Can you breastfeed a baby with tongue tie?

At the clinic we were told that she had an anterior tongue tie. We had been positive it was posterior given that it went unnoticed for so long, but the severity of it was another example of how let down we had been by the health professionals. She could poke her tongue out, yes, but she could neither move her tongue side to side nor up and down. Her movement was that limited.

This is something I’ve balled my eyes out over. Not once, but what feels like a million times.
I never knew what a tongue tie was, until I had Olivia. Even then, it wasn’t a case of her not being able to feed from me and it being diagnosed straight away. Oh no, no, no… She was exclusively breastfed for the first 11 weeks of her life (I hate that it wasn’t even 3 months) and at that time everything changed.
You see, a tongue tied baby can breastfeed, and the longer they can manage it, the more they are exercising and stretching their frenulum – the little bit of skin holding the tongue to the base of the mouth. BUT it will get to a point where the movement is too limited to continue to be able to latch. What makes it more difficult is that the exercise and stretching, in my case, confused the health visitors and breastfeeding gurus/lactation consultants because Olivia could poke her tongue out… something which tongue tied babies aren’t supposed to be able to do.
At 11 weeks old, Olivia’s weight had already dropped twice the 2 weeks before, and there I was at the weigh in, confident that she had been fed much more regularly and must have put on weight this time. That all came crashing down in a split second. In the space of 3 weeks she had plummeted from being on the 75th percentile to the 0.9th. The health visitor looked at me. If you’ve experienced this you know that look. It was saying, “What have you been doing to your baby?” I broke down. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t hold my baby. The guilt consumed me. I only wanted what was best for her. Why was MY milk not good enough to keep her growing?
And then she said it.
“Your baby needs formula.”
It all happened again. I couldn’t breathe. I nodded silently, sobbing uncontrollably.

If you’re a formula feeding mama by choice, maybe you won’t understand this… But my choice was to breastfeed her exclusively. I was against formula completely, I didn’t want to put her on it, I wanted her to have my breastmilk that my body had made specifically for her. I was proud of breastfeeding and there was never a doubt in my mind that I would breastfeed her for as long as I could. Until I couldn’t. The choice was taken away from me.

My daughter was starving.
Starving.
That’s the first time I’ve admitted it, you know. Before now my partner and mother in law have said it. I know that it happened but I couldn’t admit it. It added to my guilt. If she was losing weight why didn’t I put her on formula sooner? But the truth is I was blamed for the problem. It was thought to be because of her having a dummy, or because I had a routine with her and wasn’t feeding her on demand (even though I was).
Jamie (my other half) and his mum pleaded with me to give her a bottle for my own sanity too. I remember in particular she said I couldn’t have Olivia hanging off me 24/7. But they didn’t get it. I did everything to keep breastfeeding.
When she finally got diagnosed with a tongue tie, we were referred to a specialist clinic in London to have it snipped. She was 14 weeks and 2 days old. The oldest baby in the clinic. I had to lie about how much breastmilk she was having because for the NHS to snip the tongue tie the baby had to be almost exclusively breastfed. I hired a double breast pump and my GP put me on domperidone, an antisickness tablet with a side effect of lactation. But even that wasn’t enough to get my supply back up. For 6 weeks at that stage Olivia had either been not getting enough milk herself or had been having formula, and once the demand isn’t there, the supply isn’t either.
At the clinic we were told that she had an anterior tongue tie. We had been positive it was posterior given that it went unnoticed for so long, but the severity of it was another example of how let down we had been by the health professionals. She could poke her tongue out, yes, but she could neither move her tongue side to side nor up and down. Her movement was that limited.
At the clinic they told us we needed to massage the wound daily to stop it repairing, and that the babies weren’t to use any artificial teats. We should finger feed them instead with a nasal tube in their mouths like a straw. That was nonsense. Maybe it would have worked on a newborn baby for a mum whose supply hadn’t deteriorated like mine, but again I had to choose formula. I carried on breastfeeding and the first feed after the operation was amazing. I could tell the difference in her latch. I could see how hungry she was. And I took comfort in the fact that I had this perfect feed and that my milk was healing her wound.

