Weak Jaws

Many, many months ago I wrote a blog entitled ‘The Dreaded Blocked Duct!’ It highlighted the many struggles I had while breastfeeding the twins.

Being born at 31.4 weeks they entered the world before they knew how to eat. After weeks of being tube fed they slowly got stronger and did eventually take to the breast; however, they were never strong enough to get a full feed from it. As a result, I was always topping up with either pumped breast milk or formula.

My struggle wasn’t only with feeding the girls, but also in the form of blocked ducts. I stopped counting after about 16 of them on my right breast alone. I then developed a ‘bleb’ and later had to go in for a biopsy. I’m fortunate though, the results came back negative and the doctor was able to clear the hardened milk from my duct.

I managed to feed the girls breast milk until they were about six months old, but then I turned strictly to formula. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty but a part of me did: Guilty that I couldn’t provide my girls with enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. Guilty that my body kept fighting the natural ‘liquid gold’ that it was built to produce in the form of blocked ducts.

Fast forward a year-and-a-half to when I took the girls to their speech therapy assessment.

Note: I had put them on a wait list for speech therapy ‘just in case’ as I had heard it could take years to get in. When they hit 22 months of age they went in to meet with the speech pathologist.

Talk about a pleasant and eye opening experience.

I learned that Ella who has always been the ‘doer’ out of the two; is more advanced when it comes to speaking. She would repeat almost everything we would say to her and babble away. She’s also the one who’s very attached to me and took a long time to warm up to the speech therapist.

I learned that Zoey who has always been more advanced with her ‘fine’ motor skills and always analyzing before doing; is more advanced when it comes to understanding. She didn’t say much at the appointment but she would understand and do whatever you asked of her, even strange commands like “put the pretend corn on the cob on your knee.” Zoey is my brave little girl and immediately ran to the toys when we entered the room.

Now you might be thinking “What does this have to do with your former breastfeeding issues?” To be honest, I never even thought of a link between the two.

While there the therapist noticed that the girls were drooling quite a bit. While she noted that their speech is bang on and that they don’t seem to have any delays she also pointed out that they seem to have weak jaws (likely due to being born early).

She then asked me if I had had trouble breastfeeding or if I had many blocked ducts! I must have had a look of shock on my face because she quickly explained that their weak jaws were likely the reason for it.

I had never thought of that!

All this time of worrying and wondering why I had had such difficulty, likely came down to something totally out of all of our control! Now knowing that the reason was due to “the perfect storm” of events has somewhat put my mind at ease.

The girls are now using ‘chewy tubes’ to help strengthen their jaws and I’ve already noticed a vast improvement in the amount of drool.

Now I’m focusing on getting my girls’ jaws as strong as the rest of their little bodies and no longer wondering about the ‘what ifs’ of the past.

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