Saturday, 11 October 2014

Breastfeeding and Tongue Tie woes

From the start something didn't feel right with Freya's latch, I remember the first few days when I fed D being painful but this was another level, red hot pokers in my nipples would have been more pleasant. 

I spoke to my midwife who checked for a tongue tie but couldn't see one so we continued to work on the latch but Freya just couldn't stay on. She latched with a big wide mouth but always slipped down and I just couldn't work out what we were doing wrong. I started to dread each feed knowing how painful it would be and even started thinking about giving up breast feeding which was something I really didn't want but I couldn't imagine another 6 days feeding let alone 6 months and beyond. 

It all came to a bit of a head at Freya's five day check, the inevitable 'how's feeding going' question came up and the tears flowed! The midwife checked Freya's latch again but couldn't work out why she wasn't staying on and feeding properly so she suggested we see a colleague of hers who specialised in tongue ties and arranged an appointment a few days later. 

After weighing Freya she told us she had only lost 70grams from her birth weight so through sheer determination on both our parts she thankfully wasn't losing lots of weight which was a relief but I knew I couldn't keep feeding through the pain and Freya was starting to show signs of reflux which we later discovered were linked to tongue ties and bad latching. 

We visited the specialist a few days later and she found a posteria tie straight away. She said Freya must have been literally sucking so hard with her lips she was getting enough food but agreed this wouldn't be sustainable in the long term so she talked about our options if we decided we wanted to do anything about the tie. At home we did some research and decided to get the procedure done as we really wanted to continue breast feeding and hoped it would also relieve some of Freya's reflux symptoms. We chose to go private for the procedure as we would have to wait 3 months on the NHS and even then there's no guarantee they'll do it if the baby isn't losing weight despite any discomfort mum or baby might be in. 

The procedure itself was very quick but quite distressing to see. Freya cried for a few seconds but stopped as soon as she fed and we had a few whimpers after that but otherwise she was fine. We were told the tie had been very tight so would probably have also caused issued with speech etc as Freya grew up so despite the obvious guilt at putting her through the pain we felt we had done the right thing.  

Afterwards I guess I had hoped for a miracle perfect latch but this didn't happen. Freya needs to strengthen her tongue and is so used to nipple feeding we need to get into practice getting a good latch. We have been getting help from a local lactation specialist who has suggested different positions and topping up but we're still struggling. I don't really feel expressing and topping up is a viable option for us as we're already feeding about 10-12 times a day and adding expressing, bottle feeding and sterilising to the mix seems impossible with an almost 3 year old to look after as well.

I am well aware that the mere suggestion of moving to bottles and formula is likely to bring with it a barrage of 'breast is best' comments but there are very real moments when I feel I've fallen out of love with breast feeding and dread each feed as I know it'll hurt so much. Plus I feel mine and Freya's relationship is dominated by these latch issues and the worries that bad latching is causing wind and possible reflux. I never imagined I would be considering giving up feeding as it's always been so important to me and the fear of regretting a decision somewhere down the line is overwhelming but I'd be lying if said it hadn't crossed my mind more than once. 

At the moment I'm holding off any decisions and will continue to work on Freya's latch and I do truly hope things improve but I have definitely realised the importance of that old saying - "happy mummy happy baby" and won't struggle at the expense of my health or my bond with Freya.

If I do decide to stop I am dreading people's opinions as some always feel it necessary to judge a bottle feeding mum. Perhaps most of all I'm dreading the breast feeding nazis Health Visitors who I suspect will feed me all the standard 'breast is best' lines - like I don't already know this and feel bad enough as it is.

For now though I'm persevering with the help of copious amounts of Lanisoh and paracetamol and we'll take each day as it comes.


  1. Oh my goodness this brought back painful/upsetting memories :( Catherine and Alexandra both had tongue tie ( not posterior) add that to inverted nipples and I was practically on the ceiling every time I tried feeding them, I really tried and despite the midwife assuring me inverted nipples made no difference it did!! In the end I borrowed a medela electric pump and expressed. The girls had their ties cut but breastfeeding just didn't work for us. I have had the breastfeeding supermums ( not all mums just the special breed that think they are superheroes ) preaching how they have never given their baby a bottle and formula eeek!! what a swear word!
    I tried my hardest - I felt like a dairy cow but I have three happy healthy girls and that's what matters. Good luck Becky- your an amazing mum and babyies can sense if you are upset or in discomfort so do what's best for both of you. Xxx

  2. Oh wow. I had no idea you were having such a tough time. Sending love. You're not in the easiest of situations at all and like you I would have expected everything to just work like magic after the TT had been sorted. It should get better in time. I am a huge breastfeeding fan and hate it when people formula feed without even trying to breastfeed but in situations like yours no-one could say you hadn't tried and no-one could accuse you of not giving it your all. You have to do what is best for you and your baby and if it comes to a point where formula would be the best for all of you then so be it - no-one should judge that decision xx

  3. My baby had a tongue tie and fix as well. I really thought it was going to be a magic instant fix. The first week or two there was very little change, she was just as bad at feed. We reached a point were it felt as if I was bottle feeding and she was just going to the breast to comfort suck. I was at the brink of quitting, researching the pros and cons of formula vs exclusively expressing deciding only to continue based on fact we are broke and couldn't afford the monthly cost of formula. But around 3 to 4 weeks post cut things turned a corner (far longer than I ever expected), I dropped her bottles and she's now exclusively feeding. So things can still turn a corner. There definitely isn't a one size fits all answer to tongue tie issues and I don't think its always "best" to carry on the breast,express,top up,sterilise routine.

  4. Sorry to hear you've had so much difficulties. My baby too had tongue tie and it was snipped when she was 7days old. After that it took another 6 weeks of combination feeding and topping up, and was very painful to begin with, but when she got bigger, more efficient and her mouth got larger she got a good latch. Now she is 16 months and still feeding :) good luck, just wanted to give a few words if encouragement that it can work :)

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