Pen Pal: Three Rounds With Tongue Tie
Last weekend we shone our spotlight on the fabulous Zoe and The Sling Consultancy. So it seemed perfect to share with you her experience with feeding her three children, and the difficulties she faced. She is one super mama; when faced with adversity she not only prevailed but also helped others along on their own journeys.
Mai was born December 2008, we had attended hospital and NCT antenatal courses and thought breastfeeding would just happen. But a traumatic birth requiring multiple blood transfusions meant I couldn’t hold her for hours after delivery. When it came to feeding she just didn’t latch. Midwives tried helping, shoving my nipple in her mouth like a key in a lock but it wasn't working, I ended up with black and blue bruised nipples. I expressed and we used a syringe to feed her colostrum. One midwife suggested nipple shields so we tried and with the help of a midwife on the high dependency unit she latched and fed. We chose to give some formula as she was very lethargic at 24 hours, we knew to give her 20ml or so and she was immediately more alert and able to try breastfeeding again. We were discharged but feeding didn’t get any better. She lost weight and we were advised to top up so we did, we thought they were the experts. No one explored why she couldn't latch and we didn't think to ask. After a few days I bought a pump and managed to express, she just couldn't access it, so we decided to bottle feed my pumped milk. By three months she was having solely breastmilk. I found a good balance with pumping and started "Pumping Mummies" on Babycentre. I felt alone pumping; in-between, not breastfeeding and not formula feeding, but kind of doing both. For me using breast milk was actually quite easy, Mai had it at room temperature and we simply stored it in a cupboard 1-2 pumps ahead. Over time I learned about tongue tie, many on the board were pumping because of it. I pumped for 21 months only stopping as we went on holiday and I didn’t want to take the pump with us. In advance of our second child I contacted an IBCLC who was a well-known expert on tongue tie and having learned so much in the four years since having Mai I hoped our journey would be different.
Charles was born February 2013; we had immediate skin to skin, I couldn't see anything obvious and he could latch - yes!! This relief was short-lived, by day four my nipples were a bleeding mess and I called the IBCLC, she came out to us and snipped a posterior tie on day seven. In addition, I was experiencing oversupply and vasospasms. Despite plenty of milk he didn't gain weight to the community midwives liking. We decided to give a bottle of breastmilk a day to placate them after being advised to top up. It took a lot of assertiveness to stand our ground but we were confident in our choices. We had one lovely midwife who wasn't as concerned as he was bright eyed and alert etc and she continued to come every three days or so until he was back to birth weight at 28 days. I pumped the excess milk and donated it over 18 months to three families.
Cue a surprise third baby! Charlie was two and half years and was breastfed, he stopped feeding when I was around 20 weeks pregnant. I booked someone I knew locally who was trained to check tongue tie. We met beforehand and discussed our previous experiences. Jude was born January 2016, he was assessed that day and it was confirmed he had a posterior tie. He was latching but it was painful so we saw the same IBCLC as previously and at day four and Jude had it snipped. Feeding improved yet he still took until day 28 to return to birth weight. Having gone through it before we felt more prepared. But then it got worse, he was feeding non-stop, it was hard to manage with two other children - thank goodness for slings! He had another snip at 16 weeks, after which things improved again. I had hoped our journey third time would be easier than before; knowledge is power, we had a plan in place and the snip was completed earlier but it wasn’t any easier. Jude is now 18 months old and breastfed.
I haven’t had straight forward feeding journeys; three rounds with tongue tie but I count every time as a win.
Thank you Zoe for sharing your story. For more information about Zoe visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Instagram. If you would like to share your own story then please get in touch via Your Voice.