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Episode 109: Untangling Tongue Ties: A Lactation Consultant's Guide to Treating Breastfed Babies with Melanie Henstrom

, May 31, 2023

Ep 109

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Jacqueline Kincer  0:03  

Welcome back to the Breastfeeding Talk Podcast. I’m your host Jacqueline Kincer. And this week we are joined by a longtime friend and colleague, Melanie Henstrom. Melanie is such a special person and it’s funny because Melanie is actually how Cait Hearn joined our team over here at Holistic Lactation because Cait has mentored under and worked with Melanie and Melanie one day saw that I was hiring for an IBCLC position and referred her to apply. So Cait works with Melanie still filled in for her sometimes at her clinic and of course is part of our awesome team here and our community manager at the nurture collective. So it’s been really neat to connect with colleagues like that. She’s actually in Idaho. So connecting with people over technology is really great. And I just felt like she was such an awesome guest to bring on the podcast. 


So I want to tell you a little bit about Melanie before reach out to her as a little girl she actually watched her OBGYN dead deliver babies. And it was such an incredible experience for her to be part of that she knew she wanted to help babies when she grew up. So she decided she was going to follow in her dad’s footsteps in medicine. She finished all of her pre-nursing requirements, earned her Bachelors of Science in Family Science. And then she started working in the adoption fields, which was obviously incredibly rewarding, but also heartbreaking. And she married her best friend who still to this day is her favorite person to have a salmon dinner with and as soon as she gave birth, she knew she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. So she breastfed her first and then five more children followed, including tandem nursing her twins, which was challenging to say the least. But also the most rewarding experience of her life that she feels like she’d never take back. So once her kids were in school, she became a certified postpartum doula and focused on guiding families with twins or multiples. So given her personal experience, she felt called to help this special group of moms. She even worked with her own daughter as her doula. I know Melanie has been very involved in the lives of her children, which is so amazing, and the honor of serving and the birth of one of her grandchildren. That is probably one of those peak experiences. 


So I love that she’s been able to do that. So she became an IBCLC in 2017 and opened her practice baby bonds shortly after, but her training hasn’t stopped there. So I’ll let her tell you a bit more about that in our episode. But she has such a passion and drive to educate herself on anything that’s a relevant specialty for the most pressing issues that she deals with in her clinic. At this point. At the time of the recording, she’s helped close to 2500 Breastfeeding dyads and had a successful breastfeeding experience for her clients. She’s created some online courses to spread accurate knowledge and information on common breastfeeding issues. And her favorite thing is tongue tie. So empowering families to reach their goals is truly what feeds Melanie’s soul. And she is just such a great person to have in the profession, I would highly encourage you that if you are around the Boise Idaho area or even if you’re not, I know certainly surrounding states, it can be really far and few between to find some great in person support. She’s a wonderful resource. 


So I asked Melanie if she would be on the show for obvious reasons. But for you guys to get a chance to hear from another IBCLC who you know, practices in a similar but also different way. So without further ado, here’s my interview with Melanie Hedstrom of baby bonds. Welcome to the show. Melanie, I’m really excited for you to talk to our audience today. And I would just love for you to share really kind of anything that you want to share. But whether you want to start off with your own personal breastfeeding experiences, or how you became an IBCLC or if both of those things are connected. I would just love for you to tell us more about why you do what you do.


Melanie Henstrom  4:35  

Absolutely. So I’m a mom of six including twins which I am 10 and nursed all of my well the twins but I nursed all of my children until they were about a year and I at the time did not know about tongue tie at all but we experienced many of the symptoms from projectile vomiting to painful feeds thrush, I was Candida Queen of the universe. I had it so Many times I can’t even count mastitis clogged ducts all the time. My first daughter was must have been an air swallow or because she would just lose so much of her her milk she was taking. So at the time, we just kind of powered through it and had no idea that that’s what was going on. When my kids all went back to school full time, and I kind of found myself a little bit, not knowing what to do. I was had been taking care of six little people for so many years and got a little depressed and thought I’ve got to figure out something. So I actually did postpartum doula work for several years, and mainly for moms of multiples. And then I decided to look into lactation. But when I found out how hard it was to become a lactation consultant, I kind of pushed it to the side a little bit and thought, oh, I don’t know about that. But then I felt compelled again until like into it and then decided to go for it and actually got all of my clinical hours literally almost to the day from when I moved from Portland to Boise. So it was it worked out beautifully as far as my classwork, my coursework and my clinicals and everything. So that’s kind of my my little story about kind of how I got where I am. And I have my own full time practice here in Boise, mainly specializing in tongue tight, but I love doing all the other things too. prenatals are kind of my favorite. I like doing induce like to patients. So I’m definitely like to kind of branch out when I can. Oh, I


Jacqueline Kincer  6:35  

love that. I love that. And you have additional training too. So things like infant massage, rhythmic movement, cranial sacral therapy, cranial sacral fascial therapy. How did you get into that? You know, for me, I obviously that’s related to the tides and how those things enhanced your work as an IBCLC.


