Learning “What’s Normal” in Breastfeeding and Following Your Motherly Instincts

“In the beginning, breastfeeding my daughter was a challenge.  We both had a traumatic birth experience which led to complications getting breastfeeding started.  We had several lactation consultants try to help, but we were still struggling after leaving the hospital.  I had always been told that it was normal for things to hurt in the beginning and felt I just needed to try harder to get her latched on correctly and that would solve the problem.

Well, weeks went by and my nipples started feeling better, but my daughter was still having issues with nursing.  She was choking on my milk and was getting a lot of air while nursing, leading to lots of burps, hiccups, and spit up while nursing.  I had a gut feeling that something was wrong, but I kept hearing everything we were going through was normal and that I just had an oversupply and a strong letdown which was leading to the issues. My daughter’s weight gain was good so the doctors and midwives weren’t concerned.

Learning "What's Normal" in Breastfeeding and Following Your Motherly InstinctsSo we kept on going with the promise that things would get better as time went by.  Around three months old my daughter was still having the same symptoms. I still had a lot of milk and a strong letdown, which was making me feel uncomfortable and my daughter was having problems taking it all in.  I finally decided to go in to see my WIC peer counselor, Lyssa, to get her advice.  I had recently been doing some reading about lip and tongue ties and after looking at my daughter suspected that she had both.  Lyssa said she couldn’t diagnose that condition, but gave me a referral list of local providers to contact and a manual pump and some milk savers to help me manage my oversupply while I found a provider to evaluate my daughter for lip and/or tongue tie.

At four months old my daughter was finally diagnosed with a lip and tongue tie by a pediatric dentist and I felt so relieved that I finally had an answer and knew I wasn’t crazy for thinking we were having issues.  However, despite the diagnosis I was still nervous about going through with the procedure.  I perceived that things were getting better with nursing and didn’t know if the revision was necessary at that point.  So we declined it and kept on nursing.

More months went by and my daughter started getting more teeth.  It was at that point I really noticed just how shallow her latch was and how it felt like she was just chewing on my nipple to get the milk out instead of drawing the nipple back into her mouth like she was supposed to.  She was also having some issues eating solids.  After continuing to research more about lip and tongue ties I realized how important it was for baby to have a good latch for not just nursing success, but for future oral health.  So I finally decided it was time to get my daughter’s lip and tongue tie fixed to help avoid future issues like speech, dental, and ENT problems, just to name a few.

At 9 months old Ava had the procedure to remove her ties, which was quick and not too painful.  I also took her in weekly to see a speech language pathologist to help her learn to use her tongue properly not only for nursing, but for eating solids and speech.  Her latch improved tremendously in just three months of therapy.  She also started eating solids better and was beginning to talk a lot around that time.  I always wonder now if her speech would have been delayed or problematic if we would not have revised her tongue tie.  At 20 months old, my daughter is still breastfeeding with no plans to wean any time soon.

It took us a long time to get a groove, but with help from my peer counselor and other breastfeeding moms we figured out what was causing issues and were able to have a breastfeeding success story to share with other moms.  It’s because of that journey that I myself have decided to help other moms with breastfeeding with the long-term goal of becoming an IBCLC.  Support is so important for a breastfeeding mom and the WIC peer counselors and staff are just another great resource to have in your corner.”

Kristen, Kyle, TX WIC