Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My BFing story

I am speaking at a Ped conference re: tongue tie next week and they asked me to write up a personal story that can be given to mom's . . . this is what I wrote

When I was pregnant my husband asked me if I was going to breastfeed. I told him “no.” Eww! Breastfeeding was gross. I wasn’t breastfed, breasts were sexual, and I didn’t want to be “stuck” with my baby ALL the time. My husband asked me to do some research. I went to a breastfeeding event at my birth center, read a few books, and attended classes at the breastfeeding center. After I learned about the health benefits to me, the benefits to the baby, and the overall science associated with “natural parenting” I was convinced to try for 3 months.

When Ella was born, it all changed. Nursing just felt right. Between the hormones, the support of my family, my education about the benefits, and the closeness I felt to the baby, I realized I was not only willing, but wanted, to nurse Ella past three months. I committed myself to a year and hope to make it to two years.

However, our nursing relationship began with a rocky start. I had done so much research and was promised nursing would not hurt. Well, within 2 days, my nipples were badly damaged. I went to my birth center for help and they sent me to the Breastfeeding Center. I was happy to pay my fee because I figured they would help me. I burst into tears when I was told that Ella had a tight frenulum but that I needed to wait a week or two to see if it fixed itself.

Eleanor had a posterior frenulum. This is also called a tongue tie. This means that she has some extra skin under her tongue. It made if difficult for her to keep her tongue in the appropriate location for nursing. Instead, she would bite me to nurse. Posterior means that the skin is far back in her mouth and probably the most difficult to detect.

Ella’s latch looked perfect from the outside. Her lips spread, her neck was back, and her body was facing me. But inside she would slide her mouth back on my nipple. A lactation consultant had come to my home and when we turned her upside down to get a picture, her tongue made a perfect heart shape (which is what typically happens with severe tongue tie).
I had to exclusively pump to protect my supply and realized that for the past few days I had been delaying Ella’s feeds because of my pain. We fed her with a syringe, she gained weight, and was very happy.

After talking to several moms and doing a great deal of research, I decided to get her frenulum clipped. I took her to the pediatrician who told me babies as young as Ella could not have the procedure done. I went home, printed the articles I had been reading, and brought them to her. She finally wrote me a referral to the ENT. I had to sob on the phone to finally get an appointment sooner than 3 months away. They saw me that day.

The procedure was simple. My husband held Ella on his lap, the doctor used q-tips to hold her mouth open, and he snipped the extra skin with a pair of scissors. She cried the whole time, which was hard, but did not cry louder when they clipped her tongue than when they opened her mouth. This proved to me the procedure did not hurt her. She nursed right away and I was able to put the pump away. It was the best thing we could have done. The procedure really preserved our nursing relationship and I am so glad we did it.

At about three months, I started to have pain again. It started off slowly and then one day she refused to nurse unless I was lying down. She began crying frequently and lost weight. Unfortunately, Ella’s tongue had scarred and re-tightened. We had to have it re-cut. This time, it was cut much further back and things worked perfectly again. It is rare to have to re-cut the tongue and it was stressful. But, I do not regret either procedure at all. Both allowed Eleanor and I to continue a wonderful nursing relationship.

On the way to the procedure, I burst into tears. I confessed to my husband that I felt like I was getting surgery preformed on my baby for my own comfort. He reminded me that I was making it easier for her to eat, possible for me to feed her naturally at the breast, and could prevent her from future speech impediments. Again, I am so glad that she was able to have this procedure done. She is so happy, is so fat, and my body feels great everytime I feed my baby.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad it is working out, I think there is a strange catch 22 in BF circles where they never say how hard it can be because they don't want to scare people away who are on the fence. Then people end up being really surprised and having a difficult time finding support. It's so great you have been able to power through such rocky times, and it sounds like you have a fantastic partner!