Melanie Henstrom  6:56  

Absolutely. So bodywork is crucial for these babes, we definitely see better improvement, either with or without release, with body work for sure. So I was really lucky to be able to be mentored by Brenda Sanpei, who taught me the rhythmic movements. And then I learned infant massage with loving touch in Portland. And that was several years ago while I was a postpartum doula. And then I started doing Upledger, cranial sacral, about probably five or six years ago, and then just trained with Gillespie for cranial sacral fascial. Last year, which was probably my favorite of all the classes, honestly, it’s unfortunately super expensive. So not everyone can attain that class. But if you do get a chance, and if that’s one of the ones that you know, if you are in working with babies, or even other adults in the bodywork realm, that was one that I would really recommend. And then this next month, I’m actually going to Ashlynn to do a pediatric specific cranial sacral there. So I just keep keep going, I just want to planning some myofascial next next year. So I just have found her braided into my practice, that we see such better results. And that’s nice for the families to not have to go to yet another appointment. So we just do it within the lactation visit. Oh,


Jacqueline Kincer  8:21  

that’s so cool. Yes, I know, anytime we’ve got somebody who’s experiencing breastfeeding challenges, let alone just has a newborn or a little baby. Sending them multiple places is not the thing that we like to do. But sometimes we have to so that’s really cool. I’d love to know, I mean, so you’ve had your practice, you are very busy, which is so awesome. You see a lot of families, what what are you kind of your specialties, but like what are some of the most common challenges that you encounter when it comes to breastfeeding?


Melanie Henstrom  8:52  

Sure, um, well, we do see often failure to thrive, which is heartbreaking to see and I think a lot of these families don’t even know that their babies even struggling that much. They they see them day in and day out. And they don’t realize that their baby’s not gaining appropriately, they might be gaining a little bit, but they’re also gaining in the length. And so they’ll start out kind of a little chunky initially when they’re born and then they just get skinnier and skinnier and skinnier and they’re just not doing well. So I do see a lot of that. Just yesterday, we did a release on a baby that was aspirating he had failed his sex study sex while study he was at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake. And they didn’t have any answers for him. And over and over again we see with these babies that ended up on NG tubes and or G tubes that a tongue tie release every time so far. And we’ll wait to see about this little guy here would be our first that it hasn’t fixed it and they stop aspirating and they can get rid of their G tubes and it’s so exciting and thrilling for me to see that improvement and for these parents to I mean they they are so so thrilled with the end result of not having to have to feed their children through a tube?


Jacqueline Kincer  10:03  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it can be so scary. And there’s so much that you have to maintain and watch out for. And, you know, certainly that’s not what we’re hoping for when we have our little babies. So yeah,


Melanie Henstrom  10:17  

lots of pains for the mamas also, lots of postpartum depression. Because things are so tough with these tight babies, they are eating super often. They’re not satiated, or after soft and swallowing air. So they’re cranky. and moms just think, well, that’s just babies, they cry, right? Well, most of these babies posts released are the happiest babies on the planet because they’re no longer swallowing air.


Jacqueline Kincer  10:43  

And I think that’s like a really important thing to say, because I have a lot of families that will have this concern of, well, I don’t know if I want to put my baby through a procedure that’s going to upset them and cause them to be cranky and in pain. But you’re saying, which is what I’ve seen too, which is that they’re usually way more upset before than they are after. I mean, immediately after they might be upset. But like, in those coming days, generally they’re doing better, right?


Melanie Henstrom  11:08  

Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, sure.


Jacqueline Kincer  11:13  

And so like you have worked really closely with a dentist that treats ties in your area, who we’ve had on the podcast, which is super cool. Tell us what that’s like, because, you know, we can we can talk about this in a bit, kind of what your role is, is the lactation consultant and doing the bodywork. But so many people, you know, they just go yeah, just you know, give me the name of the dentist and I’ll go get the tie release. Like, I don’t know if we want to do that. But what’s that partnership like for you to go back and forth with that provider. And you know, if you want to kind of go into like what your role is in that process? Because it’s just one of those where you know, people want a quick fix. I totally get it. You’re on the struggle, blast, it sucks. But, you know, we can’t always just jump to that.


