My breastfeeding journey: tongue confusion, triple feeding and mastitis

My breastfeeding journey: tongue confusion, triple feeding and mastitis

It’s true. Everything that people warn you about before you start breastfeeding. It’s a journey! And after childbirth, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. (If you decide to breastfeed- which is a personal choice.) I was optimistic when I started breastfeeding Lennox, but unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out as well as I had hoped.

The weight struggle

As soon as Lennox was born, I breastfed him. He latched pretty well and we were off to a great start! It took a few days for my milk to come in, but I was still nursing him every couple hours and things seemed fine. We left the hospital after a 2-night stay and braved the world alone with our newborn. The first night at our house was a disaster. Lennox screamed all night and no one slept. The days thereafter weren’t much better. At our week check-in at the pediatrician Lennox had lost weight. Uh oh. We got a slap on the wrist and were instructed to come back a few days later. At the next appointment, he still hadn’t gained weight. The doctor then urged me to see a lactation consultant. And thank goodness I did.

Baby tongue confusion

Within 24 hours our lactation consultant Shari was at our house. And within seconds of meeting Lennox she noticed something was not quite right with his tongue. (Um, what?!) This was the first we had heard anything about his TONGUE. Her hunch was right. Lennox was having trouble sucking when he breastfed, due to an issue with his tongue. She initially thought it may be some sort of tongue tie.

Shari instructed us to start triple feeding- which means you breastfeed, then supplement with a bottle AND then pump with my Spectra S2. All three. At every feeding. I was up for the challenge and it worked! Lennox immediately started gaining weight. The issue was that he was eating- just not ENOUGH at each feeding.

When we had our next pediatrician appointment, we were looking good and Lennox had gained a few ounces. We weren’t back at his birth weight yet but we were on the right track. Phew. I felt so relieved that we had avoided a potentially dangerous situation. But oddly, the doctor didn’t think Lennox had any tongue tie. So he was diagnosed with tongue confusion. An uncoordinated tongue. Meaning, his tongue just doesn’t know how to suck properly so he gets tired and lazy while eating.

Triple Feeding

The good news: Triple Feeding WORKS! The bad news: triple feeding is exhausting and time consuming. Lennox continued to gain weight as I continued triple feeding for many weeks. My days were consumed with feeding, pumping and doing dishes. And trying to get Lennox to sleep at night. It turns out he slept very bad in the first few days at home because he was hungry. In hindsight, he just wasn’t getting enough food. Makes sense.

On the bright side, there was plenty of breast milk to be had. Between the nursing and pumping I was making a ton of breast milk. So much, that it seemed I had a never ending supply and I started to freeze my extra milk.

I can’t remember how long I did Triple Feeding because those first couple months were a blur. I think I did it for about 6-8 weeks. Shari would check in on us periodically to make sure Lennox was gaining weight and things were going well. And they were. Until I got too confident and I craved a change to my daily routine. Triple Feeding was going so well that I thought we didn’t need to do it anymore and I grew tired of feeding consuming my whole day. With Shari’s guidance I attempted to switch to a schedule where I split up the nursing and bottle feeding: nurse 4x/ day and bottle fed and pump 4x/ day. The goal was to save time and dishes.

It didn’t work.

Life after Triple Feeding and low breast milk supply

Lennox was getting used to being bottle fed and had little to no interest in nursing from the breast, so during nursings he wouldn’t eat much. He would get most of his food during his bottle feedings which contributed to an uneven mood during the day. On top of that, my milk supply dropped. I’m not entirely sure why because there were many factors. The stress of Lennox not eating well and not sleeping well was definitely a top factor. I also wasn’t always getting in my 8 feedings per day, which your breasts need in order to make milk properly. (They need to be stimulated 8x per day.) And on top of that I started my first post-baby menstrual cycle.

So I went nuts. I tried everything I could to get my milk supply up- from herbal supplements to Power Pumping. I detail more about dealing with low milk supply in this blog post here. So head over there if you are interested in the nitty gritty on battling my low milk supply! In the end, I was able to get my supply to an O-K better place but I was never able to get it back to my Triple Feeding levels where I had extra milk to freeze. What worked for me was breast massage and de-stressing about the whole situation. I’m serious.

Mastitis is the worst

What made matters worse in the middle of battling low breast milk supply was that I got mastitis. Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue, often caused when one or more of your milk ducts gets clogged. Apparently it’s very common. Maybe this was part of my low supply problem? I don’t really know.

Mastitis comes on FAST and you’ll probably know you have it right away. If you wake up in the middle of the night or the morning with a crazy fever or chills, then mastitis might be the culprit. I woke up with chills, shakes and swollen breasts and immediately called my doctor. I convinced them over the phone that I had mastitis (even thought I didn’t have visible red marks on my breasts like many women do) and they sent in an antibiotics prescription to my pharmacy right away. Within two hours my Mom had picked up the prescription for me and I was on the road to recovery. I didn’t want to have to make an appointment and go to the doctor in person, since covid made this more tricky.

It took about a week to feel better. During the week I took my antibiotics every 6 hours and also took Tylenol to suppress the fever, aches and chills. Breast massage at every pump helped make sure I was emptying my breasts each time which is important to prevent the clogging from happening again.

Where I’m at now

Lennox just turned 7 months and I’m still exclusively pumping. My milk supply is doing well and I supplement with a bottle of formula every other day. Pretty good in my book!

I thought I would stop pumping breast milk when I went back to work…but I didn’t. So now I’m still exclusively pumping and waiting to get to my breaking point. It’s pretty mind-numbing for me at this point so I don’t have a massive urge to stop pumping. I will likely stop when a trip or travel makes it too hard to continue to pump. Only time will tell!

Did you have any similar issues during your breast feeding journey?

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