Posted on

Hello New Mum – A Letter From Lyndsey

Lyndsey Wray is a "not so new mum"

Recently in our closed breastfeeding support group on Facebook, mum Lyndsey Wray posted an open called “Hello New Mum”.  Lyndsey’s words generated a lot of interest within the group, where there are many new mums, and she kindly gave us permission to reshare it here on our website.  Lyndsey is a high school teacher, and describes herself as a “Not so new mum”.

Hello new mum

Hello new mum.

I picture you right now with your 1 week old in your arms. You’re exhausted, you’re vulnerable, you’re emotional. You’re trying so hard to breastfeed, but it’s a battle – you read all the books, joined all the groups. You wanted to try and see how long you could feed your baby for. But, it’s 10.30pm, your husband is fast asleep snoring on the couch and your baby is unsettled, squirmy and you see that little head turn toward your swollen, poker hot nipples and your heart drops a little in fear. I hear your thoughts… ‘I just fed you!’, ‘how are you hungry again’, ‘not another night of 40 minute feeds per breast every 2 hours! ‘I want to stab my husband in the larynx for sleeping right now’.

You grit your teeth, and try to remember the positions the nurse showed you in the hospital. You coax baby’s mouth open and quickly help her latch. Too quickly? She’s probably swallowed half a litre of air and you’ll be paying for that during burp time. Is the latch right? The nurse said it shouldn’t hurt but the pain makes your eyes water. You spend the night up and down, feeding, burping changing nappies and onesies till the sun comes up. Your well rested husband, feeling helpless suggests one feed with a bottle of formula, you burst with tears at the thought whilst holding back the urge of scratching his eyes out.

The weeks drift by. Some days are good, some not so much. Your wracked with self doubt – is baby getting enough? My boobs feel soft – I’m drying up! Should I make lactation cookies? WTF is fenugreek? The weekly baby weigh ins at the clinic gives you anxiety as you pray Bub put on enough weight this time. You see other mums feeding their babies so easily with bottles that your so tempted but immediately feel so guilty at the thought of stopping breastfeeding you almost cry.

The months drift by. Your support network isn’t so supportive after all. Mothers, MIL’s, strangers give you their advice. ‘Why isn’t that baby on a bottle, I want to have her overnights soon’, ‘you’re spoiling her for everyone else’, ‘she’s so tiny compared to bottle fed babies’.

Through your many hurdles, you still persist. You persist so well that now when you want a night out with the girls, you can’t leave as baby refuses all 13 types of bottles you have purchased specifically for the lead up to your big night out! Oh the irony.

Sorry this is long winded Mum. I just want you to know you’re not alone. Your questions aren’t silly, you’re doing a fantastic job and one day those long nights and sore nipples will be a distant memory.

I’m a veteran breast feeder now. My 1.5 year old is still what we affectionately call ‘a titty girl’. She makes up her own positions now (mostly vertical ones where my nipple is stretched into a bizarre shape) and the only time I have sore nipples is during a teething frenzy. Some nights she sleeps through, others I feed her 5 times a night. That’s our norm, there is none.

So new Mum, from a not so new mum. Regardless of how long or short your breastfeeding journey is, please remember this overwhelming time in yours and your baby’s lives is just a drop in the ocean of what lies ahead. Do what you need to do to get through the hour/ day/ week and please be kind to yourself. You are doing the most important job in the world – being someone’s mum.”

To see posts and discussions like this one, please join our closed breastfeeding support group on Facebook – Breastfeeders in Australia

FacebooktwitterinstagramFacebooktwitterinstagram
Posted on

My Stance On Tongue Ties

People often ask me what my thoughts are on tongue ties – specifically whether or not I think they are over-diagnosed, whether I think they are a fad, and what I think of professionals who deny their existence.

Well here it is.

Some people are tied and some people are not.  We should have professionals we can trust to assess and correct ties, and assist and support families through the recovery process so they can feed (and live) normally.

In an ideal world, this would be all I would have to say.  Sadly, there is a lot about the way tie issues are handled that are not ideal.

I’m tired of feeling like tie issues are political. I’m tired of feeling like I need to say which team I’m on. When it comes to breastfeeding support, I think we should all be on the same team.

I’m tired of the issue of ties being so contentious that I have had to alter my language when I’m troubleshooting breastfeeding problems with other families.  I feel like if I say “have you considered ties?” I might start a huge drama, basically where a bunch of people with loud opinions and an inability to listen to others join in the conversation to essentially embarrass themselves.   Instead I find myself saying “Have you considered having your baby’s oral function assessed by a health care professional who is experienced in the way oral structure can affect breastfeeding?  Some babies have physical deformities in their mouth that prevents them from breastfeeding effectively.  Sometimes these deformities require surgical correction”.  It’s convoluted and nonsensical, but I find myself feeling like I need to skirt the issue to avoid world war 3.

If ties are being overdiagnosed, then that’s a huge problem.  And if they are being underdiagnosed, then that is also a huge problem.  But the language people are using around these discussions, and the suggestion that families are irresponsibly seeking surgical treatment that’s unnecessary, is perhaps an even huger problem.

When I read posts about about ties being a fad, or that they are being overdiagnosed, and that online support groups are contributing to the problem, I feel like I am being blamed because my kids had ties, and having them surgically corrected had a positive impact on both of my breastfeeding journeys.  I feel like I am being accused of making this perceived issue worse because I tell other people about my situation, and encourage them to investigate whether they are facing the same problems I faced.  I have felt scorned for talking about my experience, and that is wrong.

Whether a family is being affected by ties, or whether they only think they are being affected by ties, the bottom line is that they have a problem that warrants investigation.

I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles published by medical professionals about ties that really concern me.  The language used ranges from dismissive and patronising (as if accounts from individual families are irrelevant, as if their successes and failures are meaningless and as if they’re so stupid that they don’t even know what did or did not help their breastfeeding journey) to alarmist (implying negligence or abuse for either seeking or failing to seek surgical correction).

If you’ve promoted a strong opinion on whether tongue and lip ties are a fad, whether they are over or under diagnosed or whether mum-to-mum social media interactions are creating mass hysteria, then perhaps you need to think about the consequences of that, and what your ultimate goals are.  Do you want to make parents afraid to talk about their experiences because they don’t match your own?  Do you want to make political statements and criticise your peers?  Or do you want to help families breastfeed.  Every family is unique, and we would do better to focus on the individuals in front of us, instead of making sweeping statements about what is a very broad and diverse group of people.

Our community of breastfeeding advocates is too small to be divided over this issue.

FacebooktwitterinstagramFacebooktwitterinstagram