18 March 2014

Breastfeeding, Tongue-tie &
                    Nexcare Maternity Compresses

When I was pregnant I intended to breastfeed, not just for a couple of months, but for at least a year. I knew it would be hard, but everything suggests you just need perseverance and I'm not short of stubbornness - so it was utterly heartbreaking when we had to stop at just 15 weeks.

When Twitch was born I could get him to latch, but I was pretty sure something was wrong. The nipple kept coming out pinched no matter how carefully I latched him on. I asked several midwives & 'bosom buddies' for help, but they all kept repeating the same advice I'd already heard. The implication was that it was my fault for not latching him properly, and I just had to try harder.

Once I left the hospital things just got worse. The nipples were getting damaged at every feed. I was in so much pain we had to limit Twitch's feed to every couple of hours. By the time we got to four weeks Twitch was clamping on so hard that he was cutting off the blood supply. The ends of my nipples were permanently white. It would take another few weeks, but we eventually discovered the problem - no one had noticed Twitch was tongue-tied.
Luckily the lovely people at Nexcare had sent me a pack of ColdHot Maternity Compresses to review, as there were several nights I wouldn't have made it through without their help. When cool the compresses helped numb the pain and reduce the swelling after feeds, and when warm they helped treat my blocked ducts. I only needed to use one compress at a time and they lived happily in the fridge, so there was always one ready when I finished a feed. I actually found they worked better when they were just lightly chilled rather than properly cold as the skin was so sensitive. I also loved the cotton slip covers, they were much kinder on my damaged skin than the polyester covers of other brands - in fact I think it's worth choosing the Nexcare Maternity Compresses for the covers alone!
** Especially when you can use this discount code
3Mmaternity01 to save 20% at http://www.3mdirect.co.uk/ **
My only frustration was that the Compresses were more difficult to warm up. They worked wonderfully, but you need to submerge the Nexcare ColdHot Compresses in warm water for ten minutes first. I found it very difficult to plan that far ahead when feeding on demand.

Before Twitch was born people had suggested you didn't really need to buy special breastfeeding compresses, but they were certainly a necessity in our experience!
We contacted our NCT breastfeeding counsellor and after many conversations she suggested we have him checked for tongue tie. We got a hospital referral from our GP, and were promised it would only be a couple of weeks, but when the letter arrived the appointment was seven weeks away! There was no way I could face another seven weeks of pain. So we began to look privately.

We finally managed to get Twitch's tongue-tie cut at six weeks, but the damage was done. Normally about 50% of the tongue is free to move, but Twitch had only about 30% free - but there was an even bigger issue. To cut the tie, they swaddled Twitch and had someone hold his shoulders. Twitch's tongue-tie was so tight that when they snipped it the lactation consultant could feel the pop all the way down in his shoulders!

Twitch's feeding did improve greatly after the tongue-tie was cut, but we went from utterly horrible to just bad. Because he'd been unable to move his tongue properly in the womb, his palette hadn't smoothed out and was quite high - which was causing much of the pinching. On top of that Twitch had spent six weeks trying to chew the milk out, and even though the tie was now fixed, Twitch didn't know how to feed properly. He never drained the breast properly, and I had to try and press the milk out for him while he feed.

The lactation consultant recommended we take Twitch to see an osteopath and in desperation we did. The initial consultation suggested while most babies just need two to three sessions, Twitch would need more like four or five. We took him to more than ten sessions, and his feeding still didn't improved.

Twitch's weight dropped significantly before the tongue-tie was cut, and though it stabilised after, for the next couple of months he hovered in the second percentile. The breaking point came at fifteen weeks, when Twitch started screaming in the middle of his feeds and repeatedly biting. He might not have teeth, but the biting left me in tears.

We'd spent weeks looking for help - contacting the lactation consultants for advice, trying the breastfeeding support groups, speaking to the health visitors - but we found either they had no advice for babies that struggle to feed or they held information for ransom. The consultants certainly wouldn't give us any information on combination feeding or even expressing some feeds so I'd have time to heal. We spent weeks rushing from one crisis to the next and eventually we had to give up.

15 weeks.

17 March 2014

Announcing the Arrival of...

Twitch

Born in the early hours of 13th of August 
by emergency c-section.

7 lbs 6 oz