Jennifer Hodgerson, 34, had never heard of tongue/lip ties in newborns prior to the arrival of her first child, Karl, five years ago.
Hodgerson, a physical therapist and coordinator of Rehab Education at Passavant Area Hospital (PAH), delivered Karl after a long labor via unplanned C-section. The new mom was determined to breastfeed.
Unfortunately, she experienced mastitis, thrush, bleeding and open wounds. “Breastfeeding didn’t go well,” she said. “It was horribly painful for him to nurse.”
After consulting with her OB/GYN and lactation experts at PAH, she eventually spoke with a physician and pediatrician who was an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in the St. Louis area. She confirmed a tongue/lip tie with Karl and recommended a laser procedure for the baby, which she was able to perform that day.
“So much improvement,” Jennifer recalled. “It was night and day. I came back to Passavant and told everyone – my OB, our pediatrician, lactation team, Family Maternity Suites. I talked to everyone!”
The team was receptive. Passavant Area Hospital is one of the first hospitals in the nation to join the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative for pursuing ongoing support in breastfeeding practices, training, resource support for lactation education and a focus on evidence-based practices for prenatal and maternity care.
The Center also now employs two International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) including OB department manager Simone Parlier, BSN, RNC-OB, IBCLC, and Linda Kennedy, BSN, RN, IBCLC, lactation services facilitator.
After encountering her own hurdles with breast feeding, Linda Kennedy became a lactation counselor and took a master class in St. Louis about the mother-infant dyad that stressed the importance of looking at the whole picture including oral restrictions and ties.
“This class provided me with the knowledge to assess for and help dysfunctional feeding issues,” Linda said. “Mothers’ emotions are fragile during the postpartum period so I wanted to help them understand the whys of dysfunctional feeding and refer them to preferred providers for additional help. I feel privileged to be an advocate for all involved during their breastfeeding journey.”
When Jennifer Hodgerson’s son Eli was born, also via C-section, it was a completely different experience. In the four years between Karl and Eli, the team at PAH Family Maternity Suites had updated their procedures to further emphasize infant/mom bonding.
“With Eli, they put the baby on my chest right away,” Jennifer said. “They didn’t weigh him or clean him. They put him straight on my chest, and he wasn’t crying. He was just happy, where he wanted to be.”
The team gave Jennifer and Eli time together before they weighed the newborn. They also implemented the “Wait to Bathe” protocol, and they assessed potential obstacles to successful breastfeeding.
“Linda came in the day we were going home with Eli,” Jennifer said. “I was having a little bit of soreness and saw the same signs. Linda recommended we go get it checked out.”
Eli also had his tongue and lip lasered in St. Louis, which led to a timely and smooth transition to breastfeeding.
Jennifer can’t say enough about her family’s experience at PAH Family Maternity Suites. She appreciates how they took the initiative to become highly educated about tongue/lip tie and also raves about the care she received with both deliveries.
“It’s a big hospital with a little hospital feel,” she said. “You’re going to get up-to-date treatment and current technology as far as medical care. But you will also have that small, personal, local hospital feel. The nurses know you. That’s what I like about it. I feel at home here. It’s that personalized care.”