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In this episode I am joined by Michelle Odoerfer, a mother of two young girls living in Clinton Township, Michigan with her husband Andrew. Michelle experienced two very different births – her first, in a hospital, was tense as she had to endure verbal and physical aggression from an attending OB. Her second was a peaceful, unattended home birth, with just herself and her husband (baby came so fast the midwife didn’t make it). 

Hear Michelle share how she learned some tough lessons about self advocacy – not only during her first birth, but also through her newborn’s undiagnosed tongue and lip tie. Many health care providers missed the ties, and Michelle had to figure out on her own why her baby wasn’t gaining weight. She also committed to a journey of sourcing donated breast milk, and crafting her own supplemental nursing system.

View the transcript

AmRebecca Dekker: Hi, everyone. On today’s podcast we’re going to talk with Michelle Odoerfer about her two very different birth experiences. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the Founder of Evidence Based Birth. Join me each week as we work together to get evidence based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See for more details.

Rebecca Dekker: Hi, everyone. Today, I’m so excited to welcome Michelle Odoerfer to the Evidence Based Birth podcast. Michelle is a full-time stay at home mom to two little girls aged two and five, and she also works outside the home with the goal of educating people on making their homes healthier. Michelle lives in Clinton Township, Michigan and she says that she used Evidence Based Birth resources throughout her pregnancies. And Michelle’s here to talk about her two very different birth experiences, and also how she used information at Evidence Based Birth to help inform her decision making. Welcome, Michelle, to the Evidence Based Birth podcast.

Michelle Odoerfer: Thank you, Rebecca. I’m so honored to be here. It’s such a blessing to talk about this.

Rebecca Dekker: So I believe you’ve been following the work at Evidence Based Birth for a while. Do you recall how you found our resources?

Michelle Odoerfer: Actually, yes. So my aunt is a Bradley instructor. And so I took her Bradley classes and she said, “You know what, we need to partner together with these EBB resources because there is so much information that you need to have, so you can make those informed decisions and really have the birth that you want.” So at that time, the EBB classes were not available, but oh my gosh, I was just so thankful to have all of those resources to read on the EBB website and I still get the newsletters and things now. I am not pregnant, we’re not having another baby yet. But I’m so excited to read about it because you can never have enough information.

Rebecca Dekker: So you had an aunt who was a Bradley instructor. Was she also your childbirth educator when you got pregnant with your first?

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes, she definitely was. In fact, my husband and I, because Bradley is around husband-coached childbirth, I really knew that I needed to have like another advocate in that situation with me. So we took those classes twice, kind of a refresher course with my second. So she was also an attendant at my first birth. But because our home birth with my second went so quickly, she actually missed it.

Rebecca Dekker: So you were lucky enough to have a relative who was really well-educated in childbirth issues, able to be your childbirth educator and sort of like your doula as well, a support person at your first birth?

Michelle Odoerfer: Absolutely, yes. I would definitely put her into that category for sure.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah. So tell us about that first pregnancy. What were some of the things you were learning and wanting for that birth?

Michelle Odoerfer: Oh, my gosh. Being a first time Mom, it’s so hard to figure out the right resources. Kind of like in my mind, it was what experience can I take a hold of. I wanted birth to be something that didn’t just happen to me like in a hospital setting. And there’s so many stories that you hear and I was like, man, I really just need to be able to take control of this. So some of the most important things to me were like our relaxation to prepare your body for the different feelings that you have during birth and to not like tighten your muscles so that your body can do what it’s meant to do.

Michelle Odoerfer: Things like optimal positioning of the baby, nutrition being such a huge aspect to really help avoid things like preeclampsia and help with swelling. And then also breastfeeding and breastfeeding was a huge part of my journey. Sadly, I really felt like I was let down through so many medical professionals and had a huge, huge, just journey with donor breast milk and supplemental nursing systems and tongue and lip tie education, just all of those things rolled into one. It was quite a doozy my first experience.

Rebecca Dekker: So tell us what were some of the resources that were most helpful for you then during that first pregnancy at Evidence Based Birth?

Michelle Odoerfer: Yeah. So definitely the resources about just like consent in the hospital and things that it’s okay or maybe not okay, but things that you just need to know about. Breastfeeding resources for sure. And we didn’t know the genders of our babies. So I was really looking into just different things about what to expect after the baby is born. I’m really excited that you guys have kind of explored a little bit more into like the resources and education about circumcision, because that was something that was definitely weighing on my mind had we had a boy.

