This is my third child, I nursed my other two munchkins until they were 16 months old, never in a million years did I think with my third munchkin would I be writing a blog called “Breastfeeding Struggles”, but here I am. The second and third weeks of S’s life I struggled with breastfeeding and was in a lot of pain. I write this post to help and educate other moms who might find themselves in a similar situation.
Backstory: Nursing my first 2
Let’s start this all with a little history on breastfeeding my other two munchkins C & M. I nursed them both for 16 months. With C the first 3 months was brutal. I had sore, scabbed nipples, but she was my first and I though that was normal She took forever to nurse; I am talking an hour to an hour and a half. I was a first time mom and thought this was all normal. On top of that, I got mastitis with her 5 times and the first time she was just 10 days old. Again, I thought this was common and I just had a lot of milk. After three months the pain of nursing went away, she sped up and I continued to get mastitis.
With M, the pain was so much better. From the start, it was not painful and he was a fast nurser. I did notice right from the beginning he never was able to flange his lip up when he nursed so I would always lift it up when he would latch. Although he was fast, I still got mastitis with him… 3 times!
I was just under the assumption that I will always get mastitis with my kids. I just must have a lot of milk and that is how it was. In fact, my kids would sleep through the night and I would set my alarm and wake up and pump to prevent getting it.
Then S comes along and the first week of nursing goes well. The nurses at the hospital said he had good latch and things were looking good for nursing another baby. Then the pain started to kick in and I knew something was wrong. I started to hear that “clicking” sound and I knew something was not right. I started pulling his lip up just like I did with M, but it wasn’t helping.
At 2 weeks old I was sitting on the recliner at my mom’s house, he was ready to eat and I had tears in my eyes because I did not want to nurse– it hurt so bad. I looked down to examine my open wound on my nipple and cringed as I put him on to nurse.
I contacted some lactation consultants and they all said, “just keep lifting up that lip” or “try to get his mouth open as wide as possible”. One suggested taking a break from the side that had the open wound so I did. For five days straight I would feed S on one side while pumping the other side. The wound started to heal and the other side started to hurt. I knew there was something wrong.
The Discovery: Lip Tie
I had been nursing S on one side for five days straight and we went to a family cookout when I saw Josh’s cousin’s wife and told her about my problem. She immediately told me that was not right. She is not a doctor, a nurse or a lactation consultant; she is a mom who has been through this and her experience was ten times worse than mine. She immediately lifted up S’s lip and said, “He is lip tied. You must call this doctor tomorrow”.
I got home that night and did a lot of research which included looking at pictures of what a lip tie is and what the symptoms are. My little boy’s frenulum looked exactly like all the google images when you search “newborn lip tie”. One of the symptoms I read was, “Recurring mastitis in mother.” Well, don’t you know, chances are the other two have it too!
I immediately called the doctor on Monday morning. There are not many who do this operation so you want someone who is experienced and specializes in this. I am so lucky that we have Dr. Mikel Newman right here in Indy. I called him, I submitted pictures of S’s lip and he immediately emailed me back to get on the schedule for a procedure in just two days.
The procedure itself was harmless. S did an awesome job. It took just 3 minutes for him to use a laser and fix both his tongue and lip tie. If a child has a lip tie the chances are good the tongue is tied too which was the case for S.
Prior to the procedure Dr. Newman went over the exercises we’d be doing after the procedure to make sure the skin doesn’t grow back as well as some things to look for. S did a great job with the procedure and nursed well right after.
I did not feel relief immediately but did notice a huge difference and I didn’t hear that darn clicking!
The After Effects
Here we are 3.5 weeks after the procedure and nursing is going well! I have no signs of mastitis because he is draining the breast properly. Two weeks ago I did meet with a location consultant who specialized in tongue and lip ties and she was incredible! I was still having a little pain on one side while nursing (nothing compared to what I was originally experiencing) and she helped me help S get a better latch. She also taught me some sucking exercises to do with him so that we could help his ability to suck better.
I am so relieved that this is fixed. I have a new understanding for mom’s who have difficulty nursing. If you are one of those moms, I encourage you to look for help, ask your friends and contact a professional. Sometimes it might take few professionals to get to the bottom of it, but be persistent and follow your mommy-gut. I knew deep down that this pain was not normal and it was not something he would grow out of. I am so glad I found a team of professionals to help us get throughthis so I could continue to nurse my baby boy pain free.
If you think your baby might be tongue or lip tied and you are in the Indianapolis area, check out Dr. Mikel Newman’s website. Even if you aren’t local, he has some great information on his site and hopefully you can find someone near you to help.
If you have more questions about my breastfeeding journey, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.