By Katie Peiffer
I have always, from day one, wanted to nurse. I've always known and understood the amazing benefits from breastmilk! I knew going into it that breastfeeding wasn't going to be easy, it was a full time job. I'm so lucky that my hospital at the time provided breastfeeding classes and that both me AND my partner attended.
My advice to new moms that are planning on nursing is to attend a breastfeeding class, and make sure you bring your partner. It is just as important for them to understand what breastfeeding entails, complications that can occur, and what a Mother needs - whether it's gallons of water, snacks, or just consistent support.
After a really hard, induced labor, our first born came and seemed to have latched on nicely. I did all the normal checks a new mom could do - lips flanged out, head in the right position, mouth opened wide enough etc. but something wasn't right. Within the first few hours of birth my nipples started to bleed, I knew it would be painful or uncomfortable at first, but as I kept nursing things just got worse. The bleeding didn't stop, Hannah was making a clicking sound which meant there was extra air being consumed which then lead to a super gassy, uncomfortable baby.
Both my husband and I knew right away that Hannah had a tongue tie. I was so thankful I was able to identify the issue. I had no idea about ties until I attended the class. An ENT snipped her tie in the hospital and we were sent home, told things would get better but they didn't. Every single time I nursed (which is literally all day and night with a newborn) it brought me to tears. It hurt so badly and I knew the problem hadn't been resolved. I was still bleeding. I met with a Lactation Consultant immediately and she informed me that not only did her tongue tie grow back, she also had lip ties! At 9 days old we took Hannah to a plastic surgeon to have her ties lasered off. It was a pretty painless procedure, the numbing was the most painful part. Not only did resolving her tongue tie quickly help me to continue breastfeeding, it is also very important to address any type of tongue/lip tie early to prevent speech issues down the road.
The following months were tough. We had to do a lot of physical therapy to help Hannah understand that she could now stretch her tongue past her gums. I used a nipple shield for the first few months and was SO grateful the day I could throw out the shield and nurse my baby comfortably. It took A LOT of hard work and determination but we did it! I am thankful for all of the support I had from different Lactation Consultants, and even more thankful we attended the class so we knew how to handle this painful situation. Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, especially after the first month. Moms: reach out for help if you need it, advocate for yourself, and trust your gut if you feel something isn't right! Breastfeeding is not easy, but for me it was worth it.