There are a lot of things we’re told about when it comes to newborns, but on the other hand there’s a lot left out. I can’t tell you how many times I was told that a baby waking at night was normal, not knowing why they are crying is normal, and that nursing is supposed to come ‘naturally’. (HINT: It doesn’t and every baby will nurse different.)
I was told this stuff over and over again but was never told what to look out for. The things that could help me understand my baby, know what a good latch looked like, what to do to help ensure a good nursing journey, or what medical issues to be aware of.
With my first she nursed like a champ, my milk came in like a flood, she slept great, and never had one medical issue. My experience was equal to that of finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, rare and a 1 in a million chance. When my second came along it felt like I was dropped in the middle of the ocean with no life raft and expected to somehow make it to shore.
From day one she nursed drastically different, when she was three weeks old we found a tumor on her neck, at 6 weeks old colic started and drove me to a new level of crazy, at 3 months old she was diagnosed with a sever tongue and lip tie (why nursing was so much harder), and at 4 months old she got a thrush infection that killed my milk supply and lasted 3 months and 2 full prescriptions.
So, as you can see these two newborns were drastically different and taught me so much about what it takes to take care of a newborn. With my second I learned what to look for and be aware of so that hopefully I could be ahead of the game with the next.
Since I have no desire to repeat what I went through with my second I have come up with a list of stuff that you should have checked, be aware of, or do so that you don’t get hit with a ball out of left field. Here they are.
Tongue and Lip Tie | With my first kid I was told that tongue and lip ties were over diagnosed, and not really that big of an issue. So, I took that advice from a medical professional and started my journey through motherhood without one more thought about it. Thankfully my first born took after me and she ended up not having a tongue tie. (I think she has a small lip tie, but it hasn’t been a problem in any way.)
Unfortunately, my second born took after my husband and had a horrible tongue and lip tie. At her 3-month checkup my husband, out of the blew, asked the doctor to look at her tongue because he wanted to check and see if she had one. You see, he had a bad one since birth and it bothered him from time to time, so he wanted to get hers revised if she had it just to help her in the future. Our doctor referred us to a lactation specialist because he didn’t know a lot about tongue ties. One lactation visit later we got the answer that shocked us.
If you don’t know let me enlighten you. An unrevised tongue tie can causes a WORLD of problems; including latch issues, weight gain problems, acid reflux, tension, speech problems, narrow pallet, and teeth problems. As the lactation specialist informed me of all this I sat on the couch in shock. The first words out of my mouth were, “You just described my husband to a T.”
After she calculated her current weight and compared it to her birth weight we were informed that she was about 5 pounds under weight. 5 POUNDS! The moment she said this to me I just started bawling. My baby was starving, and I didn’t know it. I was heartbroken.
After her revision a few days later, we saw some great improvement. She had other health issues we were fighting so nursing was still a challenge, but the revision made it much easier.
With my 3rd we had them check her at the hospital within the first 24 hours of life. She was diagnosed with a tongue and lip tie and we got it revised before she turned 1 week old. This made a world of difference. I felt like I was nursing a whole new child the second we got her revision done. The closer to birth you can get them revised the better results you’re going to have.
Hand Expression Before Baby is Born | My first two breastfeeding journeys were night and day different. My first was exclusively breastfed until 22months old. My second was exclusively breast fed till 3 months old, then we started supplementing with formula, and by 6 months old she only got formula.
Formula was great to have for my second and literally saved her life, but we also dealt with constipation, extreme diaper rashes, and a drastic increase in cost. My goal for my 3rd kid was to try and ensure a better breastfeeding journey. This meant on top of getting the tongue and lip tie revised I wanted to make sure my milk supply was adequate.
Early on in my pregnancy my friend sent me a study done about how hand expressing colostrum after term (37 Weeks) can help establish breastfeeding quickly and efficiently after birth.
At about 37-38 weeks I started hand expressing about every other day. I would have done it daily, but I kept forgetting. After my 3rd was born I have had the best milk supply out of all 3 of my kids.
If you want to check out the study, you can do so here.
Pump | When your milk comes in, it comes in like a flood, or at least mine does. While we were going through the tongue and lip tie revision I was advised to pump multiple times a day. This would mean that my milk supply would stay as high as possible so that baby could get through her healing process and if anything happened my milk supply was still in tact.
Within the first week of her life I had 40 ounces of breastmilk in the freezer and it didn’t stop there. After she got through her 6 weeks of healing I continued to pump a couple times a day. Since she was nursing off me and never needing a bottle my milk stash was getting out of control. This was such a huge blessing. I was not only able to feed my baby, but I also donated to 6 other babies in the course of 6 months. This was an amazing experience.
I highly suggest pumping, especially if your baby is getting a tongue and lip tie revision. Not only will you ensure that your milk supply stays high but you can stash milk so that date night becomes a real possibility for you and your hubby.
Torticollis/Fibromatosis Colli | One of the worst moments I’ve had in motherhood was when I found a very large lump on my 2nd born’s neck at only 3 weeks old. After 1 doctor visit, trip to the hospital, blood work, x-rays, and 1 ultrasound. We found out she had a tumor. Not the sentence you want to hear about your 3-week-old baby.
The technical term for what she had was called Fibromatosis Colli. You can read more about what it is here.
In a nutshell it’s basically a benign tumor that can form on the side of the neck. The cause can be from a traumatic birth or the way the baby was positioned in the womb. We’re assuming it was how she sat in the womb since she was head down and to the side from about 19 weeks on.
The doctors think that the long time she spent in this position strained that muscle which caused the tumor to grow. Luckily with about 8 months of PT her body reabsorbed the tumor and she never needed surgery, but it made nursing very hard for her on one side. Now that I have been through the PT stretches and exercises I’m more equipped to help my next baby if she has this or Torticollis.
Deeply Rooted Mom Community!
Get our newsletter, freebies, updates, and more sent straight to your inbox so you never miss a thing.
Torticollis is more common in infants and its just tight neck muscles on one or both sides of the neck. This can be a common problem with nursing since it hinders the baby’s ability to turn their head and get a good latch. With the exercises you can help loosen those muscles and give them more range of motion in their neck.
My 3rd ended up not having any of this! Praise Jesus!
Colic & Weight | There’s nothing quite worse than a baby who won’t stop crying and you have no earthly idea what’s going on or how to help them. With my second baby we realized that the reason she was colic was because she was starving but we had no idea she had a tongue or lip tie until she was 3 months old.
If I would have been monitoring how much breastmilk she was getting I would have noticed it wasn’t enough early on and it would have saved us many nights of endless crying. The third time around I bought a baby scale and did weight checks every couple days to make sure she was getting enough milk. Thankfully we didn’t have a problem and stopped checking her weight around 4 months old.
I understand that not all Colic babies have nursing issues. Some have digestion issues or allergies that make them very uncomfortable. This is just my personal experience with my children.
Newborns can be tricky to understand but we can still be prepared for many things that they bring our way. I hope these preparations and information will help you in your journey with your newborns and allow you to avoid some of the pitfalls I went through with my second. Just remember to try and enjoy motherhood. Just like anything else this season will pass and remember you’re not alone.