The Pleasure and Pain of Bresatfeeding BabiesIn November last year I gave birth to our beautiful baby daughter, Isabella. My pregnancy had been event free and relatively easy, no awful morning sickness, except for the aversion to smells, and nausea in the first three months. We had no medical problems and the baby seemed fine at every check up.
So of course, my partner and I were on cloud nine when our baby was born. My parents, who live overseas, came over for the birth, and I was lucky enough to have my Mother present, along with my partner at the birth. The sheer joy and overwhelming feeling of love cannot be described when you first lay eyes on the baby you have been nurturing in the womb for the past nine months. I chose to have my newborn baby lain straight on my naked breast (skin to skin contact) the moment the cord was cut, and before long she had instinctively found my nipple and started to suckle on the colostrum from my breast. Breastfeeding has begun.
Initial Baby Breastfeeding
Although her feeding at this time didn’t feel very comfortable, the midwives quickly checked her and didn’t really say anything about her not being latched on properly. So I assumed it was just the associated pain that comes with ones nipples being suckled on for the first time.
I only stayed in hospital for a few days. I found it difficult to sleep with other people’s babies crying when you had finally gotten your own to sleep, and I was so desperate for sleep that we brought our baby home. During my stay in hospital I asked numerous midwives for help with my baby's latch. Each one had a slightly different way, so it was quite hard to determine which one was the right one. Even when we were at home and our care had been handed over to the health visitors – who were fantastic – I was still having constant trouble with Isabella’s latch.
Breastfeeding babies at home
My hormones were going wild as my milk came in, and at the same time my parents had to return home, and I came down with the most horrendous flu, which kept me coughing all day and night. And Isabella screamed, and screamed and screamed! My partner and I were desperate for some sleep, and I was convinced that a lot of our baby’s problem were that she was not getting enough milk. Still the health care visitors helped me over and again with trying to get the latch right and I read countless books and articles and watched videos showing you how to feed a baby.
My partner would come home from work, and I would be sitting on the sofa crying my eyes out, with my poor, hungry baby screaming in her cot. My nipples were sore, cracked and bleeding from Isabella not latching on properly, and I felt so awful because I could not provide for my baby who clearly wanted milk and was hungry. It was a vicious circle. I tried nipple caps – which didn’t help at all, because our baby was not opening her mouth wide enough to get it around the large teat on the cap. I was convinced also that I did not have enough milk to feed her. Every night when my partner came home from work I told him that I’d had enough and was going to go onto bottles and formula. He was so supportive and fantastic. More than anything in the world we wanted to keep our baby on breast milk because of the enormous benefits it has, but he said if that was what I wanted then we would do it. I still felt bad, now I had the whole breast versus bottle issues to deal with.
Babies Failing to latch during breastfeeding
In the end I decided that she was just not opening her mouth wide enough in that split second that you need to get the baby onto the nipple so that the latch was right. To add to her discomfort she was also suffering from colic. When she was on the breast she would make this strange clicking noise (which I knew was not supposed to happen), and was constantly taking in gulps of air in her quest for food.
Osteopaths and baby breastfeeding assistance
After trying the many colic solutions, we decided to take our baby to an osteopath for cranial osteopathy. I am convinced that this helped her latch and then consequently helped with the colic, as she was not taking in the gulps of air that she had been. Over about four sessions with the osteopath, which involved mainly pressure point therapy, her tongue was released. The osteopath noticed that she was not bringing her tongue out far enough and therefore suggested that this could be the reason for her not latching on properly.
The muscles under our baby’s tongue were very tight, but as the osteopath released them her tongue did seem to come out more and to my complete relief she started to latch onto my nipples properly. Gone was the clicking sound and for the first time in my baby’s life she seemed content with her fill of milk. At the same time her weight finally started to increase as it should. (I hadn’t realised at the time, but the health visitors had been concerned with her low weight gain).
All Babies breastfeeding is different?
Our baby still has her own way of latching onto my nipples! Nothing like the wide open mouth that all of the books and medical professionals tell you to look for before quickly moving them onto the nipple. She sucks my nipple in like a piece of spaghetti, and then moves her mouth within a few minutes to the “normal” feeding position! But gone are my sore nipples, and my milk supply increased to satisfy her needs. For the first time since Isabella’s birth I finally felt happy and confident with feeding her.
I must point out that this whole trauma went on for just over two months, but I am so pleased that I persevered with trying to breast-feed. It would have been so easy to have just given in and put my baby onto formula milk. But with the support of my partner, mother-in-law (who I must say was very firm in telling me that “breast is best”), and the health care visitors I dealt with our problems and Isabella and I overcame them.
The importance of baby breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is so important for babies. It sets them up for life. Not only is it on tap 24hours a day (no hassle of having to sterilise bottles and mix and warm formula), but it also provides all of the essential food that a baby needs for the first six months of its life. It also provides babies with immunity to some colds and viruses, and research has shown that amongst other things, breast fed babies are less likely to be overweight adults.
Along with the benefits to the baby, comes the complete joy in breastfeeding her. It is such a strong bonding method, and I love nothing more than when Isabella settles down for a feed and starts tapping my chest and playing with my clothes, not to mention the sheer look of pleasure on her little face as she feeds from my breast and gains comfort as well as getting her feed!
The baby breastfeeding experience
I am so glad that I struggled on during those tough times and made it through. Our baby is now eating three solid meals a day and needs less breastfeeding – which I now feel rather disappointed about as I love feeding her! But it’s all a part of her growing up. We have not had to worry about bottles at all, as she has gone straight from breastfeeding to a training cup, which she holds on her own now! I hope to keep breast-feeding Isabella for as long as possible, as it is such a wonderful experience.
I wish anyone reading this all the best with their breastfeeding experience, and urge you to struggle on, because it does get easier and is such an amazing experience, for both you and your baby.
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"I have just read your article with interest as my daughter who is almost 3 weeks old has recently changed her feeding technique. I have been getting very upset and cross about it, when I know I shouldn't. Like your daughter there are clicking noises being made and she just doesn't open her mouth, to latch on, the way that all the pictures and videos demonstrate a feeding a baby to do. Tomorrow my partner and I are taking our daughter to see a cranial osteopath. The endless, differing advice from professionals and the internet is beginning to make me feel more confused. I do hope that he can help us, just as you manged to get help. Reading your story was just like reading the exact situation we are in at the moment. Thank you"
"Hi Cindy and Danielle. I would describe an osteopath to be a like a physiotherapist and chiropractor rolled into one (anyone correct me if I'm wrong). So either a chiro or physio may be able to help in the US. The osteopath applied light pressure to the muscles under the tongue, although you would need to consult an osteopath to find out exactly what they would do. Hope this helps!"
"Could you tell me what the osteopath did to "release" your daughters tongue?"
"Can the author of this write me? I am having the same exact problem. Her tongue needs to be released. What's an osteopath? I am in the states. any advice will help. Danielle "
"i think breast feeding is great iv got 4 children 5.3.2.and 9mths. i only breast feed my 9mth old son still doing it it was difficult for the first 2 mths but he cant get enough of it now. hes nearly 2 stone but i cant get him on any baby food "