Melanie Henstrom  12:02  

Sure, for sure. Yeah. So I work with Dr. Zink, we’ve worked together for almost five years. He’s an amazing provider, I really appreciate how much he supports IBCLCs. And the importance that we play in the role. In fact, people not do a release unless someone’s working with an IBCLC. And I don’t think that that’s the case with a lot of these dentists, or other providers that are doing releases, and it’s so crucial for so many reasons. We’re there to help make sure baby still gaining afterwards, we’re there to make sure that the latches improving, we’re there to help with the bodywork, the oral work, the wind management, so on the day of release, I actually it was as long as baby’s allowing it, I tried to do some cranial sacral before the release. And when we do that, I find that they calmed down so much faster afterwards, which is really exciting to see. And most of the time our babies are if they if they are, you know crying for a little bit more than a few minutes, it’s very rare. And they actually will often just fall right asleep post procedure. So that’s made a huge difference. For our days, when we’re doing releases just to have that more calm presence. Before and after. For the parents, I think it helps them to see their baby, relax before the procedure, we always get some Homeopathics on board, which is super helpful. I lean towards Camillia and Rescue Remedy for kids. And those are my two favorites, I find that the highlands has lactose in it and and Arnica unless you buy the one without lactose is often upsetting to the belly, but those they tend to do quite well with. So I always like to encourage parents to do that. And then only Tylenol as needed. We try to avoid it as much as we can. And most the time the Homeopathics. And the comfort measures are sufficient. And so we just walked through the hall, you know, kind of remind parents, here’s the temporary measures, make sure you do lots of skin on skin when you get home breast milk, ice chips, all of those things. And then I helped baby to try to get to the breast afterwards or if the baby’s not breastfeeding in a bottle. And so I think that and I’ve had parents over and over again, tell me we’re so glad you’re here. Just yesterday when mom was like it made me feel so much better knowing you were going back with my baby, because I’ve already built a rapport with them. And so and then I assist Dr. Singh for the release too. And we encourage parents not to go back. But we don’t say no, but we kind of kind of discouraged just because it’s we think it’s hard on mom and baby to see that. But anyway, most of the time they choose not to come and so we bring the baby back in within a few minutes and get them back in mom’s arms. And usually they are doing quite well within a few minutes.


Jacqueline Kincer  14:49  

Yep, yep, I’ve seen that too. I’ve worked really closely with Dr. Ashley Bower in my area and done the exact same as what you’re saying minus the cranial sacral therapy but It gives that reassurance I too have also had parents say, you know, having me, you know, be the one that is there assisting with the procedure or helping without latch, you know, afterwards, you know, this may be their first time meeting the dentist. And so you know, having me there and making sure that there’s continuity of care, like all of those things are so critical and that reassurance because like, the dentist isn’t really going to help you out your baby. So, like, do you want to be figuring it out when you’re in a moment of like distress? And you’ve been worried for those few minutes that you are away from your baby? Right? And? Yeah, we we’ve done the same to where we don’t say you can’t come back. But we generally tell people not to, because the parents that do. They’re like, Man, I probably shouldn’t have been in the room, it’s too hard for them to see their baby, just, you know, go through that even though it’s quick. And you know, the results are good. So it’s great to know that you’re seeing the same things, right. So many of us lactation consultants, it’s great when we can, you know, talk amongst ourselves like, what are we doing in practice? What are we seeing what’s working, and what’s not working? So I love the doctors Inc, really is supporting your role in this?


Melanie Henstrom  16:10  

Sure, for sure, it makes a huge difference. Yeah, and let’s


Jacqueline Kincer  16:13  

take a step back for a second too. Because if someone’s not familiar with this, or they haven’t had a provider in their area that does this. And you know, sometimes it can be hard to find, but like, what is cranial sacral therapy? Like? How does that work? And because you mentioned that it can be really helpful for calming the baby down before the procedure. So for parents that don’t know, maybe give us a little explainer.


Melanie Henstrom  16:35  

So probably the best way that I’ve found to explain it in simple terms is that cranial sacral therapy is a super light modality that we follow the rhythm of the central nervous system, which to some might sound kind of hokey, but your brain is in constant motion, it’s expanding and contracting, your spinal cord is moving up and down your nerves are in movement. So with that training, you learn how to feel that rhythm. And when you move with that rhythm, it is very calming to the central nervous system, it helps release tension can heal from trauma. So these babies, the best way that I explain it is it’s almost like you’re saying to the body, I hear you. And that’s probably my best way to explain it. But these babies, a lot of times, they’ll be kind of fussy. And if we can come on down for just a moment, however it may be my most common thing that I find calms them is the spinal route where I just put my hand on their back and I follow that rhythm of their spinal cord up and down. And it’s about a seven to 10 second up and then 710 second down. And it’s almost like they go into the zone, like they are just relaxed. And the parents are just sitting there going, what are you doing? How did you do that I’ve never used so it is magical. And when you explain it, some people didn’t really believe it or understand it until they actually experienced their baby going from Busey to calm. But it’s a pretty, pretty cool thing. And sometimes I think to myself, am I like, Am I really doing this like, it’s seems like such an easy, simple thing, like I’m hardly even moving. And yet, baby after baby after baby, you see this response and you’re like, Okay, I must be doing something because they’re obviously calming down, and they seem a lot more relaxed. And I get parents telling me all over, you know, over and over again. My baby has been more happy in the last few days than they’ve ever been since she worked on him. So that’s exciting to see. And it’s it’s one of my favorite things to do. And when my new favorite thing is to actually go into the hospitals, right as their, you know, within the same day or the next day and do some cranial sacral and cranial fascial in the actual hospital room, which is really fun. So,


