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Surviving tongue tie, weight loss and bleeding nips – A successful breastfeeding story - Leanne Doughty


I’d never heard of tongue tie before having my second child, Adam. Shortly after he was born, he had his first feed. My midwives gushed over how amazing his latch was and how long he fed for and I thought…

I’ve nailed it this time! My baby is a natural!


This ‘sunshine and rainbows’ mantra didn’t last long. Later on that day I was curling my toes and half-jokily ranting to my husband about popping Adam back inside. I wasn’t being naïve, I knew at the start of breastfeeding it wasn’t going to feel great, my boobs weren’t exactly used to a mini hoover sucking the life out of them every 20 minutes.


However, I knew enough about breastfeeding to know that it shouldn’t feel like my nips were about to fall off – something was obviously wrong. I tried everything to get my latch better; skin to skin, the flipple technique, hand expressing milk to encourage him to root… I tried them ALL.


The next time my midwife came round, I expressed my concerns about Adam’s
latch, so she checked his mouth. Instantly she noticed he had a posterior tongue tie. Moments later, she dropped the bombshell that the usual waiting time for an appointment on the NHS was between 2-4 weeks. Just like my dignity, I could feel my dream of successfully breastfeeding fly out the window.


My midwife suggested looking into private tongue tie specialists, which set us back around £200.00. The silver lining was that when I contacted the specialist he came out to our house and performed the procedure on the same day – which is what every demanding, new mother wants to hear, right!? (or was that just me?)


The procedure was really straightforward – tongue ties don’t have any nerve endings, so it is painless for your baby and the whole thing lasted five minutes. As luck (or bad luck) would have it, the following day I had a phone call from our local hospital to book an appointment to have Adam’s tongue tie cut – typical!


This rocky start to breastfeeding took its toll on Adam and he lost 12% of his birth weight and was continuing to lose weight. We were admitted to hospital where he made some improvements but not enough to solely breastfeed. We did find out that Adam had a minor infection, but even after he fully recovered, he still wasn’t gaining enough weight.


The paediatrician recommended giving formula top ups at quite a high amount after every feed. However, after talking to a lactation consultant, she told me to take their advice with a pinch of salt, because even though paediatricians are amazing, they aren’t trained in breastfeeding.


I started to give Adam formula top ups and whilst he had the top ups, I expressed to make sure my boobs were fully drained and that way they knew to make more milk for next time. After I did some research, I found that night feeds are crucial to increasing your supply, so I decided to solely breastfeed during the night – this made a huge difference to my supply!


Eventually, after Adam regained his birth weight (and-then-some), I started to slowly wean him of the top ups – one at a time, over the space of week. It took about four weeks (an eternity), but you have to do this gradually or your boobs don’t have enough time to catch up and make enough milk – it’s a supply and demand service in there!


After we went through that whole ordeal with tongue tie and weight loss, we did eventually get back to exclusively breastfeeding again and I’m still feeding him now at 18 months!


I’m so glad that I persevered with breastfeeding, even after the tongue tie, the weight loss and expressing. I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was HARD. I cried and cried and thought my body was failing me. But it wasn’t and it didn’t. Once I accessed the right support, breastfeeding became the easiest and most natural thing in the world..


As a new mother, knowledge is your power, so if breastfeeding is something you really want to do – research the different positions, look into what a good latch looks like and most importantly access all of the breastfeeding support that you have in your area!


Good Luck and in the meantime here are some links you might find helpful: