4.2% of babies are tongue-tied. Those with the condition are 3 times as likely to be exclusively bottle fed at 1 week (Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 2005). Is this any surprise when prevailing medical opinion is that tongue-tie ‘will usually right itself’ by the end of the baby’s first year. If the baby still has a problem after that, a paediatric surgeon might consider a frenulotomy – a procedure that divides the frenulum from the base of the mouth. Others will not perform surgery unless the child develops speech problems and has not responded to speech therapy. By that time, the child will require a general anaesthetic for the procedure. Where does this leave nursing mothers and their barbed-wire gummed babies? (click HERE to read the story of a mom that had to fight for her baby’s tongue tie to be taken seriously).
However, fortunately, some doctors believe in a more pro-active attitude. These pro-baby miracle-workers are few and far between; mothers must take initiative and hunt them out, as this mom did:
“I was confident that everything about breastfeeding would be fine. I was convinced that formula was for emergency purposes, knew the statistics, and ate up the facts on how breast is best. I felt it was important to have the continuity of providing for my child and not just cutting our connection with formula. I fed her and held her inside for 9 months, so what is another 6, 9, 12, 24? Plus after reading the ingredients list on a formula can and seeing the costs monetary and possibly heath-wise, it became extremely important to succeed.
About a week after the birth of my little sucker fish I was actually counting the days I had to go through to get to 6 months. It was so hard my nipples were turning white and blistering. Lanolin and other creams provided zero relief. My husband and mother in law suggested a pacifier since I was exhausted and in pain. Also, my daughter seemed ‘skinny’ to me. I grew up with a perception that infants were always chubby.
At Sophia’s weigh-in check, my deepest fears were confirmed – I found out that my baby had lost a lot of weight and had not gained her birth weight. She was also diagnosed with tongue tie and wasn’t suckling properly. This was causing the pain and damage. It wasn’t until a week later that I managed to see the doctor who would perform the tongue-freeing procedure. So I suffered through the week, dreading each feeding and squeezing milk into my baby’s mouth using compressions (as I had read online via Jack Newman’s website) and pumping when I could nurse no more.
Due to the effort required for her to nurse Sophia’s legs would turn blue (that was super weird and scary); she started to develop very poor digestion and colic. We took her to the osteopath who works on babies and she was able to untwist her small intestines and tilt her stomach. On that visit Sophia burped out a ridiculous amount of air and shot poop all over that women. I was horrified! To which she smiled and said in French “cest bon sophia!” after that she would eat even longer, sleep longer and didn’t develop full on colic.
My friends who saw my breasts said that they had this problem and stopped breastfeeding, and after formula their child is okay so not to worry. Another of my very assertive friends told me how to go about finding a proper formula for my daughter and that there was no shame in it (Her kid has eczema and would still not sleep well at 3, so this made me look ahead at what my baby ‘might’ get from it). My friend’s weren’t the only unhelpful voices. My aunts, whom all formula fed, told me that my child was too thin and breastfeeding for 6 months exclusively was cruel and starving her of nutrients. I walked down the aisle of the drug store and looked at every can of formula and felt lost in the words of ‘you can do it’ vs ‘formula is okay’.
Finally it was time for the doctor’s appointment. We were slipped in after the working hours. In 30 seconds my baby had two snips to her frenulum and was latched back to my breast by the skilled hands of this miracle woman. The doctor watched my daughter feed then examined her tongue and swallowing once more, then waited as my skinny little baby fed for nearly 30 minutes both sides.
The days following were so hard. Even though she was latching properly and sucking efficiently, my breasts were painfully scabbed and damaged, and my confidence was shattered. I felt inadequate naturally. It took my daughter six weeks to gain her weight back and for my milk supply to really stabilize. Luckily my mother and midwife urged me to see a lactation consultant to verify that everything was going right.
That hour of nursing and practice with the LC helped my confidence grow back. Dr Newman’s all purpose nipple ointment sealed my cuts and put me on the road to recovery (it was almost 2 months before the pain was completely gone). Google and Kellymom helped me find my way past blocked ducts and the low supply caused by the early lack of proper nursing and pumping, along with inappropriate pacifier usage. I took away the pacifier and nursed on demand. I literally set up camp and made myself the President of Nursing Inc. I feel like all I did was nurse and eat. After a little while I had tons of milk!!
There are so many hurdles to breastfeeding that will break you if you let them. I am so glad formula never made its way into my home despite the challenges. I feel grateful that I was able to breastfeed my beautiful little girl for 18 months after this ordeal. She is healthy, intelligent and rarely ever sick. I feel like I gave her the best start I could. My challenges gave me compassion and the drive to be a proactive woman. As a shower gift to my pregnant friends, I give them a coupon for an hour with a lactation consultant. I want everyone to have the proper help to be successful at breastfeeding.
Most women struggle at breastfeeding, and women who succeed are often portrayed as lactivist, self righteous, and un-sympathetic. When a mom tells me why she is formula feeding, it is usually due to sabotage whether she realizes it or not.
I don’t understand why online formula feeding forums even exist. How hard can it really be to fill and hold a bottle. I feel like saying, “you want to hear problems? I’ll send you a pictures of my spazzy nips ladies” but I let it slide.”
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