Jacqueline Kincer  18:49  

yeah, that’s really cool, especially considering that they just got their head squeezed and cranial plates shifting and, you know, depending on how long they’re in the birth canal or all those things positioning in the womb, like oh, gosh, you know, I can’t imagine they come out feeling super comfortable. So that’s awesome. I think, what about moms? I feel like moms need that to


Melanie Henstrom  19:13  

be nice to do moms. I don’t I don’t guess I like enjoy working on adults as much like I work on my husband. He he begs me sometimes and


Jacqueline Kincer  19:23  

I’m not sure I would too. Yeah.


Melanie Henstrom  19:27  

cranial sacral. So I work on him. But I and I have had people ask me now that I’m training Gillespie, I guess it’s not super abundant, especially in this area. I may be the only one that’s practicing Gillespie in the area. And so I have had multiple calls of adults and people that want their toddlers treated and I’m like, Well, I’m willing to try treating a toddler but it probably is not going to go super great if I’m being honest, but I have actually had times with one and a half year olds Some treatment has been actually decent. And if they’re sitting in mom’s arms, and we give them something to kind of distract. I actually had one of the most cool things that have ever happened. I had a one and a half year old who came in with severe airway issues. And she was arching her in her sleep waking about every hour to nurse her entire life from day one until one and a half. And the midwife had told her no, the tongue ties mild, it won’t cause any problems. So the mom kind of just, you know, okay, so a year and a half later, when she’s about ready to lose her mind from waking up for every hour, for a year and a half, she learned about tongue ties, and someone said, You need to go see Melanie. So she came to see me learned about the art chain and how that’s a sign of airway issues. We did a release on that babies. From then on was sleeping beautifully, no more arching, sleeping through the night, mom was thrilled. And then teething started. And she got all congested and went south again, started doing all of the bad habits, again with airway and arching and waking often. And so I told them, I’m like, you’re welcome to come in. I don’t think it’s through attachment. I saw you through the full six weeks, everything looked amazing. I think it’s probably teething if she’s congested. But she things just weren’t getting better. So she said, You know, I want to come in. So I assessed everything, the tongue looked great. We did one session of cranial sacral. And she wrote me a week later and said, I don’t know what you did. But we’re back to sleeping normal, even though she’s still teething. So that was really, really, really exciting. And she’s been that way for a few months now. So those are some kind of just incredible stories that things that I get to experience with that and it just as a, you know, as a testimony that these babies they are so pliable they need this bodywork and sometimes the tongue tie released is not enough. And so the the bodywork is so crucial, and really those that do the bodywork and release have the best results versus those that just do bodywork or those that just to release?


Jacqueline Kincer  22:07  

Yeah, yeah, I think that’s really important is that, you know, really all of these pieces are needed. And, you know, I would love for you to speak to the role from the IBCLC perspective in treating ties. Because, you know, I think it’s one that somehow parents have gone. Yeah, I’ll do the bodywork, and I’ll do the release, but they feel like they can dry this lactation piece, which I don’t know, you know, some of that, I think is like a misunderstanding of what we do. They’re like, while I, you know, I don’t need someone to help me with the latch, or my milk supply is good. And I’m like, there’s actually a lot more we can do. Maybe your lactation consultant doesn’t have those tools in their toolbox, but you’ve taken it upon yourself to get additional training, right, like, myself, my team. So yeah, I would just maybe if you could, like, walk us through, like, you know, if you’re seeing a family, you know, maybe you’re identifying the ties, or they you know, they already know, but it’s before they’re going to get the procedure done. Like what do you do? What do you look for? And then even afterwards and whatnot, because, yeah, it’s just some clarity around that. And the really, I think it’s such an important thing, not because it’s what I do, but like, no, really, like, it does matter. So yeah, I think you’re just such a great person to tell us more about that.


