In May 2012 I gave birth to my first child in a birthing centre of a hospital. A beautiful baby girl, who came out wrinkled and bright eyed. I pulled her straight onto my chest, where she didn’t leave for hours. She wanted to feed so I put her to my breast and we worked together to try and get her to latch. It was tricky and a bit awkward, which nobody really tells you is going to happen, you just expect it to work. Once she latched she fed for a while then went to sleep.
She fed often through the day, but night two was long. She just wanted to feed and feed, which nobody tells you is going to happen either! By this time it was agony. My nipples were raw, I was exhausted and just wanted to cry and sleep. A midwife came in to check through the night. She told me it was normal to have some pain and her latch looked fine.
Things did not improve at home. Through the day I was able to distract myself from the pain, but I would dread nights. I cried through feeds, it was like putting my nipple into a tiny, adorable little sharks mouth. I nicknamed her piranha.
I tried nipple sheilds which didn’t do a whole lot for the pain because my nipples were already cracked and blistered.
I went to the hospital to see a lactation consultant who also told me her latch looked fine. She couldn’t see a tongue tie and she could poke her tongue out so there couldn’t be one.
By 4 weeks my nipples had healed quite a bit and by 6 weeks the pain was bearable, but it never went away. By around 12 months I had learned more about feeding and ties, I started to suspect Daisy had a posterior tongue tie. The only way to get it fixed was to get her put under GA, and with painful feeding being the only issue I was not willing to do that. I breastfed Daisy till I fell pregnant and she slowly weaned. She was 3 years old.
September 2015 I gave birth to Anabelle at home, with my partner and Daisy in the pool with me. The first question Daisy asked was “is there milk in your boobies now?” I laughed and explained colostrum to her.
Anabelle was born hungry, and being more practiced this time I was able to help her latch faster and in a more comfortable position. The moment she latched I felt the familiar pain, which grew instead of easing through the feed. I was not willing to go through another 3 years of painful feeding so I called an IBCLC who came on day 3. She diagnosed Anabelle with a posterior tie and a class 4 upper lip tie. She looked at Daisy too and confirmed the PTT as well as a class 3 ULT.
I went to the hospital to see if a paediatrician could snip Ana’s tie. She told me she couldn’t because it wasn’t severe enough. My nipples told a different story!
It would have to be lasered. The only place in Adelaide that could do it weren’t able to fit her in for 2 months. I didn’t want to be in agony for that long so I searched Australia wide for someone who could do it sooner.
We flew to Sydney when she was 11 days old and got both ties revised. It was awful. 11 years with my partner and I’ve never seen him cry like that. The guilt we felt was intense, but I do feel as though it was necessary. I had tried expressing and bottle feeding her, but her lip tie prevented her from being able to get a proper seal around the teat, so she swallowed more air than milk.
The pain for me eased after the release, but her wind pain intensified. We did chiro and CST, both of which were meant to help. Nothing seemed to ease it. I eventually went on an elimination diet and basically just ate sweet potato and chicken for 2 weeks then slowly reintroduced foods one by one to find the culprits.
She is now 3 months old and we’re battling an over supply and forceful let-down, but her latch is beautiful when she isn’t choking on my milk!
Breastfeeding was the only option for me. I’d never even considered doing it differently. It hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world, but it could have been much harder.
To me it’s just another aspect of parenting, and parenting is never easy! But it is rewarding. Breastfeeding is such a deep part of the way I parent through early childhood, that I would be lost without it. It’s how I give comfort to my child, nourishment, connection. It forces me to have down-time in a busy day. It makes me sit and stare at my baby and forget the million other things that need doing. I thank this breastfeeding relationship for giving me these moments, moments that might have gone by the wayside as I get caught up in a busy life. Feeding my girls just feels like the most natural thing in the world to me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.