This is a story from a former client. She wants to encourage other moms to aggressively seek help for breastfeeding challenges. She wants you to know that if you’re having trouble, it’s not your fault! And, finally, she wants you to know that you and your baby don’t have to suffer and struggle in order to breastfeed
By the time I saw Renee, I’d already been to 4 lactation consultants and I was losing hope I’d be able to breastfeed my baby girl for even another month, let alone her first year. We were on week 9 of pain, frustration, and tears. When Renee said my girl had a tongue tie, I didn’t quite believe her for a moment. Then I wanted to cry, I was so relieved to have a concrete, fixable solution.
Every other lactation consultant I’d seen had stuck their fingers in my baby’s mouth and declared it normal and free of a tongue tie. The unspoken suggestion was that somehow I’d failed, causing my own breastfeeding pain. Or maybe that I wasn’t strong or patient enough to endure the necessary adjustments. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to breastfeed and should simply take the easy road and give her the formula that kept showing up unsolicited in our mail. The worst part was I’d started to wonder if they were correct. They’re the experts; they know what they’re talking about, right? It didn’t matter I’d birthed my girl without pain medication through a pitocin-induced labor. According to those experts, weeks of agonizing breast pain were simply something more to be endured until the magical day I’d wake up and it wouldn’t hurt anymore.
I encountered this attitude repeatedly as I went from one expert to the next, searching for a solution. They made me feel like an inadequate mother as they downplayed my concerns and my pain. Now that I have the solution and breastfeeding is improving daily, I’m just angry. If they had been paying attention, my daughter and I would not be still healing and learning to breastfeed while I’m back at work. My milk supply would never have dipped dangerously low. These people wasted my maternity leave on pain and desperation. They wasted my money. They betrayed my trust in their abilities. I take some small consolation in what I’ve learned from my breastfeeding odyssey: very few experts in this field can be trusted to truly hear a mother’s concerns or help her find solutions.
Adrienne and her baby are doing much better. It’s been a journey that required several different practitioners. First, she found a lactation consultant who has experience identifying tongue ties. After identifying the tongue tie, low milk supply and muscle tightness in the baby, mom and baby had a path to resolution. A Dr. released the frenulum (frenotomy), and baby had several sessions of body work—including physical therapy and cranial sacral therapy. Each intervention has helped baby be more comfortable in her body and more effective with breastfeeding.
If you are having any breastfeeding difficulties, please seek help from an experienced, reputable IBCLC. If you don’t feel that you are being heard or taken seriously, ask your friends and health care professionals for other recommendations. You and your baby deserve to be happy and healthy!