My mum breastfed her 5 children (including twins!) so I grew up seeing it, for me it was the obvious natural choice when I found out I was pregnant. She bought me a book on the subject to read during pregnancy and the NCT ante-natal class on breastfeeding made it all seem so simple.
Shortly after my daughter was born, I tried to feed her in the delivery room, she didn’t seem to latch, I then tried again and again over the next 24 hours and it became more and more painful, she screamed more and more and the stress and tiredness levels heightened. Apparently “it was the perfect latch” and everything was fine, except it wasn’t.
On the second day home, I sent my mum off to buy a Medela Swing Breast Pump because my nipples just couldn’t take it anymore and I needed to feed my daughter. Little did I know (a private Lactation Consultant diagnosed this at a week old), my daughter had posterior tongue tie so no wonder we were struggling! She would even dribble from the bottle but thank goodness for the pump or I would have abandoned and switched to formula because the pain was just too much. I also doubt my supply would ever have been enough if I had not been pumping because of the inefficiency that goes with tongue tie. I wasn’t giving up so I organised for her tongue tie to be snipped.
After the operation, things became much much easier. I continued pumping so I could leave her sometimes but didn’t keep it up and she eventually even refused the bottle that she was desperate to have as a newborn! I ended up pumping for a friend on one occasion, whose son also had tongue tie and was struggling with supply issues. I wish I had realised that babies can stop taking bottles if you don’t keep it up as it really restricts your freedom if you can’t leave them for more than a few hours.
We then managed to carry on for 19 months! I would never had believed this the first few weeks and will never forget taking my pump with me on business trips to keep the supply up and the leaks at bay! I never thought I would breastfeed for that long but we both enjoyed it and it was hard to let go of the magic properties it can have, for example she would fall asleep anywhere on the boob (plane, train, beach etc.)!
I wish I had been more insistent at hospital and asked more people to check for tongue tie as I left in a real stress, was completely confused as to why it was so painful and it really ruined the first few weeks with my baby.
My advice to new mums would be, trust your instincts and keep asking for help and advice if you feel something is wrong.
A huge thank you to Adele for sharing her breastfeeding story with us. If you would like to share your experience of breastfeeding and/or expressing, please email our PR team on firstname.lastname@example.org.