Melanie Henstrom  23:29  

Sure. So I think that the one of the things that we can see, when we see these babies before and after release is we can actually talk through some of the symptoms we’re seeing and how we’re seeing improvements. But also, we can do a weighted feed both before and you know, right after, and then a few weeks later, to see that improvement. I think that like I talked about earlier, I think some parents think things are going okay, but they’re not. And they don’t even know that right? Like, they just assume, well, most people are having pain, or most people are having a bad latch, or most people’s babies feed for 45 minutes at a time. So they don’t even know that that’s not normal. And I over and over again, I’ll have clients come in and they’ll say, you know, on their intake, it’ll say breastfeeding is going well. I’m just wanting, you know, to double check things and then you start talking to them and you’re thinking to yourself, This is not going well. How are you saying this is going well, right? And good for them for being optimistic, but obviously, it’s important. Honestly, if we could get every mom and baby in for lactation early on within the first few days, I think we would see a lot less problems going forward for a lot of these babies. Not to mention, the advantage of that happens with their whole entire midface development. If we get these ties early, right, we can get that job development in that pallet development, which then in turn helps with so many things, airway and orthodontia and on and on. So yeah, these these parents I think just start Have you been aware of how things are not going well, so and then also we can a lot of us as lactation consultants, even if we aren’t trained in bodywork can give parents tools to, you know, go to YouTube and do some videos on infant massage, or here’s a link to bring Assam pays rhythmic movements or here is some SEC training flipped by Melissa Cole or whatever. And there’s a lot of things that we can do to help prepare these babies for procedure. And some of these babies do so well with bodywork, they don’t always need a release, too. So there’s, there’s, it’s just important, and a lot of people don’t know now with lactation network that a good portion of these families are covered at 100% for all their visits, all they have to do is go to the lactation network link on their lactation consultants website for that specific person’s link and apply. And so all the blues, the region’s the anthem, Cigna, voc VA champ now is one piano a I mean, they’ll keep adding and even if mom or babe has Medicaid, and the other one mom or baby has one of those other insurances, those are covered too. So it’s certainly worth it to apply. Because I think that’s the biggest hang up for a lot of these people as they don’t want to spend the money. And yet, if things don’t go, well, the cost of formula is way more expensive than the cost to pay for us. So and I think they just don’t think that far out. So,


Jacqueline Kincer  26:31  

so true. And I think that families aren’t even aware that, you know, if you do find a lactation consultant that, you know, maybe doesn’t accept insurance on their own, like, there are ways for you to get it covered out of network. And so, you know, a good a good lactation consultant, we’ll help you navigate that and tell you how to do it. But you know, and there’s some some resources all I’ll link those up in the show notes for people that are interested, just that are out there existing, but you can, you know, submit receipts to your insurance company. And, you know, there’s a whole thing you can try to go through. Now, I’m not saying that’s easy, necessarily depends on your insurance company, and who’s looking at that, but there are options, right? So it’s, it’s important to know that and any I think, you know, like you’re saying, you know, some lactation consultants might just provide some guidance of here’s some videos, resources, but there are a lot of us that are actually doing that oral work. And so you know, it’s not really the same as bodywork, right? Like, it’s, it’s a different thing. And some people go, Oh, yeah, I found a sec training video on YouTube. I’m like, So training is like one thing that we can do with oral work, right? There’s others. And so, you know, that’s, like, really important. But yeah, what’s kind of your process with people? Like, if you have a family come to you, they’re like, I think breastfeeding is going okay. And then you’re observing, you’re assessing, you’re asking questions, and you’re like, Ooh, yeah, it’s not going great. Right, here’s what I would suggest. What’s your process with them going forward? Like? Do you want to follow up with them? Again? I mean, I guess, you know, depends on severity, but just kind of what what should people expect? Because I feel like people think I just need one visit with a lactation consultant. And that will cover everything. But it’s really hard to do in a lot of cases for me, so I don’t know about you.


Melanie Henstrom  28:22  

Yeah, so I would say the majority of people coming to me already know their baby’s tight. That’s why they’re coming to me. And they know that Dr. Zink and I are a great team, and they want to work with us. And so those type of visits, of course, are probably easier in the sense that the parents are already educated on ties and why leaving them and treated is not a good idea. And so they come for the assessment and the start of body work. And then usually they they want to schedule, if a person comes and they’re not aware of ties at all, and I assess baby, and I tell him, I think that that’s what’s going on with your baby. I basically say, you know, here are your options. You can do body work, you can do body work, and release. And, you know, I encourage you to go home and educate yourself about the importance of this. And if we have time in the visit, I will and they want me to I will educate them on why it’s important to treat and how it affects the airway and all of the things that it does. And then I just tell him, if you decide you want to do a release, you can text me and we’ll do follow up. And if you want to just do body work, feel free to go to my website and schedule for some more bodywork. So I give them the options. I would say most people do do a release but you know, I do have families that I’m sure you know, obviously are not excited about that. yet. No one’s excited about the idea but decided not to. And those families. You know, sometimes I don’t see them again, which makes me sad. But, you know, he so you don’t know how that’s going but I’m busy enough that I don’t you know, call him and say hey, that’s coming for another appointment. So it’s kind of just up to them to decide what to do on that. But I do give them resources on my resource page, I have videos for them of the rhythmic movements, and some input massage and SEC training and aftercare stretches. And the tongue tie PDF, which walks them through, like comfort measures, pain relief options, all of those things. So ideally, all of my clients read that before they come. So they already are kind of educated, it has links to websites and links to studies that talk about it. So that helps us to know, you know, at least kind of what where why were there at the visit is to likely talk about that. And then they’re not totally blindsided about what it is that is likely going on.


