When the Pain Persists, Oral Tethers and Post-Partum Depression

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January 16,2017

Everyone kept saying, “It’s not supposed to hurt.”

For Grace breastfeeding was painful from the very first time her son tried to latch in the delivery room.

“After multiple trips to the breastfeeding support group I was in tears. I was heartbroken. The pain was so intense it made my whole body tense just at the thought. I literally bled at one point.”

Thankfully the birth facility consultants suggested to Grace that a tongue or lip tie might be  the cause of the issues.

“They couldn’t diagnose, but they could recognize the symptoms.. the pain, the flattened nipples,  gassiness and fussiness, low milk supply, a high arched palate… and more.”

Grace found about an online Facebook group for tongue-tie support and learned all she could about the issue. She endured sore, cracked and bleeding nipples because she was committed to breastfeeding her baby.  However, the physical pain was only part of it.

“I dreaded my baby waking up, and that hurt more than anything. I couldn’t even enjoy my son that we had tried so hard to conceive. ”

Grace took her son into see a local pediatric dentist who specializes in revising oral tethers, and her son was diagnosed with oral, lip, and buccal tethers.  She had the tethers revise that day.

“I was so relieved to have the procedure done, and I was hopeful. ”

“But the pain didn’t go away. “

Grace heard about the importance of bodywork after the procedure so she brought her son into our clinic.  During her time here she went through ups and downs.  Her supply dwindled and her baby was not gaining weight. Sometimes after treatment the baby would latch perfectly, only to return to a painful latch the next day.  She supplemented with formula as she waited on a prescription for Domperidone, a hard to get medicine that boosts milk supply, but is currently only available in Canada.

“I hated to admit I couldn’t feed my son completely “naturally,” and I had a lot of fears about what I could expose him to in the formula. However, I knew we were risking a lot more if we didn’t supplement.”

Many moms feel similar fear and guilt when they circumstances cause them to supplement with formula.  When this happens mom’s can be at increase risk of depression.

Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after having a baby. Feelings of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer than those of “baby blues,” a term used to describe the worry, sadness, and tiredness many women experience after having a baby. “Baby blues” symptoms typically resolve on their own within a few days. About 1 in 8 women experiences postpartum depression.

For Grace, it was helpful to have a consistent provider that knew about all the services that mom and baby were receiving.  The case management helped put Grace into touch with other resources and providers that she didn’t know were available.

Luckily, Grace was able to find a local  post-partum support group.  Once she started to manage her depression, things started to get better. The pain from breastfeeding even started to diminish, and Grace started to enjoy her time with her son.

Sometimes even when mom’s do all the right things, things can be very hard.  That’s why it is so important that mom’s going through the torment of painful breastfeeding have a good team of healthcare providers, and are able to find the right resources.

Post-partum Depression is one of the biggest risks to the health of mom and baby.  It is important for moms going through the challenges of painful feeding, that they have access to post-partum resources.

Here are some of the signs from post-partumprogress.com

  • You feel overwhelmed. Not like “hey, this new mom thing is hard.” More like “I can’t do this and I’m never going to be able to do this.” You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place.
  • You feel guilty because you believe you should be handling new motherhood better than this. You feel like your baby deserves better. You worry whether your baby can tell that you feel so bad, or that you are crying so much, or that you don’t feel the happiness or connection that you thought you would. You may wonder whether your baby would be better off without you.
  • You don’t feel bonded to your baby. You’re not having that mythical mommy bliss that you see on TV or read about in magazines. Not everyone with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do.
  • You can’t understand why this is happening. You are very confused and scared.
  • You feel irritated or angry. You have no patience. Everything annoys you. You feel resentment toward your baby, or your partner, or your friends who don’t have babies. You feel out-of-control rage.
  • You feel nothing. Emptiness and numbness. You are just going through the motions.
  • You feel sadness to the depths of your soul. You can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.
  • You feel hopeless, like this situation will never ever get better. You feel weak and defective, like a failure.
  • You can’t bring yourself to eat, or perhaps the only thing that makes you feel better is eating.
  • You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, nor can you sleep at any other time. Or maybe you can fall asleep, but you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep no matter how tired you are. Or maybe all you can do is sleep and you can’t seem to stay awake to get the most basic things done. Whichever it is, your sleeping is completely screwed up and it’s not just because you have a newborn.
  • You can’t concentrate. You can’t focus. You can’t think of the words you want to say. You can’t remember what you were supposed to do. You can’t make a decision. You feel like you’re in a fog.
  • You feel disconnected. You feel strangely apart from everyone for some reason, like there’s an invisible wall between you and the rest of the world.
  • Maybe you’re doing everything right. You are exercising. You are taking your vitamins. You have a healthy spirituality. You do yoga. You’re thinking “Why can’t I just get over this?” You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can’t.
  • You might be having thoughts of running away and leaving your family behind. Or you’ve thought of driving off the road, or taking too many pills, or finding some other way to end this misery.
  • You know something is wrong. You may not know you have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, but you know the way you are feeling is NOT right. You think you’ve “gone crazy.”
  • You are afraid that this is your new reality and that you’ve lost the “old you” forever.
  • You are afraid that if you reach out for help people will judge you. Or that your baby will be taken away.

Click Here for a list of local resources for the Greater Kansas City Area as well as national resources.


About Josh Lockrow

Josh Lockrow is the founder and chiropractor at Lifeway Chiropractic. He has a degree in Religion from Pepperdine University and a doctorate of chiropractic from Cleveland Chiropractic College. When he smuggles some free time he is working on a 3d printed robot. You can learn more about it, or even contribute some code, at his github page.

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