Don’t get me wrong the operation itself was horrendous, but at least she could feed now. I wanted to go back to exclusive breastfeeding, but once your supply has virtually gone it is so hard to get it back. So she stayed on formula, and on the minute amount of breastmilk that I was able to give her.
One night she just stopped. She didn’t want it anymore. I don’t know how it happened, but it felt final and it was the last time she ever latched onto me for comfort in the night.
That was 5 months ago.
At 9 months old we ended our breastfeeding journey. And believe me there were A LOT of trials and tribulations along the way, but her tongue tie was the worst one of them. It broke me again and again. I felt guilty for such a long time, but I did everything I could and I’ve accepted now that formula and breastmilk made my baby girl grow from this….
To this…
I loved breastfeeding. I could never understand why you wouldn’t try, but sometimes you will end up formula feeding anyway. It still upsets me, but I know I can’t carry that guilt anymore.
That’s my breastfeeding story.

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My breastfeeding story

During my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option I wanted for my baby, well for the first few months at least. My mum had bought me a steriliser, bottles, the teats, the bottle brush and although I was ever so grateful, in the back of my mind I thought “I want to breastfeed, so these won’t be useful… or at least not for a while.”

I wish I could say that breastfeeding worked for me but I can’t.
During my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option I wanted for my baby, well for the first few months at least. My mum had bought me a steriliser, bottles, the teats, the bottle brush and although I was ever so grateful, in the back of my mind I thought “I want to breastfeed, so these won’t be useful… or at least not for a while.”

I watched the breastfeeding DVD to prepare myself and I attended a parent event where I spoke to two very lovely ladies who demonstrated with a woollen boob just how the baby would latch on. I found some different outfits to wear for breastfeeding and I even spoke to people to find out where I could breastfeed in town. I prepared myself for the odd person I was undoubtedly going to meet who would have a problem with my feeding  in public. How did other people deal with it? I read articles to find out. I knew it might be a bit difficult at first, but this was what I wanted and I was going to keep trying until it worked. I wanted to provide the milk for my baby and everyone I spoke to at that time had told me it was the best option for my baby.

My contractions started at a parent evening class on the Tuesday. I was too embarrassed to say anything because the lady running the group had joked that she’d “never had anyone go into labour at her pre-natal classes before”, and I was the silly sod who left it a week before my due date to attend the first class! I also attended the class on my own because for some reason, despite the fact it was called a ‘parent event’, it didn’t click in my head that my partner could come. I am going to blame the baby brain for that! I gave birth to my daughter on the Friday.
After giving birth to my daughter, despite feeling exhausted, (as I’m sure is the norm in that situation!), I had a new wave of energy and adrenaline.

This was it, I was going to do it. I was going to provide the food for my daughter.

The rest of that day we had a bit of trouble, but my daughter seemed to be latching on for short times. We were both just learning!

That first night though I must have had my finger permanently on the buzzer for the poor nurses. “I can’t do it.” It just didn’t seem to be working. The nurse would try to help me with the latch on each time. “You’ll get the hang of it.” “You’re tired.” In the end we were all getting a bit frustrated and the nurse thought she would try a premade bottle.

‘Hmmmm ok’, I thought, ‘just this once, just while I get the hang of it, but I don’t want her to get too used to the bottle.’I kept trying that day and as far as I was aware we were getting there.

That afternoon we were able to go home and me and my partner were full of excitement and adrenaline… we were mentally ready for this…
… but our daughter cried and cried and cried and cried.My partner sang to her, rocked her, we fed her, we played music, we even played womb sounds from YouTube.

Nothing was working.
By the early hours of the morning our confidence had been crushed in one foul swoop. The experience from that one night was enough to dampen our spirits for the next few months. We felt like absolute failures and we did the only last thing we could think to do at 2am in the morning and it was to phone for the cavalry. My partner’s mum came over, (I’m sure she was absolutely thrilled at that time of the day), and we were grateful that we weren’t alone because we thought clearly we can’t do this.
“She’s hungry,” she said.She can’t be, I thought. I’ve been feeding her constantly!

