Our gorgeous son Stuart James was born 40+3 via emergency c section, my labour was obstructed after a failed epidural, he is our first child and a miracle after being told I couldn’t have children. Due to the C Section I couldn’t do skin to skin straight away or breastfeed straight away. My C Section was very late at night and once back in the room we attempted the initial breastfeeds and skin to skin but both bub and I needed sleep.
Before we could go home from the hospital the midwives wanted Stuart to breastfeed as did I. My Milk didn’t come in straight away and Ihad to begin using a Medela Swing to express as well as syringe feed him formula and breast milk. Stuart was born with a noticeable tongue tie, which was cut at 1 day old, this impeded breastfeeding and made the process a little stressful. Before we went home we managed to get stuart to latch on using a Medela Nipple Shield, it wasnt a great latch and there was alot of fussing and fighting to get it to work but he was getting some milk. We went home and persevered with breastfeeding it was always a battle of wits and screaming match but I was determined. We were also topping up with formula as Stuart never seemed full enough, and constantly fed.
At 7 weeks he stopped attaching, but still looked for the breast. I knew something wasn’t right.
Determined to continue my breastfeeding journey and work out why even bottle feeding was a nightmare, I went to see a lactation consultant, she gave us some tips and we continued to try. I had continued to express since leaving the hospital and was now determined that we would cut out all formula and be purely breast milk so I began full time expressing. Around this time I tried Boobie Bikkies because I was worried about supply, I definately have enough now!
We continued to see our local consultant, she noticed that Stuart had an upper lip tie and thought that this may have caused issues with attachment and what we thought was severe wind. She referred us to a pediatric surgeon in our closest major town but they could not see us for a few months and I really wanted to continue breastfeeding. I found a pediatric surgeon back in my home town and booked in a visit while I was seeing my mum when Stuart was 9 weeks old. We were placed in the local hospital so that they could monitor how Stuart fed, they decided to send us to a senior Lactation Consultant. It was this wonderful lady who within an hour realized that Stuart had silent reflux and had
developed a fear of the breast due to the pain associated with the reflux and laying down to breastfeed. He was put on medicine and everyday things get better. While we spoke with her, she asked why I wanted him to breastfeed so badly. I explained that it was because I knew how awesome breastfeeding was for both of us, she looked at me and said but honey you are breastfeeding him just not the “normal” way.
With all of Stuart’s combined issues and now a fear of the breast, he refuses to breastfeed from the breast. But that does not mean he isn’t
breastfed. I sit for 10-30min up to 6 times a day and night and express, I use a double pump when we are at home and when we travel I take a mini electric pump and pump in the car, no different to a mum who would be breastfeeding. It just looks funny and isnt “normal” but it works. it has been a challenge and add in the reflux, it makes days shorter and nights longer but to see our little man thriving at fourteen weeks, every hour of pumping and sterilizing is worth it. My biggest advice to new mums is to keep believing and don’t be hard on yourself, if you want to breastfeed and bub can’t then express, if you want a supply then pump pump pump and eat eat eat. i get between 200-400ml each time I pump, I eat plenty and I have mastered pumping and doing tasks. if you really want to breastfeed don’t feel like straight from the breast is the only way because it isn’t.
It is hard to be an ‘expressing mummy’ and there is some judgement because he has a bottle, but my partner loves to tell me ” ignore them you and I know that he is having a boobie bottle full of the best boobie milk.” I always remember “I am enough, I have enough”. Anything is possible if you have a little faith in yourself and of course your little person.
Despite it all, Stuart has taught himself to suck a bottle and has dramatically increased his feed sizes and decreased his frequency, he has never given up so I will never give up. Our goal is 6 months 100% express fed, then 12 months and if we get any further then we have done
I want my story to show anyone else out there who might be battling to breastfeed the “normal” way that you can do it another way with patience and determination.
