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  • Writer's pictureAlexandra Duprey

Follow your Mom Gut When it Comes to Your Baby's Gut | Going Against Recommendations to Achieve Breastfeeding Success | Milk and Honey Lactation Services

Updated: Mar 15

A mother and baby talk about their breastfeeding success at Milk and Honey Lactation Services in Camden, Delaware.

Breastfeeding can be a challenge. As new parents, we are trying to do what's "right" for our babies by following the advice of our pediatricians, but the truth is that pediatricians are generalists and many aren't up-to-date with current, evidence based research on lactation. Following our mom-gut and going against a doctor's outdated medical advice is a hard thing to do. This is where lactation consultant's come in. IBLCs are well-versed in all the current research and specialize in helping mother's feed their babies. They can help you get to the root of the problem and offer solutions that actually work. I am excited to share a recent interview with a Kelly of Milk & Honey Lactation and a mama/baby team who have achieved breastfeeding success.

I hope you enjoy!

Did you consider seeing a lactation consultant when you were pregnant?

I did. I had even scheduled a lactation consultant via zoom just to check in and somewhat prepare for breastfeeding, but I postponed it figuring I would be fine. Which it was! In the hospital, my baby latched on great and I didn’t think we had a problem at all.

Stumbling upon Milk and Honey was a last ditch effort to help our problem with POOPING. I didn’t think, nor did anyone else I spoke with, that my baby's lack of pooping regularly had anything to do with feeding, but clearly we were wrong.


When did your daughter's issues start and what symptoms was she presenting with? What treatments did your pediatrician recommend?

For the first 3 months of my daughter's life she was having extremely irregular bowel movements and would only go every 7-12 days. Her dad and I were in the doctors office a half a dozen times on top of her monthly visits because she was in so much pain after days of not pooping. We were told this was completely normal, that "this is just what breastfed babies do" and that we could assist her by doing bicycle kicks, giving her warm baths, and rectal stimulation. Then after a few more visits we were told:

  • give her a suppository when she gets to be in pain 

  • Bottle of formula every day 

  • 2 oz of prune juice 

  • 1oz water / 1oz apple juice 

  • prune juice mixed with formula 

  • Straight apple juice 

  • Apple juice mixed with formula

  • Eat more fruit 

Naively, we did all of those things. We listened to the doctors-- like we were supposed to do! That imposter syndrome of being a new mom really kicked in-- I don’t know anything about this, but the doctor does. Who am I to think they’re wrong? When she was not popping, especially when it would get to 10 or 12 days, she would be in so much pain and would wake up in the middle of the night crying. I didn't feel that was normal. When she was day one after pooping she was calm and happy-- a completely different baby compared to when she was on day 10 of not pooping. After that long she would be just miserable.

As anyone would be!

Absolutely! We went to the doctor during the late night hours, I went on Saturdays when they had open hours, we went to the medical aid unit several times and we were always reassured that this was completely normal. They would ask: "Have you tried bicycle kicks?" or "Have you tried belly rubs or a warm bath?" And I would be like "Yes, we do all of these things everyday and we are still on day 10". When we would go to the doctor most of the time, they would stick their pinky up her rectum and say, "Look, she is not constipated. Everything is fine". They would tell me that she was just taking all the nutrients out of my breastmilk and there wasn't much left to poop out. This continued on for two months-- not pooping, the pain-- it was a terrible cycle.

It got to the point that we were at one doctor's visit, I was told to give her a suppository every week:  "If she isn't pooping, on the seventh day, just give her a suppository and that would be that." Mind you, I was there on a Friday and I was the last appointment of the day. I was like "but, but, but, but why!" as they were pushing me out the door so they could go home. "Why would my three month old need a suppository every week?" I consistently asked the doctors (because we saw 3/4 at the practice at this time) WHY she wasn’t pooping-- their only response was that it was normal. It felt as if they were just slapping a bandaid on the problem. And with all of these visits to the Doctor, not one time was a lactation consultant offered to come in the room. 

In the midst of all that, every time I would go in or call they would be asking: "Have you given her prune juice?" or "Have you given her apple juice to get her bowels moving?" She was a month old drinking prune juice-- just straight prune juice!

Also: "Have you given her formula?... Do a formula bottle every day-- that will help" So we are doing all of those things-- all the belly massages, all the fruit juice, and nothing was working. Then I would go to the doctor and they would tell me "Well, that's normal for breastfed babies". And I would say: "But she is not exclusively breastfed anymore because you told me to give her a bottle of formula every day to help her poop."

I felt so bad-- through all those things, her belly would be rumbling-- just think about all the sugar in the apple juice and in the prune juice-- and there would still be no poop. Eventually, there were like: "She's not pooping? Here, give her miralax" or "She's not pooping? Here, give her some suppositories". But the real questions was why she was not pooping and that was not addressed until I came to Milk & Honey for lactation help.

