Finger feeding

Recently I had a mom have her baby at a Forsyth County hospital. The baby nursed some after the birth and then did very little. The next day they had an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) come in and get the baby latched again. But she mentioned there may be some issues with needing to help her train her tongue for a better latch. I received a call from the parents enlisting my help and they asked if I could come back to help them.

Upon my arrival the mom was emotional and felt like such a failure- her words. She felt she was starving her baby- a word they had planted in her mind. I reminded her that we had gotten the baby to latch and this was fixable. I tried getting the baby to latch and she would suck a few times and then quit. I looked at her tongue and asked them if they had noticed if her tongue ever crossed over the bridge of her lower gum line. They said no.

I discussed that I thought she may have a tight frenulum.  The nurse came in and I asked if they had a supplemental nursing system. She said they did and was delighted I was there to help. I think she really thought I had talked them into formula in the SNS. I had not. In a short while the IBCLC who was on call today came in. She had been in earlier and given them a silicone nipple shield, a hospital grade pump and had mentioned supplementing with formula already.

I introduced myself as a retired after more than 10 years La Leche League leader and a current certified lactation educator. She was inquiring about bringing in the SNS and some formula. She asked if the mom was going to rent a breast pump upon leaving. The mom declined since returning to work meant she was buying her own instead. I then asked if they had a hand pump she could be given. The dad rolled his eyes as he was irritated that the SNS and a hand pump had not ever been offered before I arrived.

The IBCLC was very helpful. She showed the new mom the way the hand pump is used. She then showed the dad how to finger feed the baby the pumped milk. She thought formula would be needed as she was sure the mom only had thick colostrum still and it would get stuck in the tubing. But the mom pumped what was transitional milk and it was perfect to be used in the SNS. The dad finger fed the baby a bit and then the IBCLC did so to check the sucking of the baby. I asked if she thought the baby was tongue tied- and she said perhaps.

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In the meantime, I called my favorite pediatrician who quickly became their choice too- and she gave us the name of a great pediatric ENT and they were scheduled to see both the next morning since they were being discharged in a few hours. I had her fears of her baby starving resolved with her seeing how much milk she had, how the baby could suck from the finger feeding method and how she could get the tongue issue resolved easily.

They stopped by my class space the next day following the snip by the doctor. Her tongue went from being 2-3cm to being 10cm! It was hilarious to watch her trying to figure out what to do with this huge mass in her mouth! But we got her to latch on and nurse from both sides! The mom left elated! She did use the SNS with her pumped milk over the next few days to insure volume since she wanted her baby to have gained well for the next pediatrician visit.

A few days later I texted them to check on them and this was her reply,

E is eating so good, no more SNS!

She sent me a picture of her daughter nursing! It made me so happy! I feel confident this mom was desperate and vulnerable when I arrived that day. She is also tenacious and really wanted to make the breastfeeding relationship work. I am unclear why all of her options were not being given to her initially. But I am also glad that when asked, they were willing to give her what we thought may help her succeed.

The parents were willing to let me share a video clip of the instruction given on finger feeding for others who may not have known this was an option to eliminate nipple confusion that a bottle can give a newborn. Enjoy- there is a a link also to read more about this!

Finger feeding instructions