Though we have made it to 14 weeks of breastfeeding, it hasn’t been without its (many) struggles. We had a rough start but breastfeeding my baby is very important to me. However, my dedication is constantly being tested. My daughter is gaining weight on the low end of normal, which is fine because she is also very short, and reassuring because she is surely gaining.
I met with a Lactation Consultant right after my daughter had turned 3 months old because I would love to be able to wean off of the nipple shield. I was also interested in learning ways I could help with her messy eating habits and wondering why she chomps on her pacifier and a bottle nipple when my husband feeds her expressed breastmilk.
The Lactation Consultant (LC) referred us to a pediatrician to evaluate my daughter for tongue and lip tie. The pediatrician diagnosed a posterior tongue tie and clipped it in the office quickly using scissors. My daughter still refused to latch without the nipple shield but nursed immediately after when I put it on. We went home and I expected things would start to improve. They haven’t.
I consulted with another LC to see what sorts of suggestions she had for the nipple shield and if she could figure out why, even after the tongue tie was clipped, my daughter continues to chomp on the bottle and pacifier and leak milk out of the corners of her mouth. This LC said she has never felt a suck quite like my daughter’s. But since she transferred an adequate amount of milk for her age, as determined by a weighed feeding, that she must have figured out a way to successfully eat and get what she needs. She eats in under 10 minutes at the breast and only takes one side every 2-3 hours during the day. She sleeps a long first stretch at night and may wake to eat, if she doesn’t wake then she might sleep 10 hours straight.
The LC asked me if I would stop breastfeeding if we couldn’t wean off of the nipple shield. My answer was that I don’t want to and that I couldn’t really because she can barely drink from a bottle anyway even though she tries. We thought with “practice” she would get better with latching the bottle but for getting one bottle almost every day for 6 weeks has shown very little improvement.
My frustrations are many at this point. Why did no pediatrician catch this as a newborn? Why did the lactation consultant we saw at one week old just throw a nipple shield at us deciding my short nipples were the cause of our latch problems? Is our culture so far removed from breastfeeding that even pediatricians can’t recognize anatomical problems that lead to inefficient latch? Why did they all seem to brush off my concerns of her bottle and pacifier chomping?
I refuse to give up. I refuse to let my daughter remain hungry after she is too tired from trying her best to eat. I refuse to let her suffer from abdominal discomfort from sucking in so much air. I refuse to let my milk supply suffer. I refuse to forgo our breastfeeding relationship. I refuse to just “give it more time” as the stress and discomfort is wearing on both us.
My advice to other breastfeeding Moms out there or Moms who bottle feed and are confused by their baby’s latch is to be your own advocate! Mother’s Intuition is more likely to be right than a professional who spends minimal time with you and your baby. Do your own research and get a second opinion if you do not agree or are uncomfortable with a response.
I have a lot of work to do to get our breastfeeding on track! I hope and pray that one day I can post about how we overcame all of these obstacles and are nursing without any problems.