Let’s talk sucking issues. Let’s especially talk to medical profession and future medical professionals. Palpable ridges along cranial sutures and plugged tear ducts. These were two things that really stood out as weird to me with Brendan, my oldest who is now 8, as a newborn. Brendan couldn’t latch at all when he was born and he had a big bruise from the suction cup from the vacuum extractor. He was also taken away from me immediately. That was extremely traumatic for me-no one heard me when I was shouting “I want my baby! I want to breastfeed!” All of those were signs of major problems and I wish that his tongue-tie, the ridges, the bruising would have been identified as issues. The doctor said he had seen worse ties and *I* must be the problem and I must not have been holding him correctly. Guess what buddy? YOU were wrong. YOU should have been more educated in to breastfeeding issues.
I am currently reading a book called Supporting Sucking Skills. EVERY doctor, midwife, RN, OT, IBCLC, “lactation consultant/nurse” that is around breastfeeding needs to read this book. If you ever have a breastfeeding patient you should read it. Do some self-educating. I get that there isn’t a lot of time in Med school, nursing school, etc to learn about breastfeeding, identify breastfeeding issues, assess mouths and sucking, and diagnose the issues but that’s no excuse to not educate yourself. There are amazing resources out there. Identify your limits. Don’t PRETEND to know what you’re talking about. It can be detrimental to a mother to tell her in any way she isn’t sufficient or to not properly support her in breastfeeding.
Doctors know when to refer to other doctors who are specialists. There are other non-doctor specialists though that everyone needs to be familiar with.
Have you heard of an IBCLC? Most of the general public has not. Many of my friends should have because it’s my passion to be one. An IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. They’re the boob helpers if you will. Like doctors not all are created equal and there are some crummy ones despite having to complete 14 specific health science courses at the University level, 90 hours of breastfeeding specific education, and depending on pathway chosen up to 1000 hours of hands on clinical breastfeeding support. After all that they must pass a rigorous international exam with an international perspective. They must recertify with a lot of continuing education or resit for the exam every 5 years and for sure sit for the always updated exam every 10 years. They must know how to identify breastfeeding problems. They learn about many diseases that effect neonates and are often a front line to identify possibilities so the doctors can look in to them further. They are experts on poop, newborn and infant sleep, and normal term breastfeeding (hint-if you are not supporting a mother “still” breastfeeding a 2+ year old you need to revisit your perspectives). Many know how to assess for tongue and lip ties and while they can’t diagnose they can refer to specialists that know how to take care of them (although many are bound to refer within the system that employs them even if it isn’t the best option for the mother and baby-one of many reasons why I have chosen to be in private practice). Many recognize sucking issues. Take them seriously when you get a referral or a report from an IBCLC.
If you don’t know how to properly assess for a tie be honest-remember to first do no harm. Refer to a specialist that actually knows what they are talking about. www.Drghaheri.com has a lot of information about how doctors should be assessing. He has an excellent bedside manner and knows what the heck he’s talking about because he was a father of a baby with sucking issues and he went out of his way to learn how to help his wife, child, and future patients. He teaches other doctors how to revise ties.
Treat mothers with respect. If a mom has a concern take it seriously. You are not in her home at all hours day and night. If you treat her with dignity and respect and her baby as well you will be well respected. Learn to properly identify sucking issues. They cause a host of problems and are a main reason why mothers give up on breastfeeding. That may not be important to you but it is to her.