Rebecca Dekker: Okay. I’m assuming reading like the articles about vitamin K then and eye ointment and those sorts of things.

Michelle Odoerfer: Absolutely. Because those things I feel like in the hospital setting, predominantly, you just do it. And things like vaccine education. So they almost make it seem like you don’t really have a choice. So you really do have to know better so that you can make those informed decisions for your family.

Rebecca Dekker: Right. So take us to that birth then. How did that first birth unfold? How did you go into labor?

Michelle Odoerfer: Well, with my first, I was 41 weeks 1 day, and I had a midwife that we were going to use in our hospital birth and my contractions started naturally around 1:00 a.m. This being my first labor, now looking back, I realized that, man, I went to the hospital way too early. I think because of that, the hospital was really kind of rushing my body to progress. But I was very adamant. I even had like a chart or a graph that I had made about like the things that I did and did not want. Like, I wanted delayed cord clamping, I didn’t want any vaginal checks. I didn’t want you to offer me any pain relief. Like, I was very specific and the things that I did and did not want. I remember sitting on the birthing ball.

Michelle Odoerfer: So I think we went to the hospital around 10:00 a.m. And sometime, a few hours later, more active labor had started. And I should mention that with those contractions starting immediately, they were two to two and a half minutes apart. So I was thinking like, man, is this going to go quick? I’m not really sure what’s happening here. So when we had gotten to the hospital, a few hours later, I was definitely in more active labor. I was having to concentrate more, I was having to make sure that I wasn’t tensing up my body and just kind of breathing through those contractions. And the OB doctor came into the room, was not happy that I did not have an IV, was not happy that she felt like my body wasn’t progressing as quickly as she wanted it to. And I remember sitting on the birthing ball and she comes up and she literally pushes me.

Michelle Odoerfer: When you’re in that state of active labor, it’s almost like a dream land. It’s like you’re concentrating so hard on allowing your body to do what it was meant to do. And I had just this huge wave of like, emotion. And basically she’s threatening me that if I do not have an IV, if I do not have the fetal monitor, that I’m not going to be allowed to labor at that hospital any longer. That was really scary for us.

Rebecca Dekker: So she was not your care provider? You had a midwife? Correct?

Michelle Odoerfer: I did. So I had a midwife and what I didn’t realize is, and I don’t know if this is how it works in all hospital settings, but the OB is kind of overseeing the midwife. So she was the OB on call, I’ve never met her before, I never saw an OB through my maternal care whatsoever. So I didn’t know who this person was. And she was very loud yelling at me. I’m fighting these contractions right now and she’s like, you will have this IV. You will have this continual fetal monitoring or you will not be allowed to labor at this hospital any longer. I’m like, what in the world is going on right now. And I remember my husband trying to like reason with this woman. I mean, I definitely did not want any of those things.

Michelle Odoerfer: In the end, we were really bullied into having intermittent fetal monitoring, external of course. However, their heart rate monitor for the baby, I’m pretty sure it was faulty because I literally had to tell our attending nurse every single time I was having a contraction. And they would hold that monitor on my belly every single time. So I was having a lot of like external things that were like kind of fighting what I was trying to do. It ended up in like 18-hour labor. It was very brutal.

Rebecca Dekker: Okay. So you had no idea that the OBs might have some problems with your birth plan. Had you gone over your birth plan with your midwife beforehand?

Michelle Odoerfer: I did. I had gone over my birth plan with my midwife. She was 100% on board. I don’t know where the miscommunication was. I feel like there was something that was just faulty with their monitors. My baby was never in distress. My oldest daughter was never in distress. There was never any indication of that on the heart rate monitor. So I don’t exactly know why this particular OB was just like so forceful with wanting her wishes to be followed out. Because the birth plan that I had made with my midwife was not anything out of the norm to them whatsoever.

Rebecca Dekker: But it seems that for some reason there was an OB on call who found out about your birth plan, got very upset, and then was making threats to kick you out of the hospital. So were you able to continue laboring without an IV?

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes, I was very adamant about that. I don’t know that caved in is like the proper word that I’m looking for, but we compromised with the OB that I would have the fetal monitor my belly so that they could monitor baby’s heart rate. That was very frustrating and annoying because every single time I had a contraction, I was so peaceful, like the nurses thought I was asleep because I was really trying to focus on relaxing my body to get this baby out. I would just hold up one finger or I would say I’m having a contraction every single time. I had a contraction for hours and hours and hours and hours. That was really hard.