An update from Temeaka at 10.5 months
Wow!! How far we have come since Pinky last posted our story, at 14 weeks we had no idea how far this journey would go, the lives it would touch or the battle lines we were drawing. We are still 100% Express fed, Stuart is thriving and we have donated milk to TWO milk babies. I have made it 10.5 months, pumped an average of 1100ml a day and spent countless hours sitting with my pump. We have been through surgery to repair Stuarts Tongue and Lip tie when he was 5 and a half months old. Surgery was stressful but worth it, from a skinny little boy suffering terrible reflux who didn’t sleep we were given a happy boy who with lots of mumma milk is becoming a chunky monkey! Recently we learned he is dairy, soy and egg intolerant so I’ve given it up and now he even sleeps. Fighting for his tongue and lip tie has shown us how little knowledge there is on the issues they cause, we have become advocates for getting the right information to mums. Many doctors, Midwives and Lactation Consultants still don’t understand the extent of ties and feeding issues. Stuarts reflux is 100% gone since surgery, his lack of proper latch or efficient feeding was causing it. We want our story to show that if you really feel something is an issue go after it and get informed, I found the Tongue Tied Babies Support Group and used the extensive knowledge in it to fight for my son and I’ve now passed that information to other mums. Too often we are hearing “oh the Dr said it was nothing” or “they said just to formula feed because he couldn’t latch”. We aren’t against Formula, it kept Stuart alive, but we are angry for the mums not given a choice, many are even discouraged from pumping because it “doesn’t work”, “you cant maintain a supply” I am here to prove you can and am part of two world wide groups full of women who prove you can. Its not easy, I’ve eaten enough oatmeal, lactation cookies and calories to feed an army not to mention drunk an ocean of water, but here we are with enough milk to share. After surgery we wanted Stuart to latch, but bad habits and 4 chompers meant physically i couldn’t do it, so I’ve stuck with pumping, but there are women who have successfully got baby to latch. I believe wholeheartedly that if Stuarts ties had been fixed in those first days and not passed over, me an my pump wouldn’t have such an intimate relationship. I then think that had i not pumped I may have given up breastfeeding earlier than I have. Our next goal is in sight of 12 months, then 15 months and hopefully 18 months. I pump 3 times a day for an hour or so each time it takes dedication to stick with it but now I’ve caught the donating bug i can’t give up. Knowing that our story could help one mum, dad, nan, pop find the answer is worth telling it. My partner is still my biggest support without him i wouldn’t have the time to pump and chase a 10 month old around! And without an awesome friend i wouldn’t have a double pump, my beloved pump in style died while we waited for surgery, she raced straight out brought me a swing maxi and told me to PUMP ON despite saving for her wedding, its friends like that make the journey easier. I still feel judged when our son has his bottle in public but its a small price when the flip side is the support we have. Pumping and traveling is an adventure, taking enough milk, storing it, pumping in the car (yes i may have flashed the odd car by accident!) and keeping it cool through an Aussie summer was intense but not impossible. Nothing is impossible. I still constantly tell my body that “I am enough I have enough” i still struggle with bad supply days and this week I’ve dealt with my first clog, I fear mastitis daily but have avoided it thus far (touch wood). I am looking into training so i can help women facing the same challenges and get more over the hurdles of Tongue Ties, Upper Lip Ties, Reflux and now Intolerance’s. I am the crazy Tongue Tie lady quick to jump on forums where i see symptoms identical to ours and ask if baby has been checked for ties, I am then the crazy lady who sees keep fighting. If i hadn’t fought so hard who knows how Stuarts health, my sanity, my relationship would be. Financially it has hit us hard but we are slowly fighting back and i would go back and spend double if i had to.
I was recently asked what made me question the doctors and fight harder. i had to think for a minute and this is why. I fought because in my head babies have been breastfeeding since the dawn of humanity, before formula it was breastfeed or die, before formula wet nurses were called. Babies have to latch to survive so if a baby can’t latch something is wrong (this is how my head works) instead of blaming the mum, misshapen nipples and breast size we should be looking at babies mouths. Breastfeeding should work so if it doesn’t something needs fixing. Tha’ts what made me fight i knew something wasn’t right, because my baby needed milk to live and wanted milk, he wanted to latch and was trying but something was impeding it. Something so simple and obvious yet overlooked.
Temeaka Wyatt, mother of Stuart, is from Queensland, Australia