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Tongue-tie and the effects on Breastfeeding – a guest post

I wrote a post this week about breastfeeding and the fact that it is not marmite – you cannot simply love it or hate it, because to many external factors impact on the outcome. I mentioned that one of my best friends Leanne had a baby only two weeks ago and that she had difficulties dues to tongue-tie. She is still very emotional over the fact she can’t breastfeed and is heartbroken. She asked if she could tell her story and I happily obliged. When I read her story I cried. I was in awe of a mother of puts the needs of her child over what she wanted to do and felt was right. That is a true Mummy. Please show her some support by commenting. Thank you. 

Multiple Mummy, a.k.a. my best friend Kerry, recently wrote a blog on breastfeeding and the different experiences had by all. My second daughter was born two weeks ago, and I fully intended and indeed expected to still be breastfeeding her. I still can’t talk to friends about the fact that I am bottle feeding my daughter without getting really emotional and feeling like a complete failure so it is with an aching heart that I am writing a guest blog on my experience.

My first child was born 5 weeks prematurely, and after an initial few hiccups, I exclusively breastfed her for 6 months. It was easy, enjoyable and felt completely natural. Before the birth of this child I stocked up on lanolin cream, nursing pads and bras, nursing tops and Santogen ‘new mother’ tablets for ‘optimum breast milk’. To be packing all this away, just 14 days after the birth of my second child Fearne, is devastating. While my milk was still present, every time Fearne cried, my breasts would let down milk, as they should do, in order to provide for her and she just wouldn’t take it.

The reason why I had to give up breastfeeding – my daughter was born with a tongue-tie. I can’t fault the midwifery team. It was discovered the day she was born. They knew how determined I was to breastfeed so I was told to express and then cup feed her. This way she wouldn’t learn how to suck from a bottle, which is a different technique from sucking at the breast. The following day I had a paediatrician tell me that as she couldn’t suck at all and it was a very simple procedure then the operation would hopefully be brought forward. The current referral time at my local hospital is 3 – 6 weeks. Once back at home, another fantastic midwife told us we could get the tongue-tie sorted privately and gave us numbers we needed to ring. Sadly for us, it was Friday by then and the lady we needed to perform it was away for the weekend. We eventually got Fearne’s tongue-tie cut on the Monday, which was 5 days after she was born. By then she was beginning to reject the cup feeding and was fighting each feed.

Again a fantastic team of midwives took over at home and I had 2 days where they visited for 2 feeds a day to try and get her to latch on. They made me use nipple shields as they thought it may help but ultimately I think this was part of the problem as I feel it inhibited the natural process and stopped some of my milk flow as I became so anxious about using them.

By day 9, my daughter was becoming more and more sleepy at each feed as well as more unsettled each evening. One morning she fed for 1.5 hours and then went 5 hours till the next feed where she fed for 1 hour. She started screaming however just 20 minutes later and by then my nipples were so sore I didn’t know how to face latching her on again. That night I tried to feed her but never felt the let down reflex and the next morning she wouldn’t latch on at all.

We finally made a joint decision and moved to bottles.

This week I popped into Mothercare, and later on, logged onto face book. There were reminders every where that it is Breastfeeding week and that it is the best thing for your child. I never would have thought I wouldn’t be providing my children with the same opportunities and the best start in life possible. I am a person who never wanted to use bottles for the first six months. I hate the smell of formula and see it as a hassle constantly needing to ensure that the steriliser is loaded and ready. My daughter is also quite sick on formula reminding me that she is not having my breast milk that is ideally suited to her.  
What I have to continually remind myself though is how much more settled my daughter is now she is on formula. Before we went onto bottles, for the first 10 days of her life, my husband and I would have her screaming from approximately 10pm till 3am before she fell asleep.  Every feed would be a fight to get her to latch on with me getting increasingly tense and upset. She is now content after a feed and happy to look around and we can now appreciate the joy of having 2 children and watching her begin to interact with her sister.  

I would urge any woman to ask the midwife in the delivery room to check for tongue tie as no woman should have to give up breastfeeding because of it. If I don’t have another child then my breastfeeding experiences will have ended with my first child and I just wish it could have been a different story. 

A very emotive post don’t you think? Thank you so much Leanne for sharing you story with us. I am sure this will be beneficial to many. 
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