Rebecca Dekker: So for our listeners who don’t understand the difference or the different types of fetal monitoring, there’s continuous electronic fetal monitoring where you constantly have the belts attached to you or the monitor attached to you. Then there’s intermittent electronic fetal monitoring where they monitor you with the machine intermittently, which sounds like what they were doing with you. They were doing at every contraction, they would hold the monitor machine up to you. Correct?

Michelle Odoerfer: That is correct. They had it around my belly the whole time. However, it wasn’t registering when I was having a contraction. So they would press it into my belly. And I would have to tell them every-

Rebecca Dekker: So you were having continuous monitoring, but it was not detecting your uterine contractions. So you had to tell them when you had one so that they could press really hard on it to pick up the baby’s heart rate.

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes, exactly.

Rebecca Dekker: And then the other option that we talked about in our Evidence Based Birth article about fetal monitoring is intermittent auscultation or hands-on listening. Where at prescribed intervals, they simply hold a little Doppler, small ultrasound to you to listen to the baby’s heart rate. So that’s not what you were getting. You were getting the actual electronic monitor. The belts were around you constantly, and then you were having to tell them every time you had a contraction.

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes, exactly.

Rebecca Dekker: Even though it sounds like you were a good candidate for the intermittent auscultation or intermittent monitoring where you wouldn’t have the belts around you.

Michelle Odoerfer: Right. And they really gave me this OB who was like overseeing the whole hospital wing there, would not give me that option. And I realize now that they’re not allowed to make you leave the hospital when you’re in labor, but I didn’t know at that point.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah. The laws in every country are different. But where we are in the US there is a federal law called EMTALA, E-M-T-A-L-A a that says a hospital cannot turn away a woman in labor. So, definitely they think that they can kick you out but they actually can’t.

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes. That was very just disheartening to see a mama who’s just … In my heart I was like, I am doing the best for my baby that I can, and I don’t understand why you guys are … This particular woman was having such a hard time with that. I think it’s because it wasn’t her way of how she’s seen birth and labor’s. But I knew that if I had started that slippery slope of intervention that I would likely end up in a C-section. And for me, that’s just something I did not want to happen. If I could avoid that, if at all possible.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah. I can see the attitude there was like, my way or the highway. Kind of. It sounds very stressful. So you told me later that in retrospect, it seemed that you had a traumatic experience because of that OB yelling at you and everything. Did you realize that at the time that you were experiencing birth trauma, or did it take years later to uncover that?

Michelle Odoerfer: It really took me a long time to even comprehend everything that had happened with that experience. It definitely was years later that I felt like, I can’t believe that woman did that to me. Because you go through all these different emotions and I just always try to stay with a positive outlook. I accomplished there what I wanted to. It wasn’t exactly how I had hoped it would be. So having this lady just as a super negative part of my story that could have been completely avoided. It just it really is very disheartening. So that’s quite sad.

Rebecca Dekker: They say that people remember the things that people say to them in labor and you don’t forget somebody yelling at you when you’re trying to have a baby. It definitely falls under the category of mistreatment in childbirth. And unfortunately, new research shows that it happens at about 26% of hospital births in the US where people experienced some kind of mistreatment.

Michelle Odoerfer: That’s like way too high.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah, it is way too high. So how did the story end? You said you had an 18-hour labor. Did everything go fine with the actual birth?

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes. I think at that point, I was kind of in this dream land of just focusing on I want this baby and just saying to myself, I can do this. It’s only one minute. God made my body like this, this is going to be fine. However, when it came to a time of pushing, I was so scared that this baby was not going to come out and that this doctor was going to make me have a C-section that I pushed my baby out so hard, I literally broke blood vessels in my eyes. Because I was fighting against my contractions. So that was like a whole other level of something I wasn’t expecting. But I was able to have her naturally unmedicated. I birthed her on my side.

Michelle Odoerfer: My husband, he was right there. And it was so important for us with both of my babies, that he was the one that announced to me what we were having. So he was so excited to say that we were having a daughter and that just made kind of all of those other things disappear for the time being. So that was really special. And then after that, of course, baby right to the chest, delayed cord clamping, baby nursing right away. But another aspect where I felt like looking back I was really failed by the medical professionals, is my daughter, my first 10 second had a severe tongue and lip tie, which went undiagnosed for at least eight weeks.

