Delilah and I are a breastfeeding pair! We’ve had such a hard road and I’d like to share our story for others who may be facing similar difficulties.
In my previous posts, I described a few of the things going on with feeding Delilah. We started out breastfeeding in the hospital but she would gnaw on my nipple for hours before falling asleep. She would wake up minutes later and want to feed again. All the while, my nipple felt like sandpaper was being rubbed on it. Now, when you’re enduring it for an hour or two at a time, becomes unbearable.
We visited 2 lactation consultants who told us that we were having latch issues. Since my nipples were sore, we were given a nipple shield (which is a silicone cover that protects your nipples) and an SNS since she wasn’t gaining enough weight. A week goes by and I go to a La Leche League meeting to get additional support.
At the LLL meeting, I meet some lovely moms who had a lot of success breastfeeding but they all had slow starts. It was helpful to hear their stories. Even more helpful, I received the name of another lactation consultant. I called her and she saw me a few days later.
I learn from this LC that my baby is tongue tied. She has a type 3 posterior tongue tie to be exact. If you don’t know what this is, it is when someone’s tongue is tethered to the bottom of the mouth. There are varying degrees and can have breastfeeding, feeding, speech, and dental complications. The tongue tie didn’t allow my baby’s tongue to come forward enough to make breastfeeding effective. Her tongue did not cup my nipple and she couldn’t get milk out and her gums chewed my nipple until it looked like raw meat. They were cracked and bleeding. Not the most fun experience I’ve had in my life. But I wanted to breastfeed. In order to do that, I had to get her tongue tie clipped. I did a bunch of research online and most sources said that the procedure was very minor and resulted and success with breastfeeding in almost all cases. I thought to myself, even if she didn’t breastfeed, at least I took care of the speech and dental problems.
My hubby and I got her clipped two days later. We found out from the doctor, she also had a “labial frenulum” which is basically a tongue tie of the top lip. Both were clipped as they had the same complications. Right after the procedure, my lactation consultant and I put her to breast. No difference. So, I was sent home with tongue exercises and instructed to continue using the nipple shield and SNS until we knew she was getting milk. I forgot to mention that I was pumping my milk every two hours to build my milk supply up.
The next week, there was absolutely no improvement so I called my LC to come help. Delilah was so upset when she came over and couldn’t be calmed down so the LC suggested that she was still in pain and needed help with eating. I was instructed to “finger feed” her until the clippings were completely healed. Finally 2 weeks later she was completely healed and I tried to put her to breast. Delilah fussed and cried so bad that I had to resort to finger feeding again. Meanwhile, we started cranial sacral therapy to help with any residual problems left over from the tongue tie. I didn’t know much about cranial sacral therapy but I thought, hey… it couldn’t hurt.
I ended up calling another lactation consultant who evaluated Delilah. We found out that Delilah still couldn’t get milk out of the breast and that she was still tongue tied. Type 4 tongue tie which meant that the tongue was tied at the very back of the tongue. I was devastated. All I wanted to do was breastfeed! The lactation consultant wanted to make feeding time easier for me while getting Delilah to work for her food, so she gave me special slow flow nipples and instructions for pace bottle feeding. Basically pace bottle feeding is when you have a very slow flow for the bottle and make the baby pause every few sucks. You want to mimic the movements of breastfeeding.
After a week of this, I started getting discouraged. I was still pumping every 2 hours to protect my milk supply and to have milk to give her in the bottle. I had to wash all the bottles and pump parts. This was a lot of work. At least it wasn’t as bad as the nipple shield and SNS. That made the breast a battle ground. Neither Delilah or I wanted to do it because it hurt both of us pretty bad. I almost gave up. But I kept thinking to myself “She might be on the verge of getting the whole breastfeeding thing”. I didn’t want to stop going just in case. I fed her skin to skin and snuggled her as much as I could.
Then last Friday, while my LC was here, Delilah latched! I couldn’t believe it. After she unlatched herself, I offered her the other breast and she took it! The LC told me to start just offering my breast and give her the bottle if she was uncontrollably fussy. She quit the bottle cold turkey that day and hasn’t had a bottle since then.
It’s been a long and difficult road. Basically almost 2 months until she willingly took the breast and actually got a meal out of it. If anyone needs encouragement, it’s really hard and you’re going to want to give up but eventually, your baby will get it. I’m treasuring each nursing session that Delilah and I get to share. We have an appointment to get the type 4 tongue tie clipped on Wednesday. I don’t know if I want to do it. My nipples still hurt a bit but nothing compared to before. And she is getting milk even though it does take her a long time. She has enough wet diapers and I was a bit worried because she hadn’t pooped since giving up the bottle. But she surprised me with a super poopy diaper earlier in the afternoon. A little bit of research showed me that it is normal for babies to have a few days between bowel movements.
So yeah!!! Things are going well so far. I don’t know what I’ll do since I don’t have to pump anymore. Just kidding. I have tons of stuff to
catch up on. Like bills, cleaning, knitting… most important is the knitting.
I’ll post some recent pictures in my next post. Until next time!