muscles in her neck and jaw to tighten and spasm. It was painful for her to lay on her side and it was painful for her open her mouth. I am still not sure how her Atlas vertebrae got out of alignment. It’s either from when I fell on the stairs, 2 weeks before my due date, and landed on my sacrum, or from her being head down and engaged in my pelvis for a long time, she was head down and ready to go, months before she came out. And she was kind of coming in at a quirky angle. Sometimes, Atlas vertebra’s can be pulled out of alignment from trauma in the birth canal (ie. being yanked out with forceps or vacuum suction), but we had a peaceful, water birth, so I am convinced it happened at some point in the womb.
Here’s what I did to fix the problems:
- flat nipples: If flat nipples were our only problem, the pinching to latch technique, pumping to draw out nipples, nipple extractor and nipple shield would have worked, I am sure.
- tongue tie: She had one frenotomy at 6 days old, and another deeper cut at 8 weeks. I never got a 100% clear answer from our pediatrician or the ENT we saw, but after reading mountains of information on posterior tongue tie, I am convinced that is what Penelope had.
- TMJ/Atlas: This one was the tough one, it took me almost 3 weeks to even figure out that she had TMJ, then another week to get to the right chiropractor that knew what he was doing. First, we went to an Acupuncture Dr, a Chiropractor, then an energy healer. The energy healer told us to go to a cranial sacral therapist, he told us to go to another cranial sacral therapist who also does physical therapy and energy healing. When we went to her, she also did work on expanding her palate. Penelope had a narrow and small palate and she wasn’t getting the sensory she needed from the top of her mouth to suck properly. That therapist, told us to go to a certain Chiropractor that specializes in Atlas vertebrate issues. When we got to that Chiropractor, he took x-rays and sure enough it was out. He adjusted her one time and fixed it for her. We go back every six months to check it and it’s always fine. He also taught me massage techniques to relax the muscles of the jaw and work on fixing her TMJ. Since I am an LMT, I did this myself, but if I wasn’t, I would have taken her to an LMT for this as well.
- To help her get back to the breast: After we did everything, got her tongue tie and TMJ fixed, then we went to an Acupuncture Dr. who also does cranial sacral therapy, once a week for several months. We worked on strengthening and coordinating her suck, relaxing her jaw muscles, creating a positive association with my breast and even my milk. We also went to a speech language therapist that specialized in infant sucking disorders. She also taught me techniques, to strengthen her muscles and tone, to help her nurse, but to also make sure she didn’t have any speech delays from not nursing (nursing develops proper jaw and tongue muscles for later speech development) and from her tongue tie.
Throughout all this, we went to several IBCLC’s as well. I never tallied up the cost of all these appointments, I am too afraid to know. I don’t care what anyone says, breastfeeding is not free!
The biggest lesson I would like others to take from this, is that if your baby is not nursing, even with help from an IBCLC, and going to a cranial sacral therapist (usually if nothing is physically wrong but baby and mama had a rough birth or had to deal with some booby traps from the get go, cranial sacral therapy can get things back on track), something is wrong. Go to a chiropractor right away. I did take her to one within the first two weeks, but he was a total quack. You must find one that specializes in children and cervical vertebrae issues.
Ok, so I hope that helps. While I wait for a for magical book agent to appear in my life, please email me with any questions you have, or comment below. If you are having trouble with breastfeeding, I will stop everything I am doing to help you.
This is a picture of Penelope at 5 months old, the day she started nursing.
I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.
(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)