This post is a pretty personal and in-depth about my experience with breastfeeding, lactation specialists, a pediatric dentist and pumping. No one really talks about this stuff and as a first time mom I think it's pretty important to know your options when your baby has a difficult time latching and you want to continue breastfeeding.
The first time Joshua latched, it hurt. It didn't feel natural and beautiful like all the commercials and media portray. It was painful. I didn't enjoy it. Yeah, I said it.
Joshua continued to latch and it continued to hurt while I was at the hospital. I think I saw about 3 different lactation specialists at Memorial Hermann Hospital and they all told me something different. They all taught me different holds. They all told me he would learn to latch. They all spent about 5 minutes with me. Not enough time. It is definitely understandable as I was not the only patient there with a baby but it didn't help me or Joshua.
Joshua was weighed the next day to see if he lost weight (as most babies do after birth) but he didn't lose weight. In fact, he gained weight. Yet, whenever he latched it was still painful.
As we left the hospital 2 days after birth, I was given a nipple shield and was on my way.
The next couple of days I was an emotional wreck as I continued to breastfeed and it continued to hurt. I knew I wanted to keep breastfeeding for nutritional purposes and he wasn't losing weight so I knew formula wasn't needed. It was difficult to bond with Joshua the way I had imagined I would as my nipples were SCREAMING at me to stop breastfeeding. It made me sad.
All the nipple cream in the world didn't help. My nipples started to bleed but I continued to breastfeed. He got full feedings as he was still continuing to gain weight. I continued to use the nippled shield. Yet, the pain remained.
On the 4th day, we had our first appointment with our super awesome pediatrician. She asked about nursing and helped Joshua latch but I told her the extreme pain I was feeling. She referred me to a lactation specialist. The same lactation specialist my friend, Lauren, told me about. I decided to call her that same day.
The lactation specialist, Leah, came to my house a couple of days later. She watched me nurse, weighed Joshua, taught me some tummy time stretches and oral motor exercises. She made me feel comfortable and was extremely knowledgable. Leah told me it seemed as if Joshua had a tongue tie because there was little range of motion in his tongue. I was pretty devastated but at least I knew that breastfeeding was still an option!
Leah referred me to Dr.Ghandi at West U Pediatric Dentistry to verify that Joshua had a lip tie. Well, it turns out he had a lip and tongue tie. Dr. Ghandi explained what it meant to have a lip and tongue tie and the process of a frenectomy. The possibility of future issues because of the lip tie and tongue tie outweighed my fears. My husband and I decided to continue with the procedure the same day and within 10 minutes, Joshua had his lip tie and tongue tie corrected with a water laser procedure. It was awful. I could hear him crying at the top of his lungs from the room across the hall! I cried. I felt terrible. I second guessed my decision. Afterwards, I nursed him and he fell asleep. Dr.Ghandi and the staff were patient and super professional. I would recommend Dr.Ghandi time and time again. Looking back, it was the best decision we could have made
I had a new set of oral motor exercises to do with Joshua every 6 hours for 6-8 weeks. I felt the difference in his nursing. After the 2nd week, I didn't need the nipple shield anymore. My nipples healed and he was able to latch perfectly.
Although the first two weeks of breastfeeding were absolutely horrible, I didn't want to give up. After the first month, the bonding that I so desperately wanted from nursing happened. I love breastfeeding now. Although, I'm not too comfortable nursing in front of others or in public (even with a cover). That's just me. For the moments I am in front of others, I feed Joshua the expressed milk from pumping. I try to drink a lot of water during the day to produce enough milk to bottle feed him but some days I don't. I purchased lactation cookies, brownies and lemonade from Milky Mama and it helped my milk supply tremendously the first time I tried them . I was able to build a little stash. I'll blog about my experience with Milky Mama soon.
Breastfeeding isn't always a natural thing and it's okay! I was able to get additional help because it is what I wanted (emphasis on I). Fed babies are the best babies mommies!! Don't let anyone shame you into breastfeeding or shame you for formula feeding. Do what is best for you, your baby and your family!