Michelle Odoerfer: So during that time, I was feeding my baby all the time, feeding on demand. She was not gaining any weight. I even told the lactation consultant in the hospital, this feels really pinchy. And she goes all you know what, honey, your nipples will toughen up, you’re going to be fine. I’m like, okay, well, that could be legit. This is my first time nursing. Like, okay. It just never got better and they never checked her for a tongue and lip tie. So, my milk supply … And thus started my journey on donor breast milk making a supplemental nursing system. Going from lactation consultant to pediatric dentists. It was just craniosacral therapy. So much.

Rebecca Dekker: When did they finally figure out that it was a tongue and lip tie that was causing her lack of ability to extract milk.

Michelle Odoerfer: So I knew something was going on with our nursing journey but I didn’t know what. I had never heard of a tongue and lip tie. Ironically, I started reaching out to different mom groups on Facebook. And I’m like, this is what’s going on. It was more than [inaudible 00:19:12]. It was more than my pinchy nipples. It was so much more than things that I had heard and read about. This one lady said, “Did you have her checked for a tongue and lip tie?” And I’m like, oh my gosh, I don’t even know what that is. Like, I have no idea. My aunt who was like such a great birth advocate and who I took the birthing classes through. She saw my daughter at eight weeks and was like Michelle, she’s really small. Immediately, I’m like, oh my gosh, someone else has noticed this. I thought she was a little petite baby. I didn’t know. I really didn’t know but I have so much guilt about that.

Michelle Odoerfer: So from there, I found my chiropractor. Actually, I took her to my chiropractor. They connected me with a pediatric dentist that revised via a cold laser, tongue and lip ties. So it was just a huge battle to even get her seen in there. It’s a whole experience of they have to watch you nurse and they have to go through their processes, they have to have the revision and your baby is screaming because they don’t want to be wrapped up. It was just the heartbreaking thing all around. And then to realize after, my milk isn’t getting better. Like, I cannot feed my baby. So I can’t even tell you, Rebecca, how many hospital lactation consultants, private lactation consultants, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle.

Michelle Odoerfer: Like, every single thing, getting the essential oils on the chest, every single thing that you could think of that’s suggested of anyone that has ever struggled with milk supply, I did. And the only thing that helped me was getting donor milk, which I would drive hours to pick up donor milk for my baby. A supplemental nursing system that I made myself with a syringe and a tube. It was basically for feeding squirrels. I bought it at the Tractor Supply Store. And I was able to connect with a medical professional who uses those like when you get blood drawn those butterfly needles, that tubing. So I cut off the needle and I connected it to the syringe and I found a medical professional who wrote me a prescription for domperidone and I was taking that. So through all of those things of collecting donor breast milk for the first two years, as my daughter got older, I was able to wean off of that donor breast milk and just have enough to nurse her for our nursing journey.

Rebecca Dekker: So that was a huge challenge for you then. Sounds like that. You described it to me earlier as it was a commitment to this journey. For those of you listening who aren’t aware of tongue and lip ties, this is something we educate people about in our Evidence Based Birth class, because it can interfere with breastfeeding, like you said, it happened to you, it affected your spine, it affected her weight gain. And it’s a condition that the tongues range of motion is restricted because there’s an unusually short, thick or tight band of tissue that’s called the frenulum that usually releases before birth, but if it doesn’t release before birth, it kind of tethers the baby’s tongue to the bottom of their mouth and they have trouble extracting milk.

Rebecca Dekker: And then there’s also lip ties where the lip from frenulum are unusually tight, which keeps the lips tethered to the gum. So that is something that people are seeing more commonly. But it’s also something that I’ve seen that a lot of hospital staff don’t seem to have education on how to diagnosis it or refer for treatment. So big, big issue and postpartum and breastfeeding and chestfeeding.

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes. I even remember talking to the lactation consultants because she did follow up with me through the hospital. And she said, we’re not educated on that. They do not teach us that. When there was the movement from breastfeeding to formula feeding, that is when that education stopped. And it’s so heartbreaking because I know it was through advocating for me and my daughter and my determination, those were the only things that education about why I wanted my daughter on breast milk. But there are so many moms that they just don’t have that education and it’s heartbreaking because they feel like they failed when they don’t nurse. And there’s so many other things that are factors in that. So it really is heartbreaking.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah., I like to think of it more as the system failing you. I don’t think women fail. I don’t think women fail or parents fail. Birthing and breastfeeding or chestfeeding but very common to see the system failing you.

