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The early days of motherhood: tounge tie and extended breastfeeding - Natasha Blake

 

When I fell pregnant with my daughter in 2018 I didn't really think about how I was going to feed her. Sounds so silly now when I read that back!! I went out and got all the usual bits you need for a newborn; clothes, nappies, a cot etc. (little did I know she was never going to sleep in it), a buggy and finally a starter feeding kit with bottles and a steriliser. Most people around us who have children, breastfed in the very early days (if not at all of them) so that seemed like a pretty normal thing to me.  

 

The topic of breastfeeding wasn't bought up at any of my midwife appointments and in my borough you don't have antenatal support throughout pregnancy (you just have one big fat whopper intense day), literally at the end of your pregnancy. We were at 35 weeks and during the antenatal class the topic of feeding came up. The midwife started reeling off all the benefits breastfeeding had for not only baby, but for mum as well (the one about helping loose weight quicker sparked an interest haha) at the time I thought I would give it a go when the time came. 


At 38 weeks exactly my beautiful 7lb 2oz baby girl came into the world - that feeling of her being placed on my chest was literally the best feeling in the world. Even thinking about it over a year and a half later gives me goosebumps! Soon after birth the midwife left to write notes and my husband went to the shop, and it was just me and my fresh little baby. 


I held her in the chair and looked down at her with pure and utter love. Something at that moment - I couldn't tell you what it was, I didn't even think, maybe mother instinct; I began breastfeeding her. It felt like such a special moment, nobody else in the room, just us for that very first time. The midwife came in shortly after and said, "Oh wow, your doing it by yourself, well done!" I thought this is easy I got this! 


After 3 days my nipples were cracked and bleeding. My boobs were enormous! I could barely see her face when I put her on - I used to stare at her the whole time just to make she could actually breathe! I was putting vaseline on my nipples just to get a sense of relief (at the time I didn't know vaseline is not advised, later I discovered the amazing lasinoh nipple cream) My midwife came around and I told her I wanted to express to give my nipples a break, and she advised me that it is not recommended to express within the first 6 weeks as you are establishing your supply and that it will get better. I put my trust in her and keep going.

 

Fast forward to 15 weeks and Nieve is a very healthy 20lbs baby! I never had to worry about her weight, as she was always off the chart. Well done mummas milk! We had our good days and bad days with feeding. Some days days I could completely relax but then other days it just hurt so much I would unlatch because I just couldn't take it. She would get upset because she was hungry and I would get upset because I didn't want to give up, and felt like I was letting her down!

 

I went down to my local breastfeeding cafe where they observed me feeding. Straight away they noticed she clicked when she fed. I didn't really notice as you don't really know what your meant to be looking for; as it was my first baby I was just going with the flow. She examined her mouth and said she was definitely tounge tie. They praised me for being able to exclusively breastfeed with a tounge tie and that we could get it corrected. Because of her age, it could take some time as they see the younger babies first. 


Part of me was proud that I got this far, but the other part was sad that I had to go through all this pain when it could have been prevented, if it had been diagnosed earlier. As soon as I left the group I went on a hunt online and found somewhere privately that could correct it the following day. It wasn't a nice experience, knowing your baby is having the inside of their mouth cut open, but it was done really quickly and as soon as it's done they are put on the boob. The lady who done it said she was 80% tounge tie and would have had trouble with weaning and later on her speech so I was glad I done it straight away.


I thought our problems would be instantly over but it did take us a while to get to a place where feeding was fully pain free. We both had to learn how to breastfeed again from scratch, without a tounge tie. But we did get there! Breastfeeding has been the hardest but the most rewarding thing I have ever done. My daughter is now 19 months and we are still on our journey, and I am so proud of us and how far we have come! I never set myself any goals of how far I wanted to get to I just take it everyday how I feel. For now this is us enjoying our special milky cuddles. 


I have recently completed a breastfeeing peer support course, as since being on my own journey I have become so passionate about breastfeeding and have read and heard so many stories, from people like me, but who unfortunately did not have the support to be able to continue. I want to help as many women as I can who want to breastfeed and normalise long term breastfeeding. I personally only know one other mum who is breastfeeding their child over the age of 1, and at times it can feel quite lonely. I wanted to share my story in the hope that other mums can relate.

            

Natasha & baby Nieve