A mother and baby talk about their breastfeeding success at Milk and Honey Lactation Services in Camden, Delaware.

How did you come to seek help from a lactation consultant if the pediatricians weren't referring you?

I was complaining about all this to my friend and I was like, "I just don't know what to do, this is not right" and she told me to go see Brittanie at Milk & Honey. I went as a last ditch effort because I didn’t know what else to do. Again, I had no idea that any of this could be related to feeding.

Within 1 hour of visiting with Brittanie she told me that my daughter:

  • has symptoms consistent with torticollis (schedule an appt with PT and chiro)

  • has symptoms consistent with an oral tie (schedule appt with a dentist) 

  • isn’t latching well enough to get my hindmilk and is only drinking my foremilk and therefore it’s hurting her stomach with a Lactose overload. 

When Brittanie was like, "I think she might have some slight torticollis", she invited Kelly in for a second opinion and was like: "Do you see what I am seeing?", and I was like "oh, my gosh, I had seen that but I didn't think to in-depth about it or think that it was related at all".

That's a lot to unpack. What was your homework leaving that assessment?

I think it was a Friday and I was supposed to come back in on a Tuesday. So Brittani gave me a plan for the weekend. She said that we needed to do regular oral exercises, make an appointment for the pediatric dentist, talk to a physical therapist, make an appointment for the chiropractor. I am like "what is going on?!" I have been to the doctor for three months straight and I was with Brittanie for an hour and she was like "Hey, these are all the things that we need to work on". All of these therapies were around and nobody said anything about any of these the last three months! "Well" I said to myself, "we'll see if this is all just a hoax with this lactation consult sending me to all these specialists."

Brittanie had said that the biggest thing was to work on the oral exercises and focus on baby feeding on the first breast as long as possible-- ensuring that baby is getting foremilk AND hindmilk. Her evaluation was that my baby wasn't feeding efficiently due to oral dysfunction and possible oral ties. My baby was mainly “living off my letdown milk.” Let down milk isn’t high in fat, so it’s common to see an infant struggle with stools who is not feeding efficiently. Due to the tension in her body, she was very uncomfortable on one side, so her latch was shallow and she wasn't feeding effectively.

So the recommendation was to pump before I fed her (specifically for the morning feeds), allow her to feed off the first breast as long as possible so that she would get all that fatty hindmilk. We also discussed foods that I could supplement into my diet that might increase fatty hind milk production-- foods with healthy fats like avocados, salmon, nuts, and eggs and foods rich in vitamin K like kale, Brussel sprouts, and aspargus.

I was to work on positioning to help with my baby's latch until we saw the physical therapist and chiropractor. And perform oral exercise 3-4x daily, make recommended phone calls for appointments, and to return on Tuesday to make sure that she had gained some weight over the weekend. So all weekend long we were doing this, and she gained weight.

I made all of the appointments for my baby and we also went back to the doctors office, this time seeing the last (but supposedly best) doctor in the practice. I told her what Brittanie had relayed and even showed articles about what she thought it could be. 

I was told:

  • foremilk / hindmilk is a myth. 

  • The article was bs. 

  • The chiropractor would hurt her. 

  • Her torticollis wasn’t bad (she then proceeded to pull up a picture on google and showed me a child with extreme torticollis to compare to).

  • A weekly suppository could traumatize her.

  • It sounded like a dairy allergy to her so I needed to stop breastfeeding, cut out dairy entirely, and do hypoallergenic formula instead. 

  • Give her miralax daily in her bottle.

I don't want to take a laxative every day-- why would they recommend that I give this to my daughter everyday? I went to the chiropractor my whole pregnancy and I love the chiropractor I go to-- she specializes in pregnant woman and infants and I fully trusted that it was healthy of her. I couldn't see in a million years how Dr. Wallie could hurt my baby-- she is wonderful. I would never send my sweet little baby to someone who was going to crack her the way you see online.

So mind you, between the four doctors at this practice, and the four months of our struggle at this point, I had been told to twenty different things. The end result was that the problem was ME. I had been so scared that it was me all along and something wrong that I was doing as a mother, and that I am making her sick. I felt like something was wrong with me that I couldn’t feed my baby. The mom guilt brought me to tears on many occasions that I’m putting her in pain by something I’m eating, or by not doing enough to help her poop. And, at the same time, a huge mom guilt by giving her juices and medicines I knew an infant shouldn’t have, but that I was told to do. The feeling of not being able to help your child, especially when they’re in pain is unbearable. 

I immediately drove to see Kelly as I was awfully confused hearing this doc shoot down everything I heard from Brittanie.

I explained to Kelly that it’s so difficult feeling in my GUT that I don’t want to do something for my child, but being told by a medical professional to do it. And I felt like I was breaking some sort of law, or that I was a bad mom by not following the doctors advice. What stood out to me most was that Kelly , asked "how are YOU doing? Are you ok? because this is stressful" Nobody had asked me that. All the things I was going through and no one was asking how I was doing. I felt in my heart that the path I agreed to with Brittanie, the holistic route, was what we were going to move forward with. 

