The breastfeeding mile – Tongue tie and thrush

If you’ve been following my ‘Breastfeeding mile’ posts then you’ll know that it hasn’t been an easy journey for me so far. Me and Jasper have gone through ups and downs with mastitis, engorgement and a few other nasties that you can see on my previous posts. We’re still not quite there yet, but the last couple of weeks have been a real improvement and that’s mostly down to Jasper having his tongue tie corrected. 

When Jasper was 1 day old, still in the hospital I was having trouble getting him to latch on so the midwife asked me to express some milk. While I was doing that she said she was going to take him to the office with her, no big deal, I didn’t think anything of it other than that she was keeping him busy while I tried to squeeze out some milk into a syringe (not the easiest of jobs!). When she came back she said that she thought he may have had a tongue tie but checked and he wasn’t – no problem.

The next few days were a mixture of ‘he has got tongue tie’ ‘he definitely hasn’t’ he has but it’s very minor’ – all contradicting views form various health visitors, midwives and doctors.

In the end the majority ruled that Jasper had a mild tongue tie which could have been causing his difficulties feeding and my various aches and pains in the boob region! We went to Breastfeeding Babes which is a fantastic free drop in service provided by the NHS. They sat down and watched me feed and gave me so many tips that were so minor you wouldn’t think them of making a difference but wow did they! They suggested to push my finger on the outside of my nipple that Jasper is feeding from to make it stand out a little more and guide into his mouth easier. They told me not to tense my shoulders and to make use of pillows both supporting my back and underneath Jasper.

These little tips made a difference in an instance but they still agreed with the majority that he had a small tongue tie and this would be beneficial to both me and Jasper if it were corrected. The lady there was the one who would do the procedure and said it would take longer for her to wash her hands than for her to actually do it. They really reassured me and I was all set to say let’s get started when they said they’d have to wait for his thrush to clear up!

Thrush … seriously? They noticed that he had white on his tongue which I thought had just been milk. We were finally getting somewhere and the little man had thrush. Apparently it is really common and can be caused by antibiotics, something that I was on for the mastitis. The thrush can be passed from my nipple onto his mouth and vice versa so it was more than likely that we both had it.

The thrush would have to be cleared before they would go ahead with the procedure as of course there would be an open wound, (although very minor) so they recommended I booked a doctors appointment for that afternoon and after a week, came back to reevaluate the situation.

Well that afternoon we ended up in hospital for something completely unrelated, Jasper had an infection in his body and while we were there they said they didn’t think he had thrush but gave us medication for it anyway. They told me I’d need to get my health visitor (who was conveniently visiting the following day) to prescribe mine.

When she came, she told me that she couldn’t actually prescribe it and I’d need to go to the breastfeeding support group in my area (who may I say were bloody fantastic). Straight away she told me that he didn’t have thrush. The white on his tongue from 2 days before had gone and was as I expected – milk! They showed me some more latches and spoke of breastfeeding in a way that I’d never really thought of.

They said they couldn’t understand why it was seen as normal to stop feeding your human baby human breastmilk at 1 and give them cows milk intended for a baby cow.

They also stated what should have been obvious, that we have milk teeth until the age of around 5 or 6. This is the time when we should be consuming human milk. So why is it weird for mothers to breastfeed their babies  for over a year?

I always understood the whole supply and demand thing. The more you feed or express the more milk you’ll produce; but I never thought of it in the way that they explained cows produce milk. Once a cow has given birth the calf is taken away and the mothers milk is in effect, expressed. The calf doesn’t get its mothers milk, instead it is continually expressed for the purpose of humans. Really the whole concept is quite strange when you actually think about it!

Anyway, they referred us to Dr Griffiths, a semi-retired tongue tie specialist and one of the best in the country! Within a week we were booked in and on Thursday morning last week Jasper had the procedure. My mum came with me for moral support and although I cried when they took him away, it was the best decision for him. He cried of course, and it was horrible to subject him to pain when he was so unaware, but he soon forgot about it. It now means that he can latch properly, I’m not in pain while feeding and we can hopefully continue to breastfeed for as long as we choose.

He did feel a little unsettled for a couple of days. I think because when he cried it stretched his tongue and irritated it, but his mouth seems to open wider when he latches on and he seems to stay at the boob for longer periods too!

At the moment we’re going through frequent feeds and fussiness. We resorted to formula yesterday, something that made me cry then sigh with relief.  He didn’t take to it too well so I’m just taking each day as it comes until we establish either a routine or make a decision as to whether or not we’ll stick with breastfeeding.


What a journey this breastfeeding malarky is ay!?

Thanks for reading!


1 Comment

  • pitterpatter82
    27th May 2014 at 4:57 am Reply

    I’m going through exactly the same issues – breastfeeding is so painful at the moment and I think we both might have thrush. I have one side where the nipple is so painful although not painful to express. Baby seems really unsettled while feeding even from my good side and seems really uncomfortable in his mouth – lots of sticking his tongue out and crying. No ones ever mentioned tongue tie but feeding has always been really painful and he struggles to latch on without nipple shields.
    How can something so natural be so hard??!

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Hi I’m Jess, Single Mum, Accredited Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and Beauty Business owner.

I chat about all thing female empowerment, spirituality and positivity