Let me just preface this by saying I am in NO way an expert. This is merely my experience with breastfeeding. My hope is that even just one mom can relate or find hope in reading this.
In order to better understand my experience it’s important to get a little background. My goal from the beginning was to breastfeed for one year. Something that I didn’t see as lofty at first.
Sadie was born December 26th 2015 at 7:42pm. This is important to know because on that day at that time we just so happened to get THE worst
snow storm blizzard I have ever experienced in West Texas. There was not a lactation consultant one at the hospital when she was born. Yeah. le’ sigh.
Fastforward 48 hours and we are still in the hospital…because we are snowed in. This.Girl.Loved.The.Boob. I mean would nurse on one side for 1 hour and 45 minutes. By the time we were able to go home I was cracking a bleeding. No fun. When sister was one week old we went back to the hospital for her weight check and I met with a lactation consultant then. Now, understand I am in no way trying to bash this LC or question her professionalism (busted – maybe I am just a little bit), but as a new mom you have the tendency to second guess yourself and your God-given instincts as a mother and listen to what those with more experience tell you. i.e. the lactation consultant whose JOB is to help new moms be successful at breastfeeding.
Anyway. I was told that Sadie had a great latch and everything looked fine. This was after her only watching Sadie’s initial latch and not watching an entire feeding to see if she was slipping off, the shape of my nipple after she was done, if she was milk drunk, etc.
Fast forward to when Sadie was 10 weeks old and we were STILL having problems breastfeeding. So much so that I couldn’t nurse without crying through the entire feeding. And let me just say right now that I am NOT a sissy. I have an incredibly high pain tolerance and typically don’t notice there is a problem until there is blood. Well, my friends, there was blood. Blood = Problem. A dear family friend back home in Dallas is an LC and after talking to her she had mentioned the possibility of Sadie having either a tongue or a lip tie. She assured me I was not being a sissy, that breastfeeding should not be that painful and that we should have it down by now.
We went back to the hospital and I requested to meet with a different LC and she *off the record* told me she thought Sadie did have a tongue tie (because apparently the professionals who deal with nursing babies all day every day aren’t allowed to diagnose a tongue tie. I mean, what?!?) and gave me a nipple shield to use in the meantime.
From there I had an LC who specializes in identifying tongue and lip ties come out to my house and watch Sadie nurse (for an entire feeding! Gasp!) and do her little test and sho’ nuff she had a lip tie for sure and a possible tongue tie.
(Side note – if you are in the West Texas area I highly recommend Valeri Gatlin of Breastfeeding Help of Lubbock. She was such a lifesaver and I am still texting her for advice constantly.
We then scheduled Sadies procedure in Ft Worth with Dr. Cole and it was confirmed that she had a lip tie and a very deep tongue tie. The procedure took all of maybe two minutes.
Don’t be fooled by her face…she was more upset about the swaddle than the actual procedure.
Fast forward – again – several months and I can honestly say now that most days we have a good handle on this breastfeeding business. When I say most days I really do mean most days, but not all days. Throw teething in the mix and this momma is left with sore nipples, yet again. However, despite just how difficult it has been I wouldn’t trade it or do any of it different.
My advice to the mommas wanting to be successful at breastfeeding.
1. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: I knew better than to listen to anyone (even an LC) who told me that everything looked fine. It hurt. HURT. Even though I was a first time mom and had no experience breastfeeding, I knew it wasn’t supposed to make you cry from pain. My advice? Trust your instincts. If you think there is a problem, chances are there is.
2. Seek help from a knowledgable source: If you are having trouble and think there may be the possibility of a tongue or lip tie seek out someone who specializes in that. Don’t just settle for your pediatrician or any ol’ LC. Someone who is an IBCLC would be a great place to start.
3. Support Support Support: Had I not had a supportive husband and mother constantly spurring me on, I am certain I would have given up. If it is something you want to do and are SERIOUS about doing make sure that you have a great squad cheering you on. Because there will be days when you threaten to bust out some formula. And you may need someone to reel you back in 😉
4. Never quit on a bad day: Lastly and I think most importantly. I’m so glad I never made the decision to give up when I was having a bad day and Sadie just wasn’t nursing well. Because after we got over whatever hump we were facing it always got better. It always gets better.
I will say this to all of the formula momma’s – I have no judgment and nothing but respect for you as well. A fed baby is a healthy baby, whether that be from formula or breast milk. We’re all just trying to make it on this crazy train of motherhood amiright.
Photo dump from where I nurse.