Breastfeeding: Tongue Tie

Today we meet Natalie and she talks to us about how an undiagnosed tongue tie affected her breastfeeding journey. She also gives some great tips for newbies! Whilst being busy mummy, wife and teacher, Natalie also runs her own business: making beautiful bits for beautiful tots. You can find her on Instagram as @FinPin_Baby or on Etsy here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/FinPinBaby

My little man is Finlay. He is a cheeky and surprisingly well behaved 15 month old laddy who I managed to breast feed in some way until he was 6 months old. It was a massive struggle and I am now, looking back, incredibly proud that we even made it there.

The early days were quite challenging when it came to feeding Fin. He had an undiagnosed posterior tongue tie and feeds would last hours and he was still losing a LOT of weight. He dipped below his allotted 10% margin and I was bashed by midwives saying ‘you’re doing it wrong’ I was unsupported by some family members who told me ‘just give him a bottle’ and I felt like I was failing as a mum. Having had counselling it’s become apparent this is a massive part of my anxiety that developed postnatally. I felt I was failing my child. A helpful breastfeeding group suggested I look for a tie on about day 7, by this point we had already bowed to pressures and given Fin some formula to keep people off my back, and help him gain weight. I was sure, even as a first time mama, that he had one. All the doctors and midwives had missed it and lo and behold- when asked to check they confirmed it was there. He was booked for a snip a few days later. By this point combi feeding had become the norm and what Fin had developed a taste for. So we continued. I got my time with him on the boob each feed and he got a bottle thereafter to satiate his huge appetite. We kept this up for months and months before it petered off somewhat at about 4 months. We strung it out to 6 and finally he just stopped wanting me. It was bitter sweet that my little boy had decided he no longer needed mummy in that way.

Top tips. Well… number one. Trying to cover your baby with a modesty cover requires more skills than all of The Avengers assembled together. Do yourself and baby a favour, just go for it and ignore people. I found sitting facing the wall helped if I was on my own until baby latched OR if I was with a partner asking them to be a ‘human shield’ whilst I adjusted and got baby on. If you struggle to get baby latched google the ‘flipple’ technique. Always useful when you’re both getting aggravated. Also, if you want to use a dummy, do. I found my laddy liked Mam ones as they’re flatter and less obnoxious in the mouth. I still knew when he wanted a feed. As lots of other breast feeding mummies who use dummies do.

I think in terms of what I most enjoyed, it was 2 things. One, that it was incredible to bond with them when doing it. You really do feel a closeness that a bottle just can’t get you in my opinion, having done both ways. And two, it’s incredibly quick when baby is having an actual meltdown. I remember a rainy day last summer in Aviemore when he was having a frommy and I simply fed him whilst walking the streets and looking in shops. He was so content he fell asleep and we could pop him back in the buggy and continue on our way. We didn’t have to fuss on with bottles and formula and getting the temperature right and things.

I was always sure I wanted to breast feed in whatever way I could. I’m so glad I did and I feel much more confident going forward next time.

Thanks, Natalie, as ever!

Great support is really important when you’re starting breastfeeding. If you want to support your friend who has just had a baby and wants to breastfeed, supporting her with that is a great thing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never breastfed, you can still tell her she is doing a great job. If you’d like tips on how you can do that, you can find some here from La Leche League: https://www.laleche.org.uk/supporting-a-breastfeeding-mother/#Ways

To find out more about tongue ties head over here: https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/tongue-tie