“We’re setting up the steriliser.” My partner and his mum proceeded to feed my daughter and I sat in the bedroom and sobbed, for what felt like hours. This isn’t what I wanted!

I’m pretty sure that what I was feeling that night was heart ache.
My partner then confirmed to me that she was feeding quite happily from the bottle. She was feeding from the bottle… but she couldn’t feed from me. This was obviously my fault. All I could think was that I was unable to do something that should have been the most natural thing in the world.
During those early weeks I was expressing milk slowly. I tried the nipple covers too but it just wasn’t happening. I had to accept it in the end that she would be bottle fed.
When my daughter was only a few weeks old we ventured out to some baby groups together. There were mums of course at the groups and they were breastfeeding. I felt embarrassed. I’d get the bottle out for my daughter and hide away somewhere to feed her. If someone saw me I felt I had to explain why I hadn’t been able to breastfeed… “My milk was slow in coming through.”
Looking back I think why on earth did I feel so embarrassed? It wasn’t a sign that I wasn’t looking after my child properly!
Over the next few weeks it came to light that as well as my milk being very slow, my daughter has a tongue tie which had been making it difficult for her to latch on.It wasn’t MY fault at all! It was no one’s fault.

In those early days you are just trying to do what is best for your baby. It’s all new and it’s all daunting, because you have this little person relying on you to understand what they need when they are crying and it can all feel a bit like trial and error.
I have the utmost respect for mums who breastfeed and I have the utmost respect for those who bottle feed. We are each going through our own parenting journey. We are the specialists in our own children’s needs.
Please go easy on yourself. You are doing the best you can and that’s all you can do.

Breastfeeding Blues

Initially I tried for almost 48 hours straight to breastfeed and had to beg a midwife for formula as my baby was screaming as she was so hungry. I continued to try for weeks and weeks. Pumping didn’t work and neither did feeding. I never got a ‘let down’, I don’t know what if feels like to have one.

Looking at my happy, healthy, strong and beautiful little girl, it’s hard to remember why I worried so much. My daughter is 18 months old, she’s 95th centile for height and 91st centile for weight. We couldn’t have a more incredible bond. I’ve struggled with Postnatal Depression- but I’ve always adored her and I know that she loves me too.
It’s breastfeeding week this week, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t shed a few tears when reminded of the fact that I couldn’t breast feed my baby.
I was scrolling back through photos when a found this picture of Florence latching. I didn’t realise it had been taken, but seeing it soothes me and reminds me of how I tried my best. After a major artery was ruptured after a tear during labour I had a massive haemorrhage and lost around 66% of my total blood volume. I had to have a triple blood transfusion and a plasma transfusion but despite this, I was left very anaemic.
I was later diagnosed with sepsis due to complications of being strep b positive. When I wasn’t fighting for my life I was trying to feed my baby. My milk never really came in and due to my mother having to bottle feed my baby whilst I was in intensive care, my already almost non existent supply couldn’t match that of a whole formula feed.
Initially I tried for almost 48 hours straight to breastfeed and had to beg a midwife for formula as my baby was screaming as she was so hungry. I continued to try for weeks and weeks. Pumping didn’t work and neither did feeding. I never got a ‘let down’, I don’t know what if feels like to have one.
We started our journey trying so desperately to breastfeed, but this journey was cut painfully short due to circumstances out of my control. My heart still breaks about this, because after a difficult labour and pregnancy, it would have been lovely for something to work out!
A family friend who is a lactation expert came to see me a few months ago, we talked through it all and she tried to reassure me that I have no reason to feel so awful, I really did try my hardest and she truly believes that it would have been almost impossible for me to breast feed, given the circumstances such as fighting for my life, the medications I was on and other factors such as having an underactive thyroid and PCOS.
Some people don’t want to breastfeed and that is fine. Babies who are bottle fed still thrive… But I wanted this so much for my baby and it still hurts that I couldn’t even provide her with something as simple as my own milk.  Yes she is incredible and she is thriving, but every time I see someone else feeding their baby, I feel like a failure. I can’t help it, but that’s how I felt then and often how I often feel now. One day it might stop hurting, but for now it is still a very sore subject. My body physically couldn’t feed my baby. My body failed me and my baby. Without formula, my baby would have starved.
I’m sure that the colostrum and the action of poaching my daughter on my breast helped to lay the perfect foundation for our incredible bond, but formula, and my love, influenced our incredible girl to blossom so beautifully.
Don’t buy into the “Only 1% of women cannot breastfeed” … it is a load of crap. Think of the Mummies on medications, the Mummies who are mentally or physically unwell, or fighting for their lives through illness or after a traumatic labour. The babies born prematurely or with a tongue ties. This supposed statistic leaves far too many parents feeling inadequate or like failures and it isn’t okay!
Shout out to all mummies in the same boat who have ever felt inadequate because of feeding problems and complications. I completely feel your pain, this week and always.

