Earlier in June I was invited to attend the Medela Mums Morning Tea at the Pregnancy, Babies and Children Expo in Brisbane. The event was hosted by Medela Australia and Kids Business, and was a great opportunity to bring together some lovely bloggers from around Brisbane and surrounds.
During the event, Medela’s educator Katie shared with us some interesting facts about breastfeeding… some of which I was unaware of. Katie is a lactation consultant and what was most wonderful about her stance on breastfeeding was how important it is to be supportive of all situations, whether a mother plans to breastfeed exclusively, pump, mix feed or formula feed. She acknowledged the very different circumstances of every mother and the fact there is no right or wrong combination.
As someone who always intended on breastfeeding, I never had too much pressure of health staff promoting ‘breast is best’, however for some it simply is not an option due to a lack of supply, health complications or various other reasons and I can only imagine how frustrating and upsetting it could be.
What is important is a happy and healthy mother and baby, both emotionally and physically. Personally I believe it is important to consider that things do not always go to plan.
My first breastfeeding experience with our eldest daughter started out bumpy. She did not breastfeed for around 24 hours, needing to be fed via syringe during that time. Then due to both our inexperience, the first few weeks were a painful blur of cracked nipples, infections and other various dramas. I still remember the agony of breastfeeding in those early days. Cracked nipples are agonising! But with a little help from a lactation consultant, we got our latch sorted out and she breastfed right up until 22 months… stopping that final night feed only because I was pregnant again.
This time around has been far more challenging due to circumstances outside of my control.
My second baby was born with a mild tongue-tie so while she latched on for a feed within 10 minutes of birth, it was only a couple of days in when the cracked nipple hell returned. Due to her inability to stretch her tongue beyond her lip, she is unable to ‘cup’ the nipple the way she needs to and therefore her latch is shallow and she needs to be adjusted continuously because she slips off.
The other difficulty with the tongue tie and breastfeeding is that it is really hard work. The extra effort needed to get milk leaves her exhausted and she often falls asleep mid feed. This means waking a few minutes later still hungry and unsatisfied usually.
No fun for either of us because I end up with sore, stinging nipples and she ends up struggling to fill her little stomach, so as a result I have needed to pump most of the feeds in these first few weeks. And I can definitely say I am relieved to have my Medela Swing electric breast pump for this purpose. It’s a great pump and has been our saviour during this time. Bottle feeds were far easier on our little princess, without needing such effort to get the milk she needed.
Pumping also helped me maintain my milk supply as the tongue tie and breastfeeding issues were resulting in some reductions in my supply early on. I felt I wasn’t satisfying her need, which is interesting since we learnt during the Medela Morning Tea that a large percentage of mothers stop breastfeeding due to the belief they do not have enough milk.
Thankfully in the case of our daughter, her tongue-tie was mild and all she needed was a quick and simple procedure from a GP who specialises in neonatal tongue and lip ties. While it is a short procedure requiring no anaesthetic or preparation, it is still a troubling experience for a parent, since they have to snip the skin that connects the tongue to the mouth. But over before you know it. There were more tears from me than from her, and then she fed and went to sleep.
What is troubling is only one midwife noticed the tongue-tie following birth. If she had not mentioned it, we would have been struggling along with no idea why. Sometimes a lack of diagnosis of the issue can be enough to make someone stop. We never would have had any idea otherwise!
Here are some signs of tongue-tie in infants from the Australian Breastfeeding Association Website:
- nipple pain and damage
- the nipple looks flattened after breastfeeding
- you can see a compression/stripe mark on the nipple at the end of a breastfeed
- the baby keeps losing suction while feeding and sucks in air
- the baby makes a clicking sound when feeding
- the baby fails to gain weight
- the baby cannot poke his tongue out beyond his gum or lips
- his tongue cannot move sideways
- the tip of his tongue may be notched or heart-shaped when he cries
- he may readily gag
- the tip may look flat or square instead of pointed.
You can find more information about tongue-tie, lip-tie and other breastfeeding challenges on the ABA website. Lactation consultants can also be an amazing source of support and assistance when experiencing challenges with breastfeeding. They are often available in community health centres, hospitals or privately, giving you plenty of options of where to seek help if needed. There are also some amazing resources on the Medela website to help you in your breastfeeding (or bottle-feeding) journey.
It just goes to show that even when you’ve breastfed before with success, sometimes circumstances occur to bring new challenges to make it difficult or even impossible sometimes to breastfeed so it is important to keep an open mind and be supportive of other mothers. We are all on the same team!
As an extra bonus, Medela have provided a $50 voucher for me to giveaway to one of my lovely readers, which you can put towards your own Medela breast pump or purchase from the huge range of other products available in the online store.
For your chance to win, leave a comment telling us what your must have baby item was (or if you’re not a parent, what you think it will be).
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*This giveaway is only open to Australian residents. The giveaway is skill based and the best answer will be chosen as the winner. The winner will have 3 days to respond before the prize transfers to the next in line.