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Help - tongue tie, mixed feeding, confusion...

(31 Posts)
PeshwariNaan Wed 13-Feb-13 13:31:05

Hi all,

I haven't posted here before but I'm so confused as to how to proceed feeding my daughter, who is 5 weeks old. I have a huge amount of guilt and shame and I don't think I've ever cried so much in my life as I have over her feeding issues.

I'm so committed to breastfeeding but I've had a really hard time. DD was diagnosed with tongue tie on day 1 in hospital. I had scabs and bleeding nipples. Wouldn't have minded so much if she was ever actually satisfied after a feed, but poor thing just couldn't suckle. We agreed to mix feed once home and I'm glad we did because I feel she wouldn't have thrived.

I saw a lactation consultant within the week and was put on a programme of expressing, medication for milk supply and DD was diagnosed with tongue tie, she also has a high palate and short tongue. In addition I've got flat nipples!

I never had much luck expressing so I 'didn't qualify' for NHS surgery for her, which is apparently given to women with successful expressing and a huge supply despite the fact that my baby couldn't suckle. We finally paid for private surgery on day 18 after I felt I was losing my mind. I'd been fobbed off by everyone, it's as if I was being told I wasn't good enough to breastfeed and my daughter would have to live with tongue tie. I'm still under the 'care' of two lactation consultants but I get different information from everyone!

DD has suckled so much better since the surgery but I still need the nipple shields and she's never satisfied after a breastfeed. Typically she is on each breast for 30 minutes and I'll then supplement her with formula at most feeds. This was the advice from the HV and one of my consultants. Obviously they'd prefer if I could express milk but I've never been able to. (Most women in my family who EBF couldn't express either, but their babies thrived.)

I've been reading on the Internet things that seem to contradict my consultant, that I should let baby suckle indefinitely. So this week I tried to do all breastfeeding. Well, she was on for SEVEN FULL HOURS Monday and was never full! I could see the milk coming out of my breasts but eventually I had to give her a bottle and feed myself. Is this what everyone else does? Is that amount of time normal? I keep hearing that babies can feed in 30 minutes flat!!

What should I do? I'm ok with long feeds during the day but even my 'short feeds' take 2-3 hours with a bottle. If she were only ever satisfied I wouldn't mind the length if time. (Well, except for the fact that I can't eat, sleep, have visitors, or leave the house...)

Thanks for any advice!

FossilMum Fri 15-Feb-13 11:36:17

No helpful advice, I'm afraid, but HEAPS of sympathy. Please, please DO NOT feel guilty, inadequate or ashamed. You have been trying extremely hard in extremely trying circumstances. You are suffering pain and lack of sleep. You are wonderful and brave and an amazing mother to try so hard -- and still would be even if you gave up and swapped to entirely bottle feeding today.

Remember that any local mums or consultants who think Bfing is easy surely themselves had it loads easier than you. You are facing serious physical difficulties with your baby and yourself that they most likely did not have to deal with. Your baby needs nutrition from somewhere - but it doesn't necessarily have to be, or all be, directly from you. Yes, the extra antibodies are a bonus, but you have already given her a good headstart with what you've already done, and your health and welfare are important too. You are clearly giving and going to give her what only you can give - plenty of mother-love. That is what is going to matter most of all in her life in 1,5, 10, 20 years time.

(Speaking her as someone whose son mangled my nipples like a little vampire. I cried continuously from pain throughout 1.5hour feeds - that seemed long to me, never mind 7 hours - I eventually had thrush diagnosed after 2.5 weeks…I cried when the HV ordered my to mixed-feed at 2.5 weeks, felt inadequate, like I supposedly wasn't trying hard enough despite feeling like my boobs were on fire. I never managed to dump the nipple shields, but did keep up mixed feeding for 5 months - but we were able to alternate breast and bottle, rather than topping up, so could go out when a bottle was due. I seriously doubt I'd've managed what you're doing. DS flatly refused to continue breastfeeding after 5 months - I felt terribly rejected - but TBH, after the initial 'mourning', it was a relief. No more bleeding or blanched-white nipples (I think I also had Raynaud's of the nipple), and I didn't have to face his newly emerging teeth. Then we settled down to a decent life when we could actually go on outings and see things and have fun together. Looking back now at photos of how skinny he was at 3 weeks, and how our life improved after I got the thrush medication and started mixed feeding and then bottle feeding only, it was the right thing to do in our particular circumstances. Yes, being someone who could discreetly and happily breastfeed in public while holding a conversation with a playgroup mum would have been wonderful, but it was not to be for us. He's 5 now, and it just doesn't matter any more.

One possible help, actually - all the MWs and HVs had different advice, but one claimed that the way to avoid squashed nipples was to position the baby so the nipple was pointing to the top back of his mouth. Turned out my nipples point down and outwards, so the standard holds weren't suitable - I settled to a strange sideways hold that horrified some of the other MWs but did actually seem to help.

Good luck. Remember you are wonderful.

PeshwariNaan Tue 19-Feb-13 14:12:24

Hi everyone, thanks so much for the support and encouragement. Sorry it's been awhile, I've been trying to sort things out!

