A brief history of my past 2 experiences. With #1 I was told I had flat nipples and needed a shield for him to latch properly. I was given a shield that was too small and not told that I should wean him from it or that it could affect my supply. At his 3 week appointment he had only gained 1 oz in 1 week, so we had to start supplementing. I was able to get him to latch without the shield that very day, but my supply was already in the toilet, so I supplemented for 5 months then switched to 100% formula.
With #2 I was sure that if I didn't use the shield my supply would be awesome. Not so. He had a terrible latch from the beginning but everyone kept telling me his latch looked good. His lips were flanged out, but when he pulled off, my nipple was noticeably ridged. Before I even left the hospital I had blisters. I showed the lactation consultants and nurses, but everyone said his latch was fine. When he was 2 weeks, he hadn't regained birth weight and I had mastitis, open bleeding sores on my nipple, and shooting pains everytime I nursed. I was miserable. I began supplementing him because I couldn't nurse on the left side at all. He started gaining weight and I supplemented until he was 10 months old and then switched to 100% formula.
This time, I was determined. I made lactation cookies. I delayed circumcision so I didn't traumatize him. I rubbed basil essential oil on my breasts. I was ready. I did immediate skin-to-skin and nursed him fairly quickly after birth. After the very first time nursing I pointed out to my birth team that I had a ridge when he came off the left side. No one seemed concerned. Within a day I had blisters and intense pain on the left side and some pain and a blister or 2 on the right. I pointed it out to the nurses and lactation consultant and again was told his latch was fine. I tried every position but I got a ridge almost every time.
At day 3 I discovered a slight lip tie and excitedly showed it to the pediatrician because I was SURE it was the issue with his latch. He assured me it wasn't, but said if it made me feel better, he would clip it. He did. At first it seemed better, but after just a few feedings, it was back to normal. I was so sore that I couldn't bear the idea of nursing again. The LC suggested I pump and syringe feed. So, I did that for 1 1/2 days. On day 5 I was ready to begin breastfeeding again and I talked to the LC, told her I was pumping about 1 1/2 oz every feeding. She acted as if that wasn't enough and said the words that made me sick "You've done well, if you have to supplement, don't feel bad." I was defeated! At only 5 days old, my LC had told me to QUIT! I wasn't giving up though.
The next morning I took #3 to a pediatric dentist to check for a tongue tie. I was SURE he had one because all my symptoms pointed to it. He caused a ridge that looked like a tube of lipstick and blisters. I had researched and researched and was sure that he had one (even though the pediatrician said he didn't). The dentist checked and he definitely did not have a tongue tie. I wanted to cry when he told me! I was ready to give up. But, I had an appointment with a new LC that afternoon. I went to see her and #3 fell asleep on the way. He refused to wake up to nurse! I talked for over an hour about advice, but I already had read most of that advice somewhere and I was feeling like I wasn't sure if any of it would help. She did suggest that I pump after every feeding to maintain supply. This was the best advice I had gotten! Had I not done this, I would have had to supplement again, but this kept up my supply while I was figuring things out.
Finally, he woke up! As soon as he latched, she noticed that instead of extending and cupping his tongue, he pulled it back. Then while he was nursing, his tongue would push up against my nipple and hurt it. Also, because he wasn't cupping my breast, he wasn't fully stripping the milk, so he was telling my body to not make as much milk. I did some research online and it seemed like he had tongue thrust.
So, what do you do to fix it? Well, the LC suggested I stick my finger in his mouth and let him suck. Then, I pushed down on the back of his tongue and slowly pulled forward to encourage him to cup and extend his tongue. It seemed to work ok, but I wanted some way to help him while he was actually nursing. She suggested a nipple shield, but I didn't like the idea of something that could reduce my supply, so I searched for more answers. I researched tongue thrust and found I needed to get a deeper latch to help encourage his tongue to go where it's supposed to. I found this video online. I started using the "nipple flip" to latch him. Almost immediately I noticed a difference in his latch. I was still pumping over an ounce AFTER he nursed, so I knew he wasn't getting it quite yet. If you need more help figuring out the deep latch, simply google "deep breastfeeding latch" or "nipple flip breastfeeding". There are lots of great videos showing the technique.
Anyway, so I froze the milk I pumped and continued on. At about 10 days old, I was finally not pumping much of anything after he ate. By 2 weeks old, I had stopped pumping all the time and I was actually healing a little. All this time, we checked his weight every 3 days or so, just to make sure he was increasing. Here is his growth for those first few months.
Now, he is 2 months old and he has gained over an ounce a day. He has never had any formula and I even have a little breastmilk in the freezer for a time when I want a little time away. I still can't believe it! I am so glad I didn't give up! I was so discouraged, but with a LOT of research and trouble, I finally found my answers and now I know what to do in the future. Most of the time it still doesn't hurt, but every once in a while, I have to strategically latch him again so it doesn't hurt. Now that he knows how much more milk he gets when he's latched properly, he often does it himself.
Well, I hope this can help someone who is struggling with breastfeeding. My biggest advice is DON'T GIVE UP! If you think something is wrong, listen to that and keep asking questions until you get an answer.