Thursday, September 13, 2018

My breastfeeding experience


My journey with breastfeeding has only been 4 months. But I believe I have learned a lot in those 4 months, and want to share with y'all how my experience has been thus far. Now, I know a lot of bloggers typically post about their breastfeeding experience way before 4 months PP (or at least the ones I have read), but I decided to wait so long because I was using a nipple shield to feed Luca. And I honestly at times felt like I was not really breastfeeding. Or enjoying the experience entirely. I felt like I was "fake breastfeeding." Even though he was attached to my breast, the shield was in the way of him getting full contact. So at that point in time, I felt like I couldn't really give any good advice when it came to breastfeeding.

Now I know I would post nursing friendly clothes and items, but it was designed to help y'all and I truly hope it did. It was always so difficult for me to do those posts because I would have to use a nipple shield, and that itself is challenging itself. Plus adding trying to have him latch and take pictures in public at the same time could be really stressful. But I did it. And I did nurse Luca in public every where we went but it took me forever to get situated before I got him to latch.

But, let's rewind to the very beginning, before Luca was born. I always had the mindset that I would breastfeed no matter what. My husband would always say to me, What if it doesn't work? What if something happens and you can't breastfeed? He has heard from so many people the complications and struggles that had with breastfeeding, and reasons that didn't continue nursing their child. But I'm very strong willed, and I told him I don't care what it takes... I will breastfeed our child. (Now I am not by any means trying to mom shame anyone if you formula feed your child. A fed baby is best. This is just my journey and what I had my mind set for). That being said, I took a prenatal breastfeeding class with the lovely Ashley Georgakopolos who runs Genesis Lactation because I wanted to make sure I had all the correct knowledge about breastfeeding, and it would be a successful outcome. 

Thank goodness I took that class because she honestly gave me so much knowledge that I did not know previously. And help me defy between fact and fiction of what I have heard from others about breastfeeding. 

But anyway, she taught us the different BF positions, how newborns automatically know how to find your boob, how to achieve a proper latch, different mouth ties and what to look for, and so much more. I felt like after leaving that class BF was going to be breeze for me, and I wouldn't have any trouble because I thought I knew exactly what to do. Boy was I wrong! 

Fast forward to Luca being born, I instantly wanted to do skin to skin. And I was so thankful I was able to do that right away. They let me nurse him as soon as possible, but he couldn't get a good latch because my nipples weren't stay hard so they handed me a nipple shield. And once I had the nipple shield he nursed like a champ. So I didn't think anything of it at the time. Well, after that first feeding he wasn't latching the greatest and would just scream and cry. And all I could do was self expressed into a spoon and then used a syringe to collect all of the colostrum into it. And that is how I feed Luca for the first two days from a syringe. I was very patient through this whole process because I remembered my LC told me that it could take up to 2 weeks for your milk to come in, and to not to worry since your newborn's stomach is very very tiny. After two days my milk did come in full force, and Luca finally started latching again but I still had to use a nipple shield.

Luca's first doctor's visit was three days after he was born, and the morning of the doctor visit I noticed that his tongue looked to have a tongue tie. So I mentioned to the doctor we saw that day, and another doctor in the practice clipped it right then and there. I figured well that is probably why he can't latch without the nipple shield, so once it was clipped they told me feed him and see if he will latch without the shield. Well he didn't, so I just fed him in the office with the shield and told myself I will try at home later. Well once I got home, I tried a couple of times without the shield and he still wouldn't latch. So I just told myself I guess this is how I am going to feed my child for now on with a nipple shield. And I was okay with that because like I said I wanted to breastfeed him no matter what.

Almost three months PP came and went, and I decided one day that the nipple shield just needs to go, and I was tired of using it. Like I said above, I was breastfeeding in public, and using a nipple shield just make it so much more complicated. Plus Luca was getting bigger and was super frigidity, so getting him and the nipple shield situated was a work out. I was usually sweating by the time I got him to latch, and my hair was always a wreck because I was trying to juggle a nursing cover on top of all of that.

Tongue/Lip Ties 

So I contacted my IBCLC   because I finally let myself ask for help instead of trying to figure it out by myself. So Ashley came to rescue and reassured me of all my questions and concerns about my breastfeeding experience thus far.

