When baby A was born last November, things were not quite right and I knew it after only a few hours. She didn’t latch properly in the delivery room, when she finally did latch it was very painful and just got worse and worse. In hospital I asked every midwife I saw if they could help me with breastfeeding. Some were more helpful than others, they all showed me the same position: the rugby hold (apparently the best position when you have big boobs…) and said it was normal to hurt at the beginning. Funny that, our NCT class on breastfeeding told us the opposite! They teacher talked about laid back breastfeeding and it all seemed so natural and easy.
A never seemed satisfied on the first day, she wanted to breastfeed for hours (red flag number 1), would fall asleep feeding (red flag number 2), would scream when taken off the breast and not sleep (red flag number 3), my nipples were starting to really hurt (red flag number 4). The first night after feeding her nonstop from 1 to 3 AM, in desperation I went to ask the midwives for help. One of them (the only one) looked in her mouth but couldn’t see anything (if only she had looked a bit harder or was better trained, the first month with our baby would have been a whole different story) so she told me I could give her a bottle if I wanted and so the chaos of mixed feeding began at 3AM in the dark on a hospital bed with me crying because I didn’t know what to do and felt like I had failed after less than 24 hours of being a mum.
Here is a picture of her asleep mid-feed in the hospital:
The next day, I asked a breastfeeding consultant to have a look at the latch, apparently it was the ‘perfect latch”, the fact it was excruciating didn’t seem to matter. That evening when we were finally discharged at 8.30PM, we left with one baby and one bottle of Cow and Gate, we were too scared to leave without the milk. How would we manage that night? Needless to say we didn’t manage very well and went straight to the shops the next day to buy some more milk because I wasn’t making any. I didn’t make any for a week. My stitches got badly infected which didn’t help, I was exhausted and totally sleep deprived which didn’t help, I was stressed and upset which didn’t help, we were supplementing with formula which didn’t help…
Midwives came and didn’t think anything was wrong, despite bleeding and cracked nipples. I will never forget seeing her mouth covered in blood after feeding, I knew this was not right. My mum, who was staying with us was confused as well, she never had these issues so spent a lot of time googling and mentioned there was a thing called “posterior tongue tie”, which is harder to diagnose so the midwife in the hospital could have missed it.
Every time I would put A to the breast, I would scream and cry and so she developed a reflex to tense her shoulders, it looked like she was hiding or scared of me, it would take her 6 weeks to get out of the habit, needless to say remembering this breaks my heart.
And so, one week after she was born, after a week of utter chaos: “is she hungry?”, “is she tired?”, “has she had enough?”, I called a lactation consultant to come over. Sometimes you have to throw money at a problem. Within a few minutes she diagnosed tongue tie and everything made sense. She offered to snip it there and there but I was scared, I wanted a second opinion, one of the biggest regrets of motherhood I have.
Talking of regrets, mum I want to apologise for something. You saw I was having issues and said ” I am more than happy to show you how I used to breastfeed”, meaning show me another position that this stupid rugby hold. In my sleep deprived crazy state, for some reason, I thought you meant you wanted to put A to your breast and show me, which of course you didn’t so I said no. I’m sorry, I should have listened to you and let you show me the cradle hold. Every single midwife in hospital had showed me the rugby hold position so I thought that’s what I had to do. I have some unexplained unreasonable respect for authority and didn’t question them. I did wonder how I was ever going to feed in that position in public and why nobody else was feeding like that but when you haven’t slept for days and are in pain, you lose the plot basically.
After a month of pain, stress, sleepless night and chaos (feeding, pumping, formula and repeat), on December 23rd 2014 her tongue tie was snipped and …. I couldn’t feel a difference. The disappointment was pretty big but my nipples were in such a bad state and so cracked that until they healed it still hurt me to feed her. It took about 10 days to become pain free, just in time for a growth spurt and extreme feeding that I would not have survived had she still been tongue tied. We would go back to the tongue tie clinic to have it done AGAIN 3 months later but that was just unlucky and the pain was never as bad the second time.
3 days after it was snipped, she was excited to discover her tongue could move!
On the nights when I used to sit up in bed crying and saying to myself ” I hate breastfeeding”, the only thing that kept me going was knowing something was wrong and there was a solution. How I kept on feeding every day for that month until the clinic I don’t know but I sure am happy I did. I knew I could regret moving over to formula but I would never regret exclusively breastfeeding.
Bella-Roo, I did it for you and wouldn’t be able to go through that much pain for anybody else
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Also trying to link to Honest mum’s #brilliantblogposts