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Advocating for Your Child

Trust Your Parent Gut

My husband and I had our first child in December of 2021. Shortly after Ellie was born, we started having concerns about feeding her. She was not able to latch to breastfeed and seemed to struggle to drink out of a bottle. We asked questions while we were at the hospital, but these were dismissed and told everything was normal. Within the first few days of her coming home, she began to show symptoms of colic and was often upset, wouldn’t sleep in her own bassinet, and continued to struggle with drinking bottles. We talked with her pediatrician about our concerns and again, we were dismissed and told that she just had acid reflux.

We continued to struggle with Ellie and my gut told me that something just wasn’t right. We kept asking questions, did research, and eventually went to get a second opinion. We were then referred to a lactation specialist where we discovered that Ellie had significant tongue and lip ties. These ties were severely affecting her ability to suck on a bottle and could potentially be the cause of her colic and discomfort. Long story short, we ended up getting Ellie’s ties released through a pediatric dentist and the difference for her was astounding. Within a week, Ellie was showing huge improvements, she was drinking better, sleeping better, and we saw a significant reduction in fussiness.

What I learned from this, that I want to share with parents, is to Trust your Parent Gut and advocate for your child. I want parents to feel empowered to speak up and be persistent in requesting what they feel is best for their child. Sometimes doctors or other professionals can make us doubt our gut, because they are the experts, but WE, as parents, know our children best! We are the experts when it comes to our children. If something doesn’t feel right, trust that feeling, do more research, get educated, ask for a second opinion, and seek support.

Sometimes we need to keep asking questions and not accept no for an answer. Speaking up for our kids is especially important with very young children, who are still developing their communication skills and may not be able to accurately articulate the situation.

While my story applies to advocating for my child’s physical health, this is just as relevant in other areas such as social/emotional development, mental health, academic development, childcare, and school. In most cases, early intervention is one of the most effective strategies; this means that the sooner we catch and address issues, the better. This is where advocating for your child and speaking up to help identify concerns may be necessary.

One final thought: parenting can be challenging and there is no instruction manual. I’ve learned so much from other parents and their experiences. An important part of being empowered as a parent is having good support. Get yourself a good support system and be a part of others’ support systems. Let’s build each other up as parents!

By Emily Jensby, Mental Health Specialist, LCMFT, RPT