Debunking Breastfeeding Myths

I was left wondering so many things about breastfeeding after birth and I usually turned to Facebook groups or Google to help my through them. No matter how prepared we are to breastfeed, there will always be things we aren’t prepared for.

This week is world breastfeeding week!

As a mother who breastfed her child for the best part of a year, I know that breastfeeding can be hard enough without all the issues that come with it, such as mastitis, teething etc. I was left wondering so many things about breastfeeding after birth and I usually turned to Facebook groups or Google to help my through them. No matter how prepared we are to breastfeed, there will always be things we aren’t prepared for. So here are things I wish I knew during my breastfeeding journey.

Patience
Your baby only has a tiny tummy when they are born, so your colostrum will be enough! Your milk can take up to five days to come in, so don’t think because you are hardly leaking or cannot feel any milk in your boobs, that your baby isn’t getting enough!
Pumping means nothing!
If you’re only getting half an ounce of milk out when pumping, don’t think that your baby is only getting half an ounce. A baby’s sucking is SO much more effective than pumping! If your baby is content, don’t worry!
Leaking!
You may think because you are wearing the most expensive breast pad, you won’t leak through it. Oh how wrong you are. I will always remember being in a cafe, breastfeeding my daughter and leaking through 2 breast pads and a muslin cloth and soaking my top! So be sure to keep spare tops and nursing bras handy!
Your boobs will hurt a lot!
At the start, your boobs will hurt. They are getting used to a tiny human draining them but the pain does go. If the pain is unbearable/ more uncomfortable than usual, it may be worth mentioning to your GP or a Lactation Consultant.
Snacks!
You will get hungry when feeding! So try and keep snacks and a bottle of water in your feeding area. Thus is also handy for when baby is cluster feeding and not letting you move for food!
Crying over spilt milk!
Ignore the saying ‘There’s no point crying over spilt milk’, because there is. Imagine finishing up with pumping, turning to grab something and then knocking over the whole bottle of milk. Whether it is 1 Oz or 8ozs, it will always be super devastating.
Breast is best
No, no it’s not. I have friends who tried everything and anything to get their baby to feed and with no success, they turned to formula. Whether the reason be a tongue tie, traumatic birth etc., what truly matters is that baby is fed. If you are unsuccessful with breastfeeding, do not put yourself down. You are still an amazing mummy, no matter how baby is fed.

The New Baby Bubble

I remember coming home from the hospital and seeing my family’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their granddaughter and niece. I remember thinking that nothing could ever ruin this perfect little moment.

The ‘New Baby Bubble’ is amazing… You feel like you’ve been blessed with such a supportive family, a content baby and the perfect daddy to your bundle of joy. I remember coming home from the hospital and seeing my family’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their granddaughter and niece. I remember thinking that nothing could ever ruin this perfect little moment. Then my daughter did, and I’m not lying to you, she did the biggest poo I’ve ever experienced. But it was okay, because Daddy was there. Grabbing a nappy, a new change of clothes and telling me to sit down and take it easy. It was fantastic. I lived at my parent’s house at the time, so even they would take over and help with ‘Wiggles’.

