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.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…


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.

Bottle Feeding Through World Breastfeeding Week

I am absolutely pro breastfeeding (it’s giving your child food that is designed for them, why would anyone be against it?) but somewhere along the line that has become, to some, synonymous with anti-bottle/formula and that is really not the case.  I don’t want there to be ANY parents out there feeling bad for providing their child with nutritionally appropriate food. 

World Breastfeeding Week makes me kind of emotional because I am constantly reminded of what I fought so hard for and ultimately couldn’t manage. I can’t let this whole week pass me by without saying something because I know it isn’t just me… 
If you are a bottle feeding parent then World Breastfeeding Week can put a bit of strain on you. I know this because I was one and this same week last year was much tougher for me. So, I’m writing this for bottle feeding parents to know they are not alone and it’s okay to feel a bit ‘mehhh’ this week. I am also writing this so that all of you amazing booby mummas  know that us bottle mummas want to offer you support on your journey but can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by it all.
I am absolutely pro breastfeeding (it’s giving your child food that is designed for them, why would anyone be against it?) but somewhere along the line that has become, to some, synonymous with anti-bottle/formula and that is really not the case.  I don’t want there to be ANY parents out there feeling bad for providing their child with nutritionally appropriate food. 
I desperately wanted to breastfeed my son and I was blessed to be able to do that for a short while but ultimately I made the decision for his health and for my own mental health –  he was better off on formula and I have to keep reminding myself a lot that I couldn’t actually have tried any harder than I did. So, without meaning to, I sometimes find myself feeling a bit bitter over the course of World Breastfeeding Week. It’s not because I hold any kind of resentment towards breastfeeding parents but because I sometimes have a wobble and struggle to be okay with the choices I made for my son.
Some women breastfeed and take to it like ducks to water and feed their little booby monsters right up, they’ll have their rough patches but they come through it well.
Some struggle through it, maybe they find their feet after a little while and breast feed exclusively. Maybe they combination feed or switch fully to formula. Maybe they even discover that they hate breastfeeding but their baby just won’t take a bottle. There’s always going to be more to the story than you’re seeing on the surface.
Some women battle. They fight and cry and scream and fight and cry some more and it just doesn’t work for them. Traumatic birth, tongue ties, allergies, medication… whatever the reason, if you are one of these women I can tell you now, I have cried for you. You don’t know how strong you are. 
Some women choose to formula feed from the beginning and as much as I have struggled to understand that in the past I know darn well it is none of my business. A friend of mine explained her reasons to me once and it was like a storm settling in my head. It was 100% the right thing for her to do.
Some women would desperately love to bottle or breastfeed but can’t do either because  their child needs a tube or other special feeding apparatus. You guys are real heroes.

The point is, lets celebrate! Lets promote breastfeeding and support parents through their journey regardless of its length and if a woman you know is feeding in a different way to you then you have an opportunity to open a really interesting dialogue with her. 

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 11.0px ‘Helvetica Neue’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 11.0px ‘Helvetica Neue’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 12.0px} span.s1 {font-kerning: none}

Happy World Breastfeeding Week, you are doing an amazing job.