Jacqueline Kincer  30:47  

Yeah, that’s so great. Yeah. Because I think that can be so hard is to kind of go, you know, as the client right to just book it and go Well, I don’t really know what to expect. So, you know, they’re coming into you going, Oh, yeah. Okay, I know what Melanie is going to do. These are the things she’s going to talk about. This is awesome, right? So you have the awesome story of the like one and a half year old that you helped with the cranial sacral therapy, what are maybe just you know, if you have some really cool stories to share of like moms and babies that you’ve helped with their challenges related to tongue ties. Because I find, you know, there can be a lot of from from parents negative stories, especially, and, you know, they’ll find a, you know, a tongue tie support group. And, you know, unfortunately, right, sometimes people don’t get the full gamut of care that they should get. And so I always tell people, please take those with a grain of salt. With my surgery that I had this year, you know, there’s some spine surgery groups I’m in. Yeah, there are horror stories there, you have to like pay attention to your mental health and go, that’s that person’s experience. That’s not representative of what I should expect, right, like, so if you have some good stories, positive stories to share, I would love for our audience to hear and our audience to, you know, I know a lot of you listening, you’re breastfeeding moms yourselves, or maybe you’re pregnant, you’re praying to breastfeeding. But we also have a lot of professionals that are out there trying to work with families and help them to


Melanie Henstrom  32:17  

write. So two little girls came to mind when you when you said that, probably, in my opinion, my most rewarding cases that I can think of in my whole career, actually, one little girl, we’ll call her Esther, she was failure to thrive significantly, when she came to see me at 11 months, or 10 months, she weighed only 11 pounds. And we, you know, her the doctors were confused as to what was going on. She was in nursing often. But sleeping a lot because she was so malnourished. Mom thought she had a milk supply because baby was feeding, you know, probably many, many times in the day, but really wasn’t transferring Well, they did a genetic testing on her, they found that she had a very low growth hormone. And so they thought there was you know, maybe something going on with genetics, they were getting ready to test for something else. And they were scheduled to get a G tube inserted. And when I assessed her tongue, I actually really liked her time there, there was a submucosal frenulum. But it did not feel tight. I was I was it was very weak that her tongue was extremely weak. And I told them I’m you know, I don’t even know for certain that there is a tongue tie in this situation. But it’s definitely worth a try versus a G Tube. Because that’s way more invasive and not very fun at all. And so they hope they decided to do a release, and it actually fixed the problem. And she parked right up and her growth hormone came right up. It was all because of malnourishment. And so it was super exciting to see like her before and after pictures are astounding. And she is growing beautifully now and thriving, and not having any speech issues or feeding issues at all. So that was super exciting to see. So the thing I guess the lesson we learned with that and I’ve seen it over and over again is most people get really hung up on what the anatomy of the tongue looks like. And I don’t care what the anatomy looks like, I don’t care if baby can do palatal seal. I don’t care if the frenulum submucosal I don’t care if the tongue seems to have even decent function. If the symptoms are there and parents are open to release. Let’s give it a try. Because guess what, it almost always fixes the problems. So and that’s, you know, we have we have some people that talk about quote bow tie. I don’t believe in that at all. I believe that these babies that are having tie symptoms have a tie whether it looks like they do or don’t. And because I’ve seen it over and over again to fix these problems. So I other,


Jacqueline Kincer  35:07  

can I interject really quick, because I think what you said is so important. I was having this discussion with another IBCLC today, and it was not related to lactation. But just, you know, I’ve heard this, it’s taken me years to find a really great pediatrician, which sounds crazy, like, I obviously have a high standard because I work with them a lot. And so I’m like, You don’t know anything about breastfeeding? Like, I just don’t feel comfortable going to you. Which is, you know, a lot of pediatricians right. So anyway, now we have a great one. And, you know, some other providers for my children and the issues that I’ve gone through with my own stuff, right. And the there’s like this hallmark of a good provider that I’ve kept hearing from the ones that I finally find that know what’s going on and how to fix it, which is, don’t treat the diagnosis, treat the symptoms. And that’s what I’m hearing you say, right, like, don’t treat based on, you know, the, you know, kind of an image or structure, write a piece of anatomy, treat the symptoms, because that’s where, like, yes, we have to put something down on paper, I guess, if especially if you’re going to bill insurance, right. But like, it’s crazy to me that that we would just go it’s a checkbox, yes or no? And then that determines everything, like, no. So I just for the listeners, I would encourage you to listen to what Melanie just said, and, you know, find somebody that’s like, you know, if the symptoms are symptoms of a tie, and you’ve been told it’s not because somebody looked under the tongue, get somebody to look at the symptoms. So I just had to say that,


