I wanted to write about my journey through breastfeeding thus far . It's something I always knew I wanted to do, but I wasn't determined or passionate about it until I watched 'The Milky Way' You HAVE to watch this. Your boss needs to watch this, your husband, your mother- just watch it! I didn't really understand the importance of breastfeeding until I watched this video.
Here's some things you should know about breastfeeding:
After learning these facts, I just had to do it. I insisted not a drop of formula would grace my son's lips. What I didn't know was how hard it would be to maintain this dream.
from the start
With my baby, I waited for the breast crawl and was not disappointed! It really did happen! He latched immediately and there was no pain. My doula casually said in passing "I think he has a lip tie". I brushed it off because he latched no problem, no pain. My baby was perfect and a rockstar breastfeeder. No intervention necessary, I read books people!
Well... if you are able to infer by the title of this post, it wasn't exactly all sunshine and roses.
That was the first and last pain free latch I would experience for weeks. Now I had heard a few things about breastfeeding, like how it hurts initially really badly but then it gets better. Your nipples have to 'toughen up' essentially. This turns out to not be true! There shouldn't be pain when you breastfeed!
I asked the nurses and went to the hospital's breastfeeding class. I asked for the lactation consultant to come to my room to observe my feeding, but apparently she was only there for a couple hours and had a lot of people to see, so I had to go to the class (this was a baby friendly hospital too...). A little put off, I went because I was in pain and I was wondering if there was any way to make this easier. I learned about the football hold. She observed the latch and said he had a great latch, despite the pain I was in. I trusted her. After all, she had been doing this for 30 years.
After discharge, it wasn't getting easier. In fact, I was now crying in pain with every feed because we were feeding so often I didn't have time to recover in the interim between feeds. I was tired, so very very tired, and in excruciating pain. I was lathering coconut oil and nipple cream on to try to get relief.
This was exhausting and upsetting. I felt so defeated. One week in I had my doula come by. She weighed him before and after and he took in so much milk! She adjusted the latch and it did help. She gave me some tips on how to ease the raw feeling after a feed. Did you know a hairdryer on your nipples can help?! Also rubbing breastmilk on them can help too! I felt so much better that she saw me! I felt a renewed sense of ease. Everything would be fine now.
Despite a slight improvement, most of the feedings were still painful, but we pushed through. Something just felt wrong. It shouldn't be this hard I kept thinking. I started researching. What my doula had said at his birth stuck in my head and I went off on a tangent researching lip and tongue ties. As an SLP, I feel like I should know about this! Why were we not taught about it in grad school?!
So now here I am bleary eyed and sore and researching at all hours what could be wrong with my baby- or with me. I had enough information to suspect that this tie was the issue. I sent my doula a video and photos of his mouth. She quickly said he had a moderate lip tie and posterior tongue tie. FINALLY AN ANSWER!!
I immediately sought out a highly recommended surgeon to check him out. We had an appointment the next day, despite the craziness of the corona virus! Sure enough, he did have a tongue and lip tie.
This was right before the laser tongue and lip tie revision. Baby gets goggles to protect their eyes as well as anyone present in the room. The actual procedure was about 30 seconds in total. There was crying, of course, but we breastfed right after. The next two days baby was uncomfortable and would cry more frequently. Homeopathic medicine Camilia (used during teething traditionally) has been helpful.
so why am i still in pain?
A few days later, I felt there was no progress. I think it actually felt worse. Baby was trying to latch, then arching back and screaming as if nothing was in there. So I tried pumping and got almost nothing after a half hour. Holy crap where was my supply?! Something was wrong. I reached out to a IBCLC lactation consultant. These are the top experts certified to know about how to help you breastfeed...But it was a teletherapy session because of the Corona virus. I got some great tips. Like for example, she knew his cries were gassy cries (how did she hear that I don't know) she told me not to have Fenugreek because it makes babies really gassy, and I should avoid dairy and chocolate and caffeine. Ah! gas! That's going to solve everything!! Finally!
So now I'm not eating dairy, or chocolate, not using fenugreek supplements..... and I'm still in pain! He is screaming and thrashing his body and I just want to cry and give up.
The person who was not going to allow a drop of formula to touch my son's lips was thinking of giving up?! I felt so horrible. Now I know why people give up. I was so quick to judge before. I would think, "Don't they know how great this is for the baby? Have they not seen the documentary? Are people just selfish?" Now I understood. The pain, the screaming...it wears people down! You're so tired and vulnerable and it's SO EASY to say "I GIVE UP!"
but i refuse!: continuing my education
I started finding courses online about breastfeeding and tongue ties. No one can come over physically because of the Corona Virus, so I felt it was up to me to figure out how to make this work. This was my last effort.
I found a great website that IBCLCs watch to learn and continue their education. I spent about 20 hours learning in between feedings. I watched lectures from IBCLCs, Dentists, Surgeons, Speech Pathologists (yes! some are great with this niche population), Chiropractors, Occupational Therapists, and Pediatricians.
I was determined to become an expert in this!
After many many hours of learning,I finally knew what I had to do... and there was SO MUCH to do!
Click here to read what happened in part 2!