Hello & welcome to The Onshore Mum blog. If you’ve stumbled across this post from Now Baby then a big hello to you!
The aim of this is blog to overall spread awareness of something I believe is HUGELY misdiagnosed- Tongue Tie. I also want to talk about some other common breastfeeding issues that quite frankly, before I had my first baby – I had no idea about.
I decided instantly that this blog would be about breastfeeding & everything that comes with it… Including how clueless and naive I was etc…. & basically ..
‘If it realllyyyy hurts… Then it’s probably not quite right 😀 !!!’
***But to start with I feel I need to write a little disclaimer!…***
I am in no way a medical professional, and everything written here is either my opinion or things I’ve learned that have worked/helped us since becoming parents. Always contact your doctor / midwife / HV if you’re concerned about your baby.
Okay! So that’s the boring bit done… First of all, I want to say I have no shame in sharing with you that…
I Formula fed Bobby and Breastfed Jax!
Yep! I said it … and there is absolutely nothing wrong with either, because it’s up to YOU how you feed YOUR baby! When I was pregnant with Bobby I was adamant I was going to breastfeed. Formula simply wasn’t an option in my head at the time, to me I thought if I want to breastfeed that much, then I will! …. Oh… How wrong I was…. And even though at the time, I thought me having that sheer determination to succeed would be enough to keep me going… until I made it… It ended up being the very thing that broke me down and destroyed me. Although reading this may express the negative experience I initially had with breastfeeding. Do not let it put you off ! The purpose of this post is to spread the awareness of some of the most common breastfeeding issues that (if caught soon enough) can be resolved with minimal impact to your breastfeeding journey.
Every baby is different… Even siblings!
This is a really important point. I managed to have a successful breastfeeding journey with my second son, Jax. He also was TT… However, with us now being aware of the symptoms. We got it sorted as soon as it began to affect feeding. So don’t be afraid & put off just because you had a bad experience first time round 🙂 you never know what may happen! For me, things just seemed to go “right” second time around! This is Jax at 3 months old in the Dominican Republic 🙂
The Early Days of Feeding..
Back to May 2014 when Bobby was finally born via emergency caesarean – 8 long gruelling days overdue. **Which by the way were the worst 8 days of my husbands life – according to him** They handed us this tiny little 6lb 11oz bundle & we finally had our first skin to skin! After a few minutes he found his way to my boob and latched on for the very first time..
I know they said it hurts but jeeeez! I had to check there wasn’t already teeth in his tiny little mouth! Over the next three days in hospital, the midwives helped me get to grips with feeding this little human that I didn’t really know yet. Everything was going well .. [or so I thought] .. But I can remember my toes curling every time he latched on, ‘It’s normal’I kept telling myself. ‘Everyone says it hurts to start with’.
On day 5 the midwife came to weigh Bobby at home.‘Ohhhh, he’s now 7lb 5oz! That’s such a good weight gain for a breastfed baby. You must have some supermilk there! Well done you’ she said. I remember thinking, well if he’s gained weight when babies normally lose it then I must be doing it “right”. I explained the pain I was in, how my nipples were cracked, sore and bleeding. Also, how there was a slight clicking sound when he swallowed. As well as my nipple coming out shaped like the end of a lipstick! And blood blisters appearing! [I know… crazy right… whoever said motherhood was glamorous??]. So, she checked his latch whilst I was feeding and of course… he didn’t ‘click’ that time ** eye roll ** Typical! His latch looked fine, she couldn’t see an issue so she took a little look inside his mouth.
‘It looks like there is a possibility of Tongue Tie, but I wouldn’t worry too much as he is gaining weight. Keep applying your Lansinoh cream and maybe try getting some nipple shields to give yourself a chance to heal for a few days’ < strong>By the way. If you’re pregnant and haven’t already bought this stuff. Do it now! It’s the best thing ever and I still use it three years later as a lip balm daily 👌🏼< img src=”https://theonshoremum.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/tonguetie.png” class=”alignnone size-full”>
g team incase I had any further issues and that was that. I wish I could go back to that day and tell myself to speak up. To say I’m in pain and something isn’t right here! Can you refer us to a specialist please, as I’d like a second opinion. But of course, as a first time mum – I had no flipping clue what I was talking about! I didn’t know what was or wasn’t normal, or exactly how much pain I was meant to be in. I guess that is the point of this post. If I could have had someone there at the time that had been through a similar experience it would have been such a help and relief. It really is best to get all the little issues ironed out as soon as possible. The longer I left it, the worse it got. I kept thinking it will get better tomorrow; but in reality – things just spiralled out of control.What does Tongue Tie look like?< span style=”color: #000000″>These are just a few images I found from a quick google search.. You can see the tongue isn’t pointy when it’s stuck out. It’s almost dipped back in the end like a ♥ shape upside down. The tongue is also often in a ‘cupped’ shape – This is because it’s restricted underneath, meaning it can’t lift up properly.