Melanie Henstrom  36:42  

for sure. And the other thing that is interesting with Dr. zincs technique is that not only does he release the frenulum, he releases the fascia behind the frenulum. And not all providers are doing that. And I think it’s a game changer for ultimate results. So in this case, this little girl, it was the fascia, it was for sure the fascia, because again, her frenulum felt fine. So that’s something that you know, if other providers could get on board to learn how to do that it’s just a manual release once they do the laser, and it makes a huge difference. These babies have more released through their body. And they’re less likely to have the symptoms because we’ve gotten everything that’s restricting under that time to move out of the way so that their tongue can do what it needs to do. So yeah. So this other baby will call this baby reset, but that’s not really her name. She was on a G Tube. When I got here her first few months of life she was on an NG tube was failing miserably at taking bottles mom had dried up already baby couldn’t latch at the breast. multiple providers from an EMT pediatrician, multiple lactation consultants, gi specialists, all these people had said no tongue tie on this baby. Well, same situation, tongue look decent underneath. And mom wasn’t even certain that she believed what you know what I was telling her that I think that’s what’s causing this baby to aspirate. So when she was probably three or four months, they ended up putting in a G Tube. And so at this point, when she came to see me she was several months old, and the mom was desperate to find a way to get her baby off of G two. And they decided after conversing with many people, including another mom and baby that I had worked with that we had gotten off a G tube to go ahead and give it a try. And within a month she was in surgery getting that G tube out. And you know, the GI doc was not super easy to convince that the baby could get it out. But they actually did it another swallow study because at first the GI doc said no. And probably out of embarrassment that she missed the tie. But they did a another small study and she passed and so she got her G tube out. And the mom of course was a static and also very angry with all the providers that missed it that her baby had to go through all of that. And she reached out to the hospital and all of the she made these little packets of the babies swallow study before and after tongue tie release and all the studies about tongue tie release and put up together a packet with her pictures in there with her being G Tube free and basically said you guys need to learn about this like this is not okay that you guys put our family through this when we didn’t need to be so Wow.


Jacqueline Kincer  39:39  

Yeah. I love that kind of advocacy work. It’s amazing.


Melanie Henstrom  39:46  

I mean, she she really made a huge effort as a mama to to try to help make a difference for future families. So I think it’s important, you know, and your podcasts do that too. Right? So many families that will Listen to this will hopefully go forward and be able to help with their future children or friends that they know, to avoid having to go through these things that, really, unfortunately, if we could just get more pediatricians educated in ties, none of this would happen. But it’s I don’t know why it’s such a problem. It’s not hard. It is not hard. That’s what’s so frustrating to me. Yeah. So


Jacqueline Kincer  40:23  

I agree. I agree. And for the families that, you know, either have, you know, sort of been medically gaslit in a way of like, oh, it’s not a tie, or that’s not a thing or that’s a fad. You know, we still hear that it’s crazy. Like, what are we in the 1970s? I don’t get it. But you know, or they’ve been told I checked, it’s not a tie, or, you know, they don’t even know where to begin. They don’t maybe live in a huge metro area, right? Like, what advice would you give them to try to find some good treatment?


Melanie Henstrom  40:59  

Yeah, I just had a family traveled five hours yesterday to come do a release with us because they don’t have the resources and that Mama, her baby was headed again towards the G tube and from aspiration. I talked to him about him a little earlier today. And, you know, I think if parents are willing to travel, there are resources. And she found me on Instagram. I don’t remember what post or what I did or whatever. But she started messaging me and trying to find answers for her baby. She wants to breastfeed Superbad. It’s her last baby. But every time she does, he chokes. And so he’s having to do a thickener in his cuddles. And she is devastated. And so that’s why she reached out. And I either have high hopes that within a week, he’s going to be feeding it the rest without any problems. But so many times, you know, doctors, if there’s a low supply, they say do formula or a baby’s choking, they say out of thickener, and there’s better solutions. So they just need to learn. Learn about those better solutions. So yeah,


Jacqueline Kincer  42:04  

yeah, I yeah, I agree. You know, unfortunately, sometimes it is the case that you just have to travel to go get these things done. And you know, if the answers you’re hearing are not good enough for you, then I would say you to pay attention to that. And I know you’ve spoken at conferences, you posted one, you’ve obviously attended lots for continuing education. You work with, you know, providers and other disciplines. What I’m curious what you think the future holds for understanding and treatment of tongue ties. And, you know, how can health care professionals continue to improve support for breastfeeding moms and their babies who are dealing with it?


