A nurse who knits…

September 16, 2009

Breastfeeding sagas…

Filed under: baby — yarnnut @ 11:57 pm

Breastfeeding Delilah has been an absolute nightmare. Since her birth, I’ve been attempting to breastfeed. So far, she’s not successfully breastfeed. She’s been getting pumped milk thru something called a supplemental nursing system or SNS for short. It looks like a bottle with a little tube attached to it. The tube is fed into her mouth while she sucks at my nipple. The idea is that she gets some milk from me and stimulates my nipple to make milk come in yet still gets supplemental milk or formula to ensure that she doesn’t lose weight. This method has worked extraordinarily well. She’s gained 1.5 lbs from her low weight of 6 lbs. Delilah’s been seen by her pediatrician and evaluated by 3 lactation consultants. The ped and the first 2 lactation consultants couldn’t find anything wrong and told me that it was just positioning and latch.

Then I went to a La Leche League meeting last Thursday. What an eye opener! I highly recommend that anyone who is pregnant or having trouble breastfeeding attend these monthly meetings. You’ll get support with breastfeeding, parenting, birthing, etc. Quite an impressive group of people and very knowledgeable. One of the group leaders has been volunteering for the organization since the before the birth of her first child 36 years ago. I received a lot of encouragement and the name of a very knowlegeable lactation consultant named Ann.

I met Ann on Monday and she spent 3 hours evaluating me and Delilah. It turns out that my positioning and Delilah’s latch was good. It was Delilah’s sucking that was off. And the cause was a condition called tongue tie or ANKYLOGLOSSIA. It’s a condition where the tongue’s movement is hindered by a tiny piece of membrane. There are varying degrees of tongue tie and it causes problems with breastfeeding. Other complications include speech problems and dental problems.

I called the pediatric ENT that she recommended the next day and made an appointment to clip the tongue tie. After discussing it with my hubby of course. We got an appointment for today and she had her upper and lower frenulum clipped this morning. It turns out that tongue tie is hereditary and my husband had his upper frenulum clipped as a child. He was never breastfeed so his mother didn’t know about it until he had dental problems. The procedure itself wasn’t so bad but I cried almost as much as Delilah did. The doctor numbed the areas with lidocaine and made the snips in the appropriate places. She cried only as long as she was restrained on the table. After my lactation consultant handed her to me, she stopped crying. Blood loss was minimal.

So… we tried breastfeeding. I still have to use all my tools like the nipple shield and the SNS. She has the compensatory behaviors that she used while she had the tongue tie and Ann gave us some exercises to do to strengthen her tongue and get her muscles moving like they are supposed to. We followup with her next week.

I’m hoping that this experience gets better really quick. Breastfeeding so far has been a monumental task requiring a nipple shield, SNS, multiple bottles, pumping every 2 hours to increase my milk supply. Ann had several principles for me to remember that I’m sure will help moms who are having breastfeeding problems. They are:

  • Feed the baby
  • Protect the milk supply:  this means taking herbs to increase supply and more importantly pumping.  You need to move milk to make milk.
  • Rest
  • And consider resolving the underlying issue.  In our case, the tongue tie.

If you are having BF problems or know of someone who is, tell them not to give up.  Breast feeding is lost to our culture and has so many advantages.  Help is available.  Go to La Leche League meetings.  Utilize lactation consultants.  If you can’t hire one yourself, they are available at most hospitals.  Lactation consults are offered to every mother.  Take advantage.

Of course, no knitting has happened.  BF has been all consuming.  If anyone has any experiences with tongue tie or difficult breastfeeding, I’d love to hear your story.



  1. Thanks so much for posting about this. I had issues with my first child that I didn’t get resolved. He got thrush, so I got thrush, and he wasn’t eating well so I just got frustrated and gave up after 6 weeks. I could have nursed him through if I’d had someone to give me the help and encouragement that I needed. I got that with my second child through our hospital and after a few unsuccessful (and painful) weeks, it was smooth sailing and we nursed until he got teeth. Besides the fact that it was healthier for him (he had food sensitivities), it created a very close bond between us.

    Comment by CambriaW — September 17, 2009 @ 3:16 am | Reply

  2. AH!! How frustrating that the ped and 2 lactation consultant missed that! My very first thought, as I read your first paragraph, was, “I wonder if there is a mouth issue casing this problem”!!
    At least it was finally discovered. Hopefully things will be smoother now.

    And, yay for discovering the toungue tie NOW and not down the road, when it could cause speech issues!! My mother’s aunt was “tounge-tied” and only family could understand her. I guess back then they either couldn’t help her, or maybe she was just too poor to get it treated. This was long, long time ago. She would be around 100 now, if she were alive. 🙂

    Comment by kristina — September 17, 2009 @ 3:38 am | Reply

  3. Good advice Kristina. I hope things will get easier soon for you. 😉

    Comment by Tracy — September 17, 2009 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  4. My mom was a member of La Leche when my brother and I are babies and she sings very highly of their expertise and support with breast feeding. I know when I have the baby I’ll join up as well. I’m so glad they were able to assist you and little Delilah is making progress! She is a doll!!

    Comment by Margaret — September 17, 2009 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  5. Way to hang in there! Not too many new mommys would have persevered as you have. Delilah is a very lucky baby! There’s plenty of time for knitting later!

    Comment by CPAknit — September 17, 2009 @ 8:20 pm | Reply

  6. glad you are pushing through with the BF. more power to you!!

    Comment by ruth — September 19, 2009 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

  7. I suspected that my son had a short upper frenulum (I’m a speech therapist)when I had trouble nursing him after having had no difficulties breastfeeding his older brother. I never had it clipped; just hung in with the pain, pumped and used a few supplemental bottles. A phone consultation with a La Leche consultant helped me tremendously – she said to wait until he opened his mouth wide before positioning him on the nipple and to hold him very close while making sure that the nipple was in quite far. Often, part of my breast obstructed his breathing so I just pushed the breast tissue away from his nose and held it while making sure not to pull the nipple back. After a few weeks, the nursing strengthened the muscles needed for sucking and, despite a slightly short frenulum, he did fine. It was definitely worth toughing it out for those first few weeks. I ended up nursing him for 13 months with supplemental bottles beginning at 6 months. Today, he has a thin upper lip but not abnormally so and never had a speech problem. Good luck.

    Comment by Kathy — September 21, 2009 @ 1:27 am | Reply

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