Michelle Odoerfer: Absolutely. Yes.

Rebecca Dekker: So when did you get pregnant again then? Were you still nursing or had you finished nursing?

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes, I was still nursing. And I was able to nurse my doctor up until about 18, 19 weeks. My daughter was two and a half is when she kind of stopped nursing at that point. So I was really thankful to be able to nurse her even while I was growing another little baby inside. So that was really great. We had a really special bond through all of our nursing challenges, I feel like.

Rebecca Dekker: And you were able to nurse her as a toddler, which can be really special. So that’s pretty awesome.

Michelle Odoerfer: Thank you so much. Yes, it really was a huge blessing. I really feel thankful that I committed to nursing her for two years, and I’m so thankful that we were able to even go beyond that.

Rebecca Dekker: So what plans did you make then for your second baby’s birth?

Michelle Odoerfer: Well, for my second baby, I had so much more of a perspective that I didn’t need the hospital, in my own opinion. I’m so thankful to have the option to transfer to a hospital if needed. But for me, and the journey of my first and having my husband there and our support system, I felt like I really didn’t need that, and it was so much more hindering than it was helpful. It was a volatile, kind of aggressive experience at times. So with our second daughter, we started looking into home birth, and we ended up having a home birth with her. It was actually a planned home birth, but it ended up being an unassisted home birth because of how quickly my labor progressed with her.

Rebecca Dekker: So you hired a local home birth midwife to attend you, and you’re feeling pretty good about that decision. Tell us how labor started.

Michelle Odoerfer: Ironically, my labor started the same way that it did with my first. My contractions started right around 1:00 a.m. And with my second daughter, I was 41 weeks, 6 days. So I was definitely ready. I had no pressure from my midwife about induction or membrane stripping or anything like that. So in my mind, I was thinking, okay, I’m going to be here for another 18 hours. This is fine. We’re going to do fine. So I had gotten my husband up, my oldest was right around three years old at this point sleeping in her bed. And our plan was to have a family member come in watch her if need be. So I didn’t really call anyone. I stayed up for several contractions.

Michelle Odoerfer: I woke my husband up and I said, “Hey, I’m in labor right now. Things are fine. Why don’t you go ahead and go back to sleep for a while. I think we’re going to be here for a while. It’s not a big deal.” I’m like, “Okay. How about you call our midwife, our midwife, Goldie, let her know what’s going on.” And he did. I went downstairs, I labored on the couch for a while. With both of my labors, I really just wanted it very quiet and dark, just very peaceful. So I was downstairs for a while, he would come in and check on me. I was very, very nervous about having her come too early. And I really feel like that was some of my post-traumatic stress from going to the hospital too early. So we kept her apprised of what was going on and I wanted a water birth. However, we did not fill up our tub. We were going to do that like kind of as the beginning of labor.

Michelle Odoerfer: So my labor with my second daughter was very short. And I pretty much labored on my own with the exception of my husband checking in. I remember distinctly there was one time that I was sitting on the couch with him, and it was probably about two hours into labor. He’s like, “I really think we need to call Goldie.” And I’m like, “No. I’m good right now. I think I’m good.” And I was having a contraction. He’s starting to tell me things and I’m like shh. You have to stop talking. We have this labor chart that talks about the different stages of labor and he’s like, “No. We’re going to need to call Goldie soon.” But anyhow, long story short, I had gone upstairs. I really needed to use the bathroom. And every time I tried to sit down on the toilet, my body was like, nope, stand up, stand up, stand up.

Michelle Odoerfer: So I was kind of just hovering over, just resting my arms on our vanity and I said to him, “Oh, my gosh, I need to push.” And he’s like, “What?” And I said, “I need to push. Go fill up the birth tub.” This is like my mind in labor. You need to fill up the birth tub right now. And I’m like yelling to him downstairs, “Fill up the birth tub, I need to push. We’re going to have this baby.” She was born with Andrew, with my husband. He just quick thinking laid down a yoga. We were hands and knees in the living room. And my daughter was born in like five pushes. So a few minutes before she was born, he called the midwife and she’s like, “I had already left, I’m on my way. But I want you to know you need to keep the baby warm. I’m going to be there in 15 minutes.” She was born in just a handful of pushes.