I saw my LC at the hospital yesterday and she set me up with a supplemental nursing system to 'speed up feeds'. To be honest I don't see how putting surgical tape and a pipe system to my breast is going to simplify feeding or make life more manageable especially during night feeds... This sort of thing makes me want to bottle feed!

Oh and tt has healed perfectly. My LC suggested tongue exercises for her. She says some women always have to use nipple shields and not to worry about it. Wish I could latch her on to my breast but at least she's getting milk directly with the shields.

She suggested I go along to some BFing cafes in the area but I'm not sure when I'll have the time. It takes ages to get out of the house not to mention the problems of showering and dressing. Maybe if things get better I can try this.

I purchased the Spectra 3, received it yesterday and it's much better than my manual pump! I managed 4 oz in three sessions, enough for most of a night feed. Even though I feel like this leaves less time in the day, at least I can give baby more breast milk at night. So my pattern during the day is feed baby at breast for however long she stays on, ff if she wants it, pump for 15-20 mins, start over.

I still don't know what I'm doing and life hasn't got easier. It's a beautiful day today and we're stuck inside pumping/ ff/ bfing. I want to be in the park with her or at least visit family. Is this going to get better? Will I ever be able to breast feed exclusively?

Anyway, I've taken some of the excellent advice on here and hope we can muddle through for another month or two somehow. She's 6 wks today.

CelticPromise Tue 19-Feb-13 16:33:38

I'm sorry you're still having a tough time Peshwari. I think the logic behind the supplemental feeding system is that the baby gets milk at the breast, even if it's formula, so they associate it with full tummy and get all the other BF benefits, but it sounds like a huge faff. If it's not working for you don't worry about it.

Sounds like you are on a tough schedule. Does she ever latch and feed well? Would you be confident to not top up after a good breastfeed? Gradual reduction in the top ups could get you back to breast only.

Re. BF cafes, I volunteer at a BF drop in in my area, and you can get one to one support there, have feeds observed by BF counsellors etc. So I think it would be a really great place to go for ongoing support, and don't worry about showering or dressing up or anything! Do you have a community helpline in your area? Ours offers home visits that might be an option for you. I don't think there are quick fixes for you, but ongoing support can be very helpful.

One feed at a time! Best wishesthanks

PeshwariNaan Thu 21-Feb-13 20:14:28

Hi Celtic - thank you! I just can't picture myself taping an SNS to my breast in the middle of the night - 3 hour feeds are hard enough.

Baby is still not happy with whatever I'm producing, all the hunger cues are there after every single feed, no matter how long the feed or how frequent. She could be on there every hour of the day solidly and never be full. I'm very disheartened by it all and the fact that I've been working so hard on this 24 hours a day for 6 weeks and I'm still unable to leave the house or have visitors is really depressing me.

I will try looking up helplines, but I feel my baby and I are one of those pairings this just doesn't work for. Sad, but maybe I need to face reality.

The health visitor actually told me today to stop breastfeeding, that I'm too stressed about it. I told her I wanted to go for two more weeks and re-assess, and she strongly suggested I stop now (cutting feeds down). Just one more example of the totally conflicting advice I've been given from every person I talk to. She said she couldn't breastfeed her first but breastfed her second for two years - that it just depends on the baby.

Anyway, thanks everyone for your advice & support, not sure how I'll end up but I'll try to go until she's 8 weeks at least. This is the most confusing situation!

CelticPromise Thu 21-Feb-13 21:11:35

Oh Peshwari. I'm sorry things aren't getting easier for you. I hope you can make a choice you and baby are happy with, whichever way you go.

I've used NCT helpline in the past. I know that in some circumstances they can refer if necessary to a breastfeeding counsellor who will visit you at home. In my area community helpline can also arrange for a peer supporter to visit at home. Sounds like you could benefit from having someone knowledgeable observe a whole feed. You're not in NW London are you??

Have you tried breast compression when feeding? Do you offer both breasts each feed, and go back to the first if necessary? I'm sure you try all this just thinking of ideas. It sounds as though your baby might not be feeding effectively.

I like your idea of a short term target. One feed at a time. Do whatever feels right for you both.

cierzo Sat 02-Mar-13 21:52:03

My baby was born on the 31st and diagnose a few hrs after been born with tongue tie. So far, so good, you will think, but they didn't explain what repercussions we may find. If I had known, I don't leave the hospital until he had the snip done. We were lucky to get an app for this 3 weeks later, but by that point it was very late for my baby to go back into bf. It was horrible to see him frustrated and upset, making me upset and bad about myself.

I contacted the LLL but frankly getting a hospital grade pump and being expressing 8 hrs a day plus trying to put him on the breast with all the screaming and upsetting was far to much for me. Also my milk production was so minimal with my Spectra 3 pump, not even reaching 1ml, than when my baby managed to latch was not enough for him, he is a big boy. So I actally felt realive when I dediced to give up.

Good luck with all, but I do recommend you to get the tongue tie check out properly. All the best whatever you decide do, but never, never beat yourself up, you're done a great job considering the circunstances and whoever says different is an idiot.

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