These are some of the things that can affect breastfeeding successfully. If the baby can’t get the full tongue movement they need, to push the nipple/areola far enough back into their mouth. It causes them to suckle too close to the nipple teat. That’s what makes us sore! 😦 This image shows you what I mean. Look how much further back the nipple is in the left picture!
Back to the Story!
I remember in those early weeks – feeling like I had this expectation to live up to, and almost felt embarrassed to ask for help because surely that meant I was failing??!….That was when I’d say things started to go downhill.<<<
Bobby & it wasn’t long until I began to dread the thought of his next feed. I was supposed to be in a state of euphoria with my newborn baby boy – everything perfect. But in reality, I was in agony crying because I was struggling to do the one thing that was natural for a woman to do. I couldn’t even feed my child!
s amazing through those first few weeks, he fully supported me and stayed awake with me during the night feeds to keep me going. There is no way I’d have got as far as I did with out his support. I remember he once suggested giving Bobby a bottle of formula to give me a break, but everything in my head was saying NO…. You can do this!! If you give in now & give him a bottle of formula – you’ve failed. (Now I know, that’s not true at all) but at the time that is exactly how I felt.The Procedure..
Eventually, after a second bout of Mastitis, (That’s hideous enough in itself!)… I gave in and called the breastfeeding team. They were really helpful and I instantly wished I had rung them weeks ago! The lady made us an appointment at the James Paget University Hospital to have Bobby’s Tongue Tie assessed / cut if needed. After the procedure, they explained that it may or may not help our breastfeeding struggles. They explained that if the baby has their tie cut later than those initial first few days of being born, then it may be that it doesn’t improve the feeding because they have already established their latch. It would mean the baby would need to re-learn how to use their tongue.
I know the pictures look scary… But when they are babies, the nerve endings haven’t formed there yet. So it doesn’t actually hurt them having it snipped. It’s more them being restrained that causes the upset!
So, anyway… I battled on for a further 2 weeks until Snod sat me down and said we really need to think about what is best for all of us. Not just Bobby! I was absolutely drained and exhausted from hourly feeds as well as recovering from an emergency c-section. And despite having the procedure, our breastfeeding journey sadly wasn’t improving. Snod was going back Offshore for 2 weeks & it hit me that there was no way I’d be able to keep this up all on my own.
So, after 4/5 weeks…. Snod gave Bobby his first bottle. I remember it like it was yesterday! I sat there and cried and cried… I was absolutely gutted. No… I was heartbroken!
the transition to formula, we were ALL so much happier! **PHEW!!** It really was the best thing for us to do… Of course ‘breast is best’ overall. But in that situation- I was beating myself up so badly, that surely the negative effects of it all were worse than me giving my baby formula??! I just wish there was more knowledge and information given to pregnant mums to be on the realities of what it is truly like! I had never even heard of tongue tie before I had Bobby. Something so small that can be corrected in a matter of minutes. Had I known the impact it would have had on our journey, I would have pushed to get it sorted as soon as it was spotted on day 5.< strong>** Just a little sidenote…. Once Jax arrived and we realised he was also Tongue tied, I asked our midwife/HV for a referral. However, a good friend recommended going to see Mr Minocha at the Norfolk and Norwich rather than the James Paget. Our experience in the JP TT clinic genuinely was awful & I’m not just saying that. They assessed and did the procedure like the picture below on the right. Snod had to be the one restraining him! Then, to make things worse- in the end Bobby’s tie wasn’t even fully cut (hence no improvement in feeding). So, with this still fresh in our minds… we went to see Mr Minocha.< img src=”https://theonshoremum.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/how-to-diagnose-tongue-tie-6.jpg?w=680″><<<
positive experience! Everything felt so much more relaxed and even down to the way they held the babies during the procedure… everything was so much better! I walked out of the Paget in tears, but I walked out of the N&N with a smile on my face and a happy baby!!! So, if anyone reading this is thinking their little one may be tongue-tied. I would urge you to do a little research and ask to be referred to a recommended specialist. Don’t feel like you’re being a pain, you have the right to ask to be referred wherever you want. This is your baby and you obviously are going to want what’s best for them!
Disclaimer: I’m not saying the N&N is better than the James Paget, but for us – in this department it definitely was.
Okay, so this has been a long one. If you got this far… Thank you! I know it’s probably been a bit boring but I really felt like my experience could help others. I’m sure there’s things I’ve forgotten to put in.. and I know this has been mostly based on TT. But I hope you can see some hints into other things I want to write about in the future.
Post Natal Depression for example…. will be one of my future posts. Only the people closest to me know I have battled with this. So if I can make someone reading this feel like they ‘aren’t the only one’ then to me …… That’s SUCCESS!
♥ I will post some links below to some useful sites for further info if you’d like to read more!
Tongue Tie – Step by Step< a href=”http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/tongue-tie/Pages/Introduction.aspx” target=”_blank”>NHS- Tongue Tie info< strong>♥ & Please feel free to comment, tag, like and share with any new mums you feel might benefit from reading this 🙂
Thanks for reading,
Emma – The Onshore Mum x