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Breech, tongue-tie, nipple shields & a non-latching baby - Shaurne

As soon as I found out we were pregnant, I was set on two things: firstly that I wanted to breastfeed by any means necessary and secondly that I wanted our girl to be birthed naturally. Our journey started out a bit bumpier than anticipated...

We were told that our little girl was still breech at 37 weeks and after an unsuccessful ECV (external

cephalic version procedure to try to turn the baby) my gynae and midwife suggested we opt for an

elective caesarean section at 39 weeks. I was shattered not only because I would not be able to experience natural birth but because of the fear that my baby might not latch properly. (I had flat nipples which were a concern for me, and I had heard from a relative that breach babies struggle more to latch; I didn't know how true this was, but the possibility still lingered on in the back of my mind.)

The birth went well and at 8:52 am on the 25th of April we were blessed with a beautiful 3kg baby girl. After the necessary Apgar tests, my midwife brought my little girl onto my chest and she immediately started searching for the breast. I found it amazing how it was absolutely natural for a baby to look for the breast. I remember the tears of joy knowing that this part, this bonding experience was real and that I would do anything to make it last. However, as I feared, she just wouldn't latch on. My nipple would only stay erect enough for it to fit into her little mouth and would then flatten again because she was struggling.

Our girl was frustrated, I was frustrated and we were both in tears. She for not understanding

and I for feeling like an absolute failure as a mom. I mean this is what my breasts were intended

for; to feed her, and they just weren't doing the job...

After numerous tries and further investigations to why this was happening, we realised she had a tongue tie. My support team of midwives called in the paediatrician and my own mother for my support.

This was the lowest point of frustration and guilt I have ever reached and felt. I was so disappointed in myself for not being able to provide a basic need to my baby and I was left with the guilt that she would now need to have her tongue tie cut.

Whilst we waited for the paediatrician, my midwife guided me on how to hand express the colostrum. If she wouldn't latch on, we would at least make a plan for her to have the gold sticky goodness. I had promised myself by all means necessary so if this is what it took, I would do it.

Another nurse suggested that we use the edge of a sterilized syringe (without the needle) to withdraw the colostrum. This worked well and she could finally be fed.

It took less than 2 minutes for the minor procedure of cutting the tongue tie, but it felt like 10 hours. I remember not being able to see because my tears were blinding me. My mom and fiancè kept reassuring me that this was the best for her and that everything would be okay.

The paediatrician immediately put her on my breast after the procedure and explained that the

colostrum would heal her wound. It would act as a natural antibiotic and a sedative. But she still

wouldn't latch on. So we did the next best thing. We left her at the breast (skin-to-skin) and we fed

her the colostrum with a syringe. The paediatrician suggested that we use a nipple shield and

that it might work for her; so off went her daddy to go get a set.

Success!! She finally latched onto the breast with the help of the shield. It wasn't ideal but it was our

version of perfection. She guzzled at the breast and she finally had a good helping of colostrum straight from the source. I promise you, this was the proudest moment of my life. I was so proud of how much my baby girl had achieved in less than 24 hours. I was proud