When she arrived at my home, I told her that Luca did have a tongue tie but they clipped it after a couple days of him being born, but I also mentioned to her that he may have a lip tie as well. But the doctor I mentioned it to said it wasn't anything and that most babies have some sort of lip tie but as long as he is eating and growing just fine it is nothing to worry about. Which Luca was growing like he should so the doctor blew it off. Well Ashley took one look, and confirmed that he did in fact have a lip tie, and it needed to be removed ASAP! Not only will it cause problems with latching now, but can cause other issues later done the road the older he gets. During our session, we once again couldn't get Luca to latch without the shield. She told me this was normal as he is very use to the shield now, and it's going to be work to break him from that habit. She gave me pointers on as to how to get him off of it. My IBCLC also told that it could take up to 2 weeks to break him from it so I needed to mentally prepare myself because I just mentioned it can be a challenge to break him from it.

Now keep in mind, the reason I thought he had some sort of mouth tie is because every time I tried to break him from and he latched a little bit without the shield, it would hurt so bad to the point I had to curl my toes in excruciating pain. At first, I thought well maybe it is because I haven't nursed him really without the shield so maybe my nipples aren't use to it. But then I realized in the prenatal class she told us it shouldn't hurt, and if it does hurt then something is wrong.

So my IBCLC did confirm that he a lip tie, but she also confirmed that his tongue tie reattached. I repeat his tongue reattached. Like what the heck? I didn't even know that was possible. But the doctor also didn't tell me that I had to do exercises to the area for 3 weeks so it doesn't reattached. Like are you kidding me how do you forget to tell someone that?

Also side note: do you see the indention in Luca's head in the picture above? Yes.. Me too! That is actually caused by him not being able to latch properly from the mouth ties. And yes my IBCLC told me that. Not the freakin doctor. I just give all the praise to Ashley for real. She also told me because of his tongue tie he is not able to allow for the milk to always go done the right way. So that explains why he was spitting up a lot.. I mean a lot of his food because he wasn't able to keep it down. So seriously, after he had the procedures done. He rarely spits up anymore. 

But anyway, this time I went to one of the specialist that my IBCLC referred me too, and set up a consultation with them to evaluate his mouth ties. On evaluation that instantly confirmed he did in fact have a tongue tie and lip tie. So I told them to go ahead and do the procedure because I knew it had to be done. Now some doctors do a laser and some use some sort of device and clip it. They honestly did it so fast, and I wasn't really looking so I have no idea which technique that they performed. But either way they warned us there would be a lot of blood. And they were right. I had to feed him instantly afterwards to help stop the bleeding, and I tried to see if he would latch without but he was so upset that I just used the shield again.

Recovery from procedure

Pictures below are of his before and after the procedure. And wow! The big difference just amazes me.

Look how far he can open his mouth now. Before his mouth was so restricted which caused him from having difficulties latching. The picture below shows the different in his upper lip.

After the procedure, it was time to recover and hopefully move towards having successful breastfeeding experience. We were advised to do the recommend exercises for 3 weeks, at least 5x a times a day. 

*I am not going to put the exact exercises we did for Luca on here, because I am not a specialist and I am only telling y'all that there are exercises you need to do. That being said, I would highly suggest seeing a specialist if you have any concern that your child has any type of tie. 

My IBCLC warned me that the third day would be the worst, which I honestly didn't believe her. The first two days weren't bad at all. But like she said the third and fourth day was the worst. Luca was so upset all day long, and wouldn't latch at all even with the nipple shield. So for my sanity I gave him a bottle which thankfully he took. So on a near breakdown, I had to call my lactation consultant for comfort and advice because I was about to loose my mind. 

She told me the reason it was worse these days is because the areas are starting to bruise which makes complete sense. So I started giving him Tylenol to help with the pain. Once I gave him that he was back to nursing again but only with a nipple shield still. After a week of heeling, I started really working with him to not have to use the nipple shield. So every time, I would see if he would latch without it, and if he didn't I would use the shield again. But half way through I would remove the shield. And if he got so upset, I would put the shield back on. This went on for almost three weeks and until finally he latched for a second and I started bawling my eyes out because for a split second I felt like a success and not a failure in the breastfeeding department. (See picture below--I had to document this wonderful/powerful moment). 

