Thursday, 26 May 2011

(.) (.) BOOBIES!

Did that get your attention? Good.
It would seem this week that as much as men obsess about breasts so do women. Breastfeeding has been in the news again for good and bad reasons. It's a bit late in the day to be getting in on the debate but I've been a staunch advocate of breastfeeding for the last twelve years and have had my fair share of ups and downs both with the little ones I was feeding and with the general populace. My knowledge and lecturing has fallen on deaf ears family and friends who thought that I was a weirdo for doing it.


The recent news that the funding for Breastfeeding Awareness Week has been withdrawn is terribly sad but still a sign of the times we live in.
National Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2011, which was due to run from 19 – 25th June, has had its government funding withdrawn. This announcement was made on 7th April on the NHS Local website and the papers have yet to pick it up with any real zeal. Watching my local area where it is de rigueur to breast feed I have seen that over the last few months funding being withdrawn from out local breastfeeding cafe, a place where mothers could go and feed in peace, grab a cuppa and have a chat to other mothers. It is such a shame that I found this place after Miss B's problems had been resolved because when I did go, the place was full of frazzled mothers who were skeptical about the advice given by their professionals. A problem shared as they say. Now they are taking away the funding that promotes breastfeeding nationally as well.

The World Health Organisation have this to say about Breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding is the normal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all mothers can breastfeed, provided they have accurate information, and the support of their family, the health care system and society at large. 

Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.


For me, breastfeeding was the only choice but then I have a rather black and white view of the world. Having read of all of the literature when pregnant with A, I am of the opinion that a plastic teet is manufactured to replace the breast and only in exceptional circumstances. I struggle to understanding how these days the general consensus is the media is that the breast now replaces the plastic teet.

I BF both of my kids with varying degrees of success. A being hard to wean off at 2 years old and B being slow to start and having a few complications along the way and stopping by herself at 16 months. Determined to succeed both times I sought various sorts of help along the way. The first time, I received some fantastic albeit strange support and I felt confident in what I was doing. Because I had done it before, I was offered no help at first with B. I was accused of not watching her latch on properly, not eating enough to nourish her and for weeks despite B clearly not thriving I was told simply to just persevere. I pushed the hospital to investigate a suspected tongue tie and although they were not of the opinion that it would make the slightest bit of difference, they snipped it and B started gaining straight away. It would've been easy to bung a bottle in and watch her chub up like the rest of her bottlefed counterparts but I suspected a cow's milk allergy as it runs in the family. Once B was feeding better and taking more milk, we then discovered that she had relfux! We went to a reflux clinic to investigate different strategies to use to counteract all of her feed coming up and boy, weren't we glad we didn't bottlefeed! We sat there and watched as pairs of parents were subjected to exorcist like explosions after every feed. Because breastmilk is digested easier, the amount she was bringing up was nowhere like that of her bottlefed counterparts.

My experience with B has been on my mind recently as I was contacted by a mother that I had given advice to during the first weeks of her first BF experience with her son who recommended that I take a counselor course. She has said that of all of the professionals who had offered her support and advice, it wasn't until she spoke to me, having BF two kids of my own that she was reassured and felt confident to keep to her path of feeding on demand. Like me, she was wary of the professional advice given and wondered how you could take advice from a woman who hadn't breastfed before. I have no idea what the future of breastfeeding support will look like here in the City but I suspect rates will plummet soon. I can't offer full time support in my area an so that precludes me from joining a counselling course! I can offer some links and information here though.

There is a wonderful website called The Lactivist that specialises in selling promotional merchandise and it has it's own blog where mothers can post queries and problems are tackled by an extensive crowd of women with all sorts of breastfeeding experiences, good and bad.

There are some really great sites offering support and it's a good idea to trawl through them until you find something that satisfies.

La Leche League

Mum 2 Mum Support

Barefoot Mother

Maternity Matters

What is a tongue tie?

A tongue tie is a membrane that extends from the underside of the tongue, in the middle, to the bottom of the inside of the mouth. The pictures at the top of this page show the membrane under the tongue, with a cotton bud used to gently lift the baby's tongue upwards.

How common is it? Estimates vary, but a commonly quoted figure is that 1 in 20 babies has some sort of tongue tie. It's commoner in boys and there may be other members of the family who have also had a tongue tie. Many tongue ties are minor and do not require treatment. However a tongue tie that is interfering with breast feeding may require assessment with a view to possible treatment (frenotomy). Some bottle fed babies will also benefit from tongue tie release. The assessment should be carried out by someone with experience in this field.

Can my baby breast feed with a tongue tie? Some can, some manage OK, some find it difficult, and some can't. Some babies also have trouble bottle feeding and may dribble excessively, or swallow too much wind. The difficulties a baby is having do not always depend on the visual appearance of the tongue tie.

What are the symptoms of a tongue tied baby? Sometimes mothers will experience painful feeding, grazing or damage to the areola or nipple, or even mastitis. Babies may latch on poorly, require several attempts to latch and become frustrated. They may make a clicking noise when feeding. Feeding may be prolonged, and the baby may still be hungry and be irritable, or be ready to feed again within an hour or two. Some babies have problems with excessive wind and may be in pain or suffer from vomiting as a result of swallowing wind. These are some of the more common symptoms of a tongue tie causing problems with breast feeding.

Why do some doctors and midwives think tongue ties are not important? Nowadays we aim to promote breastfeeding much more strongly than in the past, because of the health benefits to the baby and to the mother. Our knowledge on what makes babies breastfeed successfully has also increased. As a result there is more evidence that the presence of a tongue tie can interfere with feeding. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence have stated that division of tongue tie may be beneficial, and there is a parent information sheet to read. **

How is it treated? Tongue tie release is carried out by carefully cutting the tongue tie under the tongue. It is a quick procedure and your baby will be able to feed afterwards. Sometimes there may be a small amount of bleeding, but this stops after a minute or so in most cases. Babies can be fed straight afterwards, and there is no special after-care needed.

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