Michelle Odoerfer: So we had this kind of beautiful moment together of about 10 or so minutes of just the three of us. My daughter was still asleep upstairs, my oldest one, and our midwife assistant and then our midwife came in just about 10 minutes later. So that was a really such a peaceful and serene and such a special experience. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, I’m never been at a hospital birth ever again. Like, there’s literally no comparison for me. It was such a wonderful experience.

Rebecca Dekker: So you went into labor at 1:00 a.m. and what time was your daughter born?

Michelle Odoerfer: My daughter was born … So I went into labor about 1:00 a.m. [inaudible 00:30:42] was born at 5:40 a.m.? Yes. So my husband, the superhero, was kind of keeping tabs on me even though he was very adamant about not wanting Goldie there because I didn’t want her to just be like waiting around in my mind, which is how I felt almost the hospital staff was just kind of like waiting around. So he was keeping her apprised through my different stages of labor. But honestly, it just had progressed so quickly because I was so comfortable and so relaxed.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah. And heads up for all the second time moms out there, just because you had a long first labor doesn’t mean the second one will be long. So I hear this all the time where people misread the signals and they think they have more time because they had so much time the first time around, but second labors can be very different.

Michelle Odoerfer: It was so different, and my midwife actually had joked with me, she’s like, “I do not trust second time moms.” So as soon as you go into labor, please make sure that Andrew calls me. And he did and we kept apprised. He was keeping her prize kind of as I was focusing on laboring. But despite that, it still went very quickly.

Rebecca Dekker: So do you have any advice for people listening who are planning on entering birth or parenthood soon?

Michelle Odoerfer: I feel like the biggest things that we can do as mothers, whether it’s your first time, you really have to focus on the education. Because as I mentioned before, I did not want my birth experience to be something that happened to me. There’s so many times that you just hear, and then they broke my water, and then I had an episiotomy. And then I was being rushed here or there. I knew that for myself, I wanted to be in control of my labor, and I didn’t want it to be something that happened to me. So I’m just so thankful, Rebecca, for what you and your team do on education. I’m so thankful for my Bradley class who helped me with the exercises and the nutrition and the positioning of the baby and all of those things. Because we really have so many choices and information available. I think we just need to know where to look as moms.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah, thank you for that advice. Education is really important. I think sometimes people think … They get this false impression that they have to learn it all. And you don’t necessarily have to learn it all and I think that’s kind of impossible. But it is good to continually educate yourself and know where to look if something comes up and you don’t know the answer. And be resourceful. Just thinking back to your first baby and with the difficulties you had with nursing and how if you hadn’t asked your friends, your community, that just speaks to the power of community. When we have healthcare systems that are not working perfectly, sometimes we do have to reach out to our network and be like, can anybody help? And not being afraid to ask for help.

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes. I totally agree with that, Rebecca. I mean, if it weren’t for that one person that I met at a mom’s group, I didn’t need to know her. I’d never met her before. I just thought this person literally changed my life with my daughter and with our nursing journey. I don’t know where I would be without her suggesting that. It’s something that was so foreign to me.

Rebecca Dekker: So, Michelle, is there anything I can help you with? Do you have any questions for me?

Michelle Odoerfer: Rebecca, I feel like with both of my daughters having those tongue and lip ties, I just wondered maybe if you have any additional information about … I struggled with milk supply with both of my babies and I don’t know if my body like imprinted that first experience of not being able to nurse my daughter with the full supply because of the milk not transferring. I just feel like, that’s the thing that kind of hangs me up with wanting another baby. I’m thinking like, I just … Is there any way to increase your milk supply before your baby even comes? The thing-

Rebecca Dekker: Did your second baby have some amount of tongue or lip tie as well?

Michelle Odoerfer: My second baby did. She did. She had a lip tie. There were some professionals that felt like she had a tongue tie, some that didn’t. The dentist would not revise her because in her opinion, she did not have a tongue tie because she had that range of motion. That was a whole other experience with that. I feel like I have this like anxiety about, I know what to expect if this happens again, but is it a hard journey? And if there’s any way to make it a little easier with the milk supply, what would your suggestions be for moms that might struggle with that?