A mother and baby talk about their breastfeeding success at Milk and Honey Lactation Services in Camden, Delaware.

That does sound like you had been put through the wringer. So you went forward with the therapies?

Yes, That week, my daughter went to Physical Therapy and the Chiropractor. She pooped three times in two days, and that was the most in a 48 hr period she’d pooped her whole life. We went from ten days without pooping to working on feeding, moving her body with physical therapy, getting her body aligned with the chiropractor and she pooped more in those two days than she had in the past month. Now I was fully on board. I am like: "whatever you guy's say, I am doing because clearly you know your stuff."

No one should be that excited about poop, but I was. Because it was showing that what we were doing was working and listening to my gut was the right thing, and as bad as it sounds, going against doctor and medical advice was what we had needed to do. It is so hard to listen to a doctor tell you what they think is best and then to go against what they say. Doctors are supposed to be right. They are supposed to be knowledgeable. We aren't supposed to question them. I felt like I was in this conundrum: who am I to question what this doctor is reccomending? Who am I to do that? I had been a mom for three months at this point! But I am so thankful that I did. I am thankful that I listened to my gut, and to Kelly and Brittanie's advice, and that I listened to my daughter because she told me what she wanted!

Did she have that tongue tie revision?

Yes, we eventually went to Dr. Marcus like Brittanie suggested and he lasered it. Her lip and tongue revisions has helped tremendously with her latch and being able to properly and efficiently feed. 

We have continued physical therapy with an infant and toddlers program in our country. They come to our house every week. It's been so wonderful. The program is parent-based so the physical therapist teaches me how to work with her. The physical therapy is helping her torticollis, which was making her uncomfortable to feed one one side. And she continues to go to the chiropractor every week. The chiropractor has been adjusting her spine to relieve pressure on her nerves and restore pathways for her nervous system to function properly.

It is such a big weight off of her shoulders, mine, her dads that everytime she eats now-- and don't get me wrong, sometimes she is super sassy-- but it is not a struggle. It used to be that she was so miserable I couldn't even feed her one one side and I was tense because she is crying-- and now most of the time when she eats it is peaceful. She is eating and pooping like a healthy 4 month old should be. 

Thinking about breastfeeding and the people who give up breastfeeding, or are told not to, it is because it is hard and they need help and support. If my friend had not told me to go to a lactation consultant when I was struggling, I can absolutely have seen myself listening to the doctor, doing bottles, doing formula, and feeling like it was my fault that my child couldn't eat my milk. Because I can guarantee, that if I had cut out dairy, like what was suggested, I would be in the same boat as many others-- I wouldn't have seen any difference and the cycle of "it's my fault" continues. I am thankful that there was something wrong that she couldn't express to me, we fixed it, and now we are in the clear.

Yeah, I think, at first, it is normal for breastfeeding to be hard and for it to be uncomfortable. But after the first two weeks, you develop a callus, you fall into a routine. This process of learning-- for both mama and baby shouldn't take months.

What advice can you offer moms who are either considering going to see a lactation consult, or have already gone and are considering some of the therapies and procedures that have helped you?

It’s so difficult to go against the “norm” and worry about being judged for your parenting, but I’ve learned it’s essential to listen to my gut for the sake of my daughter's well being. I regret giving my daughter anything but breast milk because I simply didn’t know any better. 

I strongly advise any new or expecting mother to consult a lactation consultant. I also advise to listen to your gut, because at the end of the day we as mothers know what’s best for our child. We have to make decisions on what’s sits well with us and that we feel confident about. 

Breastfeeding is such a beautiful journey, but it is also a difficult one, which I didn’t expect. 

I have learned so much in this process about the importance of bodywork for babies. Between her physical therapy, the chiropractor, the dentists revisions (with oral exercises), and the consistent breastfeeding without giving up, I am so confident that my daughter is on the right track for development. I hope so many other mamas are able to seek other options instead of just one source of information - I am so thankful I did! 

If you are pregnant, you should go see a lactation consult-- whether you feel like you are prepared, or not. I wish I had gone before to have had that rapport and that trust built. I truly thinking that my situation would have been totally different if I had come sooner. and of course mom guilt I wonder sometimes "Why didn't I?"

Thank you so much for sharing your story! I hope other women find their own power the way you did yours.

The lactation team of IBLCs at Milk and Honey Lactation Services in Camden, Delaware.

Milk and Honey Lactation Services is located in Camden, Delaware.

You can reach IBLCs Brittanie, Suzannah, and Kelly with the following links:

Emily Ray, the mama interviewed about her breastfeeding journey in this article, is a parenting coach at Ray of Sunshine Parenting. For helpful parenting tips and tricks about following your child's cues and your own gut , follow her at:

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