I made it fairly clear when I had Aleesia how difficult I found breastfeeding to be. Said difficulty did not leave a warm fuzzy feeling for me during this experience with her. Yes, there were moments that were sweet and I did enjoy the calm when she would have a good non-frustrated feeding. But as a general rule, I was doing it because I wanted to try it and then I was committed to giving it the best effort possible, which was 6 months.
When I was pregnant with Vivian I knew I would do the same thing – give breastfeeding a try, maybe it would be easier. Maybe she wouldn’t have lip and tongue ties or issues with weight gain. I was especially interested to see how things would play out since I would be working at home and not having to pump full time. (for the record, the working at home/feeding on demand thing is great!)
As soon as she was born, I checked her for ties – which she had. I even mentioned them to the lactation consultant who saw us before we left. She blew me off and told me they were no big deal. I knew they could be a big deal, but decided to use some of the tricks I learned from Aleesia to try and make things work.
We battled through the initial discomfort and it seemed that her latch was okay – not great, but she was a new human so I was giving her some slack! She then started to do a lot of things that I knew were not good including using a chewing motion v. sucking, pulling off so far that she usually had no areola in her latch, and she was getting so frustrated. Also, she did not seem to bet getting bigger. But, unlike Aleesia (and Gianna, for that matter), Vivian is such a generally happy baby! I figured I was being paranoid all that time…
But eventually I used my mommy instinct and took her to a breastfeeding group so I could do a weighted feed, have her evaluated, and validate what I already knew – her lip and tongue ties needed corrected. All of which happened . That particular day I ended up feeding her from both sides over 40+ minutes and she transferred about 2 ounces of milk. Cue all the guilt. We got her to the pediatrician for a weight check, and while both G and A were similarly small (they were all really close to the same weight at the same age!), Vivian was born the biggest and had the lowest gain over the same time period. Our pediatrician agreed with our plan to have her ties revised and thankfully a wonderful dentist much closer to us was available to do it.
We saw Dr. Milton who let me know that her lip tie was fairly bad but her tongue tie was very bad (like an 8/10 on the “this is the worst I’ve seen” scale)! He fixed her up in about 3 minutes and we could already tell the difference. She did great with the procedure, we have about a week of stretching left and then she will be REALLY happy!
before and after pictures
Along with having the ULT and PTT’s revised we started some cranial sacral therapy (CST) which she hates but is helping! We had a one-on-one consultation with an IBCLC as well – she is still not transferring much milk per feeding. The IBCLC confirmed the chewing v. sucking situation and we think that is likely the cause of the poor milk transfer at this point. So, we are trying to do some suck training, a different way to position her when she latches, and basically doing everything we can to break the bad habits she has formed/help her to learn to suck the right way.
A lot of little problems that might be a big deal on their own but are all compounding together to lead this happy little girl to maintain her portable, peanut status.
This all seems like so much to go through when giving her a bottle would be so much easier. But now I am committed to doing my part in making this work for at least 6 months, or longer. She does take bottles sort of okay most of the time when I am out of town or away for any reason, so that’s not the issue. I have enjoyed the experience with her slightly more, maybe because I feel more empowered or knowledgeable on how to maneuver these crazy situations. Maybe because she is such a happy baby? Maybe I enjoy it more simply because I don’t have to pump full time on a regular basis.
The moral of the story, breastfeeding is probably not going to be easy but it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be miserable for you or your little – so go with your gut.
If you think something is wrong, seek advice/answers/help. Lip and tongue ties are considered midline defects, they can (and often do) have a detrimental affect on breastfeeding but they also affect other things, like digestion. Our pediatrician sometimes thinks I am crazy, but does support me in my efforts to do what is necessary to make this work. I would say something is helping, she had a 3 ounce gain in 3 weeks, which for her, is a lot! She is up a full 2 pounds from birth at 4 months – we’re taking this as a win for the moment (despite what that pesky growth chart says).
Also, at the end of the day, we all know that it only matters that you feed your baby in whatever way works for you and your family. I have no idea how long I’ll be able to breastfeed for, it’s up to Miss Vivian, I suppose. (and for the record, my other kids had formula and they are awesome, so obviously I have no bias there!)