Rebecca Dekker: Well, I think anybody planning on having a baby, if they’re planning on nursing their baby should have support lined up ahead of time. There’s a variety of resources. There’s La Leche League, there’s WIC, there’s local lactation consultants. Your health care system may have a lactation clinic. But the important thing is to find out who can make a visit to your home in the first couple days after you go home from the hospital, if you have a hospital birth, to check on your baby’s latch to look for issues and to get help before you get desperate. So a lot of people wait to get help with nursing till they’re desperate or things are going really bad. It’s really hard to approach any problem when you’re feeling emotionally raw.

Rebecca Dekker: So getting help early is important. And knowing that there is a family history link or genetic link, research has found that siblings are more likely to have lip and tongue tie. I think you can anticipate if it happens again, what’s my plan going to be? Who’s going to be my lactation helper? Is there a lactation consultant, or a home birth midwife, or somebody who’s an expert in this who can come to your home. I think it’s really important that our society go help new mothers by literally going to their homes. Because it is so hard to get out of the house with a new baby. And when you’re recovering from childbirth. I know in my community, we have a very vibrant group of actually home birth midwives, CNMs and CPMs, who have all gone on, they’ve all been La Leche League leaders.

Rebecca Dekker: Some of them are lactation experts as well. But a lot of them have gone to trainings for lip and tongue tie and gotten continuing education in that field. And can even do the revisions at your home without you having to leave your home if it does need to be revised. I think finding out what those resources are in your community, so that you have a number to call when you need help would be important. But it does seem that … I’ll link to the show notes of several articles about there’s been a recent dramatic rise in tongue tie and lip tie diagnosis and treatment. I don’t think That there’s necessarily anything different about our babies. Researchers think that there’s just an increase in awareness because there’s women attempt to breastfeed, they’re discovering more cases. Like you said, you often might not even realize this is a problem if you were bottle feeding.

Rebecca Dekker: But with tongue tie, the tongue can’t compress the breasts in a way to transfer the milk efficiently. And so you can have problems with painful nipples, damaged nipples, you can have low milk supply, you can have where the baby’s not transferring enough milk so they’re not gaining weight, they could fail to thrive. So this can be a huge issue and it can happen to as many as 14% of babies. So this is not like extremely rare. We’re talking about more than 1 in 10 babies has this issue. So definitely being aware that it could be an issue and I think it should just be part of standard care in the hospital. They look at your baby’s mouth before they go home. But like you said, I think a lot of times they don’t even look for the lips and tongue tie. So you don’t even know if it’s there. So having somebody who can visit you who can make sure everything is well and healthy with nursing can be extremely helpful.

Michelle Odoerfer: I really love that Rebecca. And you know with my second I was thinking, what am I going to do if she has a tongue and lip tie? Again, like my first. And it didn’t, as silly as it sounds, it didn’t even occur to me to find someone that would come to my house. I think we’re kind of conditioned that we go to the doctor or we go to these professionals. But as you mentioned, when you just had a baby and you’re trying to refigure out how to nurse and refigure out how to pack your diaper bag and get your other kids in the car, and you just really … You know that your body just needs to be resting. It’s a lot of emotional stuff going on there. So thank you so much for just something so small that I feel like it’s going to make a really big difference.

Rebecca Dekker: Yeah. I mean, home business is like a normal part of maternity care in other countries. And in the US, it’s like, we don’t even realize that we should be doing it. I think the postpartum period is just really critical that we provide more support to new families. And we’re really doing a disservice by not having home visits being like a routine part of postpartum care.

Michelle Odoerfer: Yes. I totally agree with that. Absolutely.

Rebecca Dekker: All right. Michelle, will thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate you sharing your story. And I know we have a lot of parents out there who have used Evidence Based Birth resources during their pregnancies, maybe not even necessarily taking the child birth class, but reading the articles, listening to the podcast. And if any of you want to come on and share your story, feel free to email and we have a form you can fill out if you’re at all interested in being Michelle coming on and sharing your pregnancy and birth stories. So thank you so much for Michelle for joining us.

Michelle Odoerfer: Thank you, Rebecca. I really appreciate you.

Rebecca Dekker: Today’s podcast was brought to you by the Comfort Measures for Labor and Delivery Nurses Workshop. Last year at Evidence Based Birth we hosted focus groups and talk with nurses from across the US who told us that they wish they had a way to learn or refresh their comfort measures skills to use with birthing clients. So we created the Comfort Measures for Labor and Delivery Nurses Workshop. This is a three-hour in person workshop with nursing contact hours. If you’re a nurse, midwife or doula who wants hands on practice with massage, acupressure, upright birthing positions, and more, visit to find a workshop near you.


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