Life in this bubble was perfect and I never wanted to leave it.

I would spend hours just staring at my perfect, content, sleeping daughter just thinking about how this wasn’t bad at all. What were other parents going on about? But that changed so bloody quickly!
Because I’d had a C-section, everyone was very wary of me doing anything. If I got up for anything, I would have everyone screaming at me to sit down and that they’ll get it. Now, for those of you who have never had a child… this gets very annoying very quickly. I was allowed to do two things without getting into trouble. Breastfeed and pee. Which is basically all my daughter would let me do anyway!

Towards the end of week two, the ‘bubble’ was starting to go. The excitement of a new baby had worn off for my family and friends, Daddy was due to go back to work in a couple of days and I had only just realised that I had no idea what the hell I was doing. And then it happened. The ‘bubble’ burst and left me with a very different situation. Daddy was back at work, I was allowed to do things again and everything was down to me.

Shit.

As new mothers, this is where the stress kicks in. We find ourselves frantically searching through MumsNet at 1am to check every little thing. But why are we so afraid of leaving the ‘bubble’ and entering the real world of motherhood?

Midwives and health visitors tell you everything you need to know about being pregnant, how to breastfeed etc. You’ve probably researched what to expect when you’re expecting, watched multiple episodes of One Born Every Minute. Heck, you probably had an app that told you which vegetable your baby was the same size as each week (thankyou BabyCentre). But what you didn’t find out was what happens next. After the excitement has died down, when your midwife signs you off and you’re expected to just know what to do.

And the truth is, nobody knows what they’re doing. They are simply winging it. No two babies are the same, so although other mums may have ‘advice’ on how to calm your baby or how to get them to latch properly, at the end of the day it’s all about doing what works for you. Creating your own routine so that you can create a new ‘bubble’ for you and your little family to live happily every after in… until the next obstacle at least.

Feel the burn, mummy

So, new mums, experienced mums, first timers and those who are so used to it…What are the best ways to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness?The answer: NOBODY KNOWS!

So, new mums, experienced mums, first timers and those who are so used to it…
What are the best ways to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness?
The answer: NOBODY KNOWS! But there are some targeted mum and baby sessions which I found particularly helpful. At only a couple of months post-partum, myself and the other mums from our NCT group signed up to a lovely lady’s Zen Fitness (Yoga) class local to us in Hythe, Kent.
As someone who has always loved yoga, this was amazing for me, and when I turned up I did not expect it to be quite so hard! I definitely felt the burn…
Using the baby’s weight as your weight, the class gets tougher as the weeks go by, and especially if you’ve missed a week, the next one is so much harder! I remember thinking that “oh, she’s only put on a couple of pounds since last time, it won’t make that much difference”… Well, yes. Yes it did.
The best part about Suzanna’s group was that she was so understanding about needing to take a break to feed baby, or even to stop baby rolling onto other babies… I felt really welcome at her groups, and she was fantastic at making sure everyone could handle the workouts if you were a beginner or had been a regular!
So, that’s one way of really feeling that exercise, releasing endorphins and starting to recover the wellbeing of your body and mind.
Another way is with buggyfit (or similar) groups, using pushchairs to do more cardio exercises, usually outdoors.
These groups are also fabulous. Unfortunately I was only able to try this once, as I had an incredibly busy schedule in the year after my daughter was born, but it was brilliant. With these, you’re not using baby as a weight, but more as a balance when squatting or a resistance when running.