Melanie Henstrom  42:50  

Yeah, I think that I think we’re seeing some improvements. Like if I think back to when I first started practicing to now I think we’re seeing less pediatricians that are, I still think we’re not where we should be. But I think we’re seeing less pediatricians that are completely clueless, I think we’re seeing less pediatricians doing partial releases, which is good to see. Because the last thing we want is some scar tissue and still having, you know, problems and parents thinking that they’ve taken care of the time when they haven’t. And so I think that we are seeing some improvement there. I for probably a few years when I first started practicing would go do lunch and learns at pediatricians offices. And for the most part, it was not successful. I felt like they weren’t really listening. I had a few that listen, and those few keep me busy. Which is nice. In fact, my favorite response after my one of my presentations that the pediatrician raised his hand and I said yes. And he said, Where have you been all of our lives. And I was like, Yay, you got it. You understood what I said and, and he stopped clipping and he started sending and that’s exciting to see. So I think what you know if we can do our part to network to get to know people well enough so that they trust us to be able to educate. You know, one by one is what we do, and hopefully over time, and I encourage parents to especially if they have come and told me my pediatrician said my baby’s not tired or my pediatrician said not to do a release, and they decide to do it anyway, I encourage them to go back to their pediatrician and say, Hey, this actually helped quite a bit and you know, you you were not right on this. And sometimes they’ll send the tongue tight but by Baxter with them if they feel confident and and not too embarrassed to say and here’s something to learn more. There, you know, there’s little ways that we can get the word out and hopefully make a difference over time.


Jacqueline Kincer  44:47  

Yeah, no, I agree. I love that. And I think that’s, you know, what I’m seeing in my neck of the woods and you know, what I’m seeing in other countries as well is that you know, we are making progress and As we’re getting better, but it can be really powerful when parents communicate that back and, you know, I totally hear like you said, you have, you know, the one mom, she was so angry, right? If you take that anger, and you just leave that practice and you go get a different doctor, like you said, you know, they’re probably not going to call and follow up and go, Hey, let’s do a little survey. Why did you leave? Why were you unhappy? Like, we don’t really get those. So if you can communicate that with them, and you know, the more people that do, the more that they will go, Hmm, maybe there’s something to this whole tongue tie treatment? For sure. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, well, I love it. Where can people find you? Can they travel five hours to where’s the nearest airports? But ya know, your your great, and, and doctors and cars. Amazing. So yeah, just, you know, we can link up your information in the show notes. But you said you’re on Instagram. So yeah, tell us where people can find you.


Melanie Henstrom  45:58  

So Instagram is baby bonds, Bo N dS underscore Boise, and I’m on Facebook under baby bonds. My website is Baby And there, I have some pretty great tongue tie resources, I have actually a tongue tie page and a tongue tied PDF. That’s a really great free resource to anyone who wants to access that. And it basically walks you through how to have a successful release. And there’s links on there on the studies and other websites to learn more. So that’s a really great resource for individuals. If you forget my website, or whatever, you can find my PDF on Dr. Get Harry’s website under resources. So it’s actually an old one, I need to send an updated one to him. But there’s Yeah, it’s a it’s a great resource and has been used, actually internationally. So that’s exciting to see, to have just something that parents can kind of know what, what they’re up against, and why and how to have a successful release and all of the steps to do that.


Jacqueline Kincer  47:04  

I love it. Yeah, so important. So yeah, I think a great place to start is your guide. And yeah, you guys know how to connect with Melanie now. So thank you, Melanie, for sharing your experiences and your expertise with us because it’s so great to know. You know, I just, I love bringing awareness to what you do and just, you know, the work that IBCLCs can do to improve breastfeeding for people. So I appreciate you being here today.


Melanie Henstrom  47:35  

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you.


In this episode, we had the pleasure of interviewing Melanie Henstrom, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) from Baby Bonds, who specializes in tongue ties and has helped close to 2,500 breastfeeding dyads.

During our conversation, we delved into various topics, including: 

  • Common symptoms of ties and why they are so often missed or ignored by other healthcare providers
  • How to spot ties, when to treat them, and how to find great providers to help
  • Melanie’s background in various bodywork modalities, such as Infant Massage, Rhythmic Movements, Craniosacral Therapy, and Craniosacral Fascial Therapy, and how these techniques can greatly improve tongue tie issues
  • Some incredible outcomes she’s had with challenging patient cases, showcasing her dedication to providing the best possible care for her clients
  • Changes in healthcare over the last 5-10 years and Melanie’s predictions for the future of tongue tie assessment & treatment

A glance at this episode:

  • [4:35] How Melanie got into the IBCLC field
  • [10:03] What a tie release looks like after the procedure
  • [14:49] What cranial sacral therapy is and how it works
  • [22:07] The role of an IBCLC in treating ties
  • [26:31] How to find a lactation consultant that accepts insurance
  • [30:47] Melanie’s most rewarding patient story
  • [35:07] Why you should treat the symptoms, not the diagnosis
  • [39:41] Advice for parents with tongue tie issues
  • [44:47] How to communicate your success with tongue tie treatment to your doctor

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