Today we have guest podcaster Rachel O’Brien MA IBCLC

The Sad Truth with Upper Lip Ties and Breastfeeding

 Thirteen years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I did my best to prepare for breastfeeding.  I took the optional course at the hospital, bought multiple breastfeeding books, bought a Boppy, printed out a little sign for the hospital cradle that said “breastfed only, no bottles!” and made sure I knew when and where LLL met in my town.

But before we even left the hospital and despite seeing the two IBCLCs on duty, my daughter’s latch was damaging my nipples to the point that I was bloody and raw, and I cried every time she ate.

 I had mastitis by the time she was six days old.

I went to LLL on her seventh day of life and when it was my turn, I explained what was going on and that I was currently battling mastitis.  The LLL leader made a funny face and then offered to watch my daughter breastfeed and see if she could help.

And I said no.

Because I was ashamed to breastfeed in front of people.  And these people were all breastfeeding parents, many of whom were breastfeeding.  But I still couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I never got help.  Around six weeks the nipple damage got better, though I did get nipple scars that never went away.  Nursing her was never painless but it started to feel better.  But she nursed every hour until she was one, and was incredibly fussy.  I weaned her at 13 months because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Now… looking back I can see she had a massive, thick, restrictive lip tie that caused her to latch poorly and ineffectively transfer milk.  She would work so hard to nurse that she’d stop after a small snack, and then be hungry again an hour later.  We had to have her lip tie lasered when she was 8 and it was causing dental issues.

Why am I sharing all of this?  Sometimes there’s an assumption that lactation professionals can’t relate to what families are going through.  We’re not perfect, either.  We didn’t necessarily have perfect breastfeeding experiences with our own children.

If you’re in pain, you’re not alone.  If you don’t think you’ll ever be comfortable nursing in public, you’re not alone.  If you’re too embarrassed to ask for help because you did all your research before baby was born and you don’t want to admit you’re having problems- you are DEFINITELY not alone!

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