One exercise that I found to be particularly cheeky was the reps of calf dips. With the beautiful beach backdrop, we stood on tiptoes at the edge of the pavement onto the stones and gently dipped up and down. It didn’t feel much then, but the next morning my calves were on fire!
One added bonus is that you can set these groups up yourself for free if you have a bunch of mummies wanting to go with you, or they may already be set up local to you, so check on Facebook if you’re interested!
Finally – and this one is not limited to mums/dads/parents/guardians – I just have to say how FANTASTIC the park run is! Seriously, go online (but open up a new tab and keep this one up and keep reading!) and Google where your nearest park run is <– or just use that cheeky little hyperlink I’ve stuck in there.My other half, being in the army, has been doing running for years and he is a seasoned pro, so although he leaves me far behind when I’m running with the pushchair, it’s a great, fun activity to do with the whole family. We even took my stepdaughter a couple of weeks ago and she loved it! You can race each other to make it fun, or take it at a leisurely pace, which I’ll be honest is what I have to do as it is a 5k course!

So mummies, those are my experiences of post birth fitness groups, and I hope to be sharing more in the coming weeks!
If there’s anything you want to try but want a review of first, contact us and I will be more than happy to see if I can trial one in my area!

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MMLinky
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

No Second Thoughts

Concentration is a thing of the past. Long gone are the days I could recall information. I’m pretty sure that when people have conversations with me that my eyes are glazed over and I just smile and nod in agreement.

What are our plans for tomorrow?
What food do I need to prepare for tomorrow?
What clothes are ready for tomorrow?
Am I prepared for potential night feeds?
And breathe… I can sit down to relax.
Oh! I forgot I need to eat!!
Sound familiar? The life of a mum, (or dad).
I don’t know about you but I just cannot think straight. My head is like cotton wool all of the time. People did warn me about baby brain but I think I underestimated it. I’m not even sure there is much of a brain in there… it’s most definitely shrivelled a bit. Concentration is a thing of the past. Long gone are the days I could recall information. I’m pretty sure that when people have conversations with me that my eyes are glazed over and I just smile and nod in agreement. At work I ask questions constantly because I can’t remember what the new systems are. I don’t know how long I can get away with “Oh it’s just that I’ve been on maternity leave and I’m trying to get settled back in.”

The thing is I really want to be able to sit and chat about things the way I did but all I can think about is my daughter. I have a one track mind now. I worry that I seem uninterested in other people and that I’m not a good listener anymore. It’s not that I don’t want to know what other people are up to, or that I don’t care, it’s more that I can’t stop thinking about my day ahead, my daughter’s day ahead. I’ll admit I’m not the most organised of people and this is probably why I am trying to plan things constantly because I’ve only made myself stressed out when I’ve not thought things through very well in the past. It’s as though the part of my brain that is still functioning is trying so hard to get on top of things that there’s no room in my head to think about anything or anyone else. When I try to enter into a discussion I end up talking about myself and my family because that’s all I know about at the moment. I feel that I’ve become selfish. I’m so eager to have adult conversations with people but I have no idea what to talk about. Love Island anyone? I watched about 3 episodes but I know people at work loved it so it’s a possible topic… maybe? How about The Twirlywoos, now that’s a TV show I can talk to you about. I know you know all the theme songs too!

I don’t know about you but I worry about how people may be perceiving me right now. I am still Charlie though. I may not currently have the interest in, or more importantly the time to do the things I once did and I may have disappeared into the background a bit but I will find myself again! When you talk to me I hope you still find me interesting, just bear with me, I’m just getting used to my new role; I’m finding my feet. I’m juggling. I don’t have the hobbies and interests that I once had that maybe made me a bit more interesting to talk to. My conversations are about my daughter, this is my new life. My role at the moment is “Mumma.” I am the entertainer, the cleaner, the chef, the comforter, the launderer, the driver… Is it any surprise that I can’t concentrate? That I’m constantly tired? All those parents out there balancing their different roles with ease, or at least showing it, I’m envious!

I’m still learning, perhaps it gets easier. Time will tell, but for now I’m planning for tomorrow… oh and cooking my dinner!
This blog is my journey to find my new self. I hope it can help you too if you feel a bit lost. Maybe we can explore some new adventures together.

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