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Breastfeeding: Don’t Give Up!

Posted Nov 01 2010 12:00am

While my little one and I have a pretty good breastfeeding relationship going now, things were pretty rough at the beginning for us. I am writing today’s blog to encourage Moms who are having problems nursing to keep going and don’t give up: my daughter didn’t nurse until she was 5 weeks old.

I knew from the start that I wanted to breastfeed. Let’s face it, the propaganda around breastfeeding is pretty powerful – best thing you can do for your infant, acquired immunity, higher IQ points, and all that. I bought in hook, line, and sinker. So I took a breastfeeding class before the birth, and then eagerly anticipated the birth of my baby so I could actually do it. Well, nothing was as I expected or desired.

Aria’s latch was very painful – barracuda-like, to put it mildly. I cried every time she got on the breast – I told my husband it felt like she had a mouth full of teeth. I don’t know if he really believed me, and I felt further invalidated when I went to Aria’s pediatrician to check her out. The doctor said I was doing something wrong, and that Aria’s tongue and mouth seemed fine. I felt all alone, unable to describe the sensation and unable to get anyone to believe me that there was something going on with the baby.

So, I hired lactation consultant Cindy Howard to come to my house, and she said to me the most empowering thing anyone could have said to me that night: “If it feels wrong to you, then it’s wrong.” Wow! That took a load off of me. She also said that Aria’s tongue did not come forward enough to curl under the breast and cup it, and recommended that I see Sylvia Boyd , an occupational therapist and lactation consultant. I drove all the way to Hayward to see her, and our first visit was a miraculous success. She bounced Aria up and down on a ball and worked with her tongue to coax it to “come forward,” and Aria breastfed with me successfully for 45 minutes! Fueled with newfound enthusiasm, I went home and practically tore off my clothes in my excitement to nurse her on the other side, and lo and behold, we could not do it. Aria’s latch went back to painful, and I went back to supplementing her with formula.

The second visit with Sylvia, she told us Aria might have a “posterior tongue-tie.” This meant that the frenulum that attached her tongue to the bottom of her mouth needed to be released to allow her tongue to come forward and give her more freedom of movement. Apparently this condition also affects snoring and speech later in life. So we drove 90 miles round-trip to Oakland to get her tongue-tie released by a pediatric ENT when Aria was just 9 days old. The ENT, Dr. Wesman, told us that the procedure was less dangerous than it was for us to drive from Sunnyvale to Oakland, and so we agreed to have it done (I had to leave the room while a nurse held her head and my husband held her arms and legs – I could not take my baby girl crying like that).

Once her tongue tie was released, I expected breastfeeding to get easier…but AGAIN, things did not work out as planned. Stay tuned for Part 2….

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