{We had a check up at the specialist and he said that everything was healing up nicely, and that the ties should only come back 10% which is not much at all.}

Breastfeeding Success

I sent this picture to my lactation consultant as soon as I took it because it was the first time Luca stayed latched after me taking away the nipple shield. This was at little bit over the three week mark from his procedure. So yes she told me it could take up to 2 weeks to get him weened, but in reality since he was 3 months old when I began to wean him I figured it would take way longer since he was so use to it. So that weekend, we were heading to Charlotte, NC for the TN vs. WVU game. So I continued to do the routine of weaning and by that weekend he was completely off the nipple shield. The whole weekend in Charlotte, I didn't have to use the shield at all. So it took a month to get him completely off of it. But I am so glad he is finally off of it and I no longer have to use it. So now it has been almost two weeks of breastfeeding without a nipple shield, and y'all not once has it hurt. Yes has been sore, and split second had discomfort but not pain. 

So to any of y'all that are struggling with breastfeeding, you got this!! You really do! Our bodies are truly amazing, but get some help way before I did. Because I really want each and every one of you to have an enjoyable breastfeeding experience. My goal is a year to BF by baby, and I can now say I enjoy breastfeeding. And let me tell ya it is so much easier to BF in public!!!!


**Some of y'all sent in questions about BF and mouth ties, so my IBCLC answered them for y'all!! I hope it helps! 

-How did you know your son had a tongue and lip tie? Signs to look for? Luca could only nurse with a shield, so luckily his mother reached out. Baby should have the ability to nurse directly from the mother, and if not, there’s red flag number one. Pain, as in rawness and pinching, feelings of dread upon attachment, is a sign the latch is restricted. It could be something as simple as positioning, but if it doesn’t go away, it’s time to look for ties. Popping and clicking sounds, dimpling cheeks while feeding, and “Maggie Simpson” suckle (shallow, pursing suckling) are signs that you can notice from the outside. -Is breastfeeding supposed to hurt? Pain is one thing, discomfort is another. And she may feel a slight discomfort as they’re getting used to the sensation as well as perfecting comfortable positioning. Positioning is very important, as any space between mom and baby, twisting of the baby, can make a difference between a great latch and a shallow one, an uncomfortable or comfortable one. But if positioning is on point, and restriction of the mouth is preventing a deep latch, the baby is now nipple feeding not breastfeeding- huge difference! That can be very painful when the nipple stays along the ridge of doom (the gums) Pain is not the norm, and there’s another red flag. -How do you know if your baby is getting enough milk? By day 4, your baby should be having six or more wet diapers a day, and several poopy diapers. There’s the first way of telling. What goes in must come out! Watch baby. Baby act relaxed after feeding? Look at his or her hands. Are they still in balled little fists? If so, your baby is resting, but get ready for round two and switch sides to feed again. Are they still this way after feeding from both sides? If so your baby may be struggling to feed efficiently. Cluster feeding is not a sign necessarily that they are not getting enough milk in there with phases of this throughout the first year, but especially at week 2 to off and on through four months of age. Pumping should never be used as a reflection of supply! Your baby is your best reflection. If you need immediate gratification, a Lactation consultant brings a scale to check before and after feeds for number of ounces in! -I have an appointment on Thursday for O to have his tongue tie clipped he will be 14 weeks. Is there anything I need in preparation or to ease his discomfort? Go ahead and look up stretching, and be doing that before the operation if possible! After care is very important, as well, along with continuing those stretches to prevent re-attachment. It is also highly recommended to follow up with the lactation consultant, as revisions are not the fix all, but the step to the right direction. There is a real learning aspect to be aware of, as baby has been nursing incorrectly up to this point of correction. Whether you use infant Tylenol or natural remedies such as Pumpkin butt teething oil, have something ready for both before and after the procedure for pain management. -Could my son’s tongue tie be causing his upset and irritability to nap during the day? Absolutely. Tongue ties are more than just having issues with eating. The tongue rests in the palate/roof of mouth when relaxed, or at least it should. When the tongue is restricted, it is being pulled down to the bottom of the mouth. This usually results in mouth breathing, which has a domino effect on health, but especially with sleep! It’s also causes a buildup in saliva, which gets swallowed, so gas and upset tummies can definitely be a sign.


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