Yes, the title says breastfeeding. If it makes you squeamish, squirmish or giggly, you probably have no business being here. Carry on!
When I breastfed my oldest daughter, I had no idea what I was doing. There was bleeding, cracking and pain involved. Lots of pain. People just said “breastfeeding hurts.” Had I known better, I would have said, hmmm…this bleeding thing probably isn’t normal, right? And the fact that I have to breath harder than I breathed during labor while breastfeeding her, that isn’t good, right?
But, I didn’t know better, and I was sort of the first of most of our friends to have a baby, so I didn’t have anybody to turn to. Fortunately, a friend from church had a baby that was a lazy latcher came and helped us and things started looking up.
Then came babies number 2 and 3. They were so easy to nurse and I didn’t have any issues. In fact, E nursed until she was 16 months old and likely stopped because there wasn’t much of a supply left as I was pregnant with B.
Six months after stopping nursing E, B was born, so I figured it would be a cake walk.
Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong!
From the very first time she nursed on the ambulance ride over to the hospital, everything just seemed off. She wouldn’t open her mouth incredibly wide. And once I did get her latched on, it was like she was chewing on my breast. Her lips weren’t flanging out and her jaw motion was all wrong, too. In fact, she made a clicking noise with her mouth. That was what finally set off the warning bells. Oh, and it hurt. A LOT.
One of her very first nursing sessions. I took a picture (and video) because I thought it looked all wrong.
I thought maybe it was just because it had been a while and I quickly forgot. I asked the nurse at the hospital and of course she said it was fine. At that time, I didn’t consult with a location consultant. I wanted to get the heck out of the hospital.
We got home and the pain persisted…and the weird mouth clicking…and the shallow latch. It wasn’t good at all. Also, when she was done breastfeeding, instead of my nipple looking symmetrical, it looked beveled like a brand new tube of lipstick.
Fortunately, I have a neighbor that is a certified lactation consultant (CLC). I could have called my insurance to find one and try to get in, but it was during the new year and she is two houses down! I gave her a call and she came to our rescue.
She came over to the house and watched our breastfeeding session. She agreed about the shallow latch, and the weird clicking. She also felt in B’s mouth and confirmed my tongue-tie suspicions. The CLC also said B has a high palate which was likely the cause of the bad latch. She suggested trying a nipple shield. So I bought one and tried it. B hated it. Every time I tried to use it, she would bite me. In case you are wondering, biting without teeth still hurts.
Here’s where I should tell you this is all our experience and of course, you should check with your CLC, your pediatrician/doctor and all of your people!
Breastfeeding is super important to me, so quitting wasn’t an option. But, the pain was almost too bearable (and we are talking about pain just a couple days after a completely unmedicated home birth!) and I was crying every time I had to feed her. Like I was dreading her being hungry because I knew how much it was going to hurt. I would start sweating at the thought of it.
At the CLC’s suggestion, I called a pediatric ENT in our area. They said they couldn’t get us in for two weeks. I plead my case, told them I would come in whenever they could see me. The wiggled and got us in the very next day!
With a date and time in mind, it helped me get through the pain and discomfort.
The appointment came and I took my little several day old baby to the ENT. I explained the problems we were having and he confirmed my suspicions as well. He explained that he would numb the area with a topical gel under her tongue. He also had me put some in my mouth so I could feel it. It worked very well! We waited a couple minutes to make sure it was numb, then he used a small device to keep her tongue from moving and gently snipped a tiny part under her tongue. She didn’t even cry! There was a tiny bit of blood and then is stopped bleeding right away.
I know it’s hard to tell, but she had more of my breast in her mouth and was nursing so much better with much less pain for me.
Immediately, I nursed her and noticed there was a lot less discomfort. She opened her mouth bigger and was able to get more of my breast in her mouth. She didn’t click anymore and she almost seemed surprised when nursing.
This isn’t the solution for everybody and I made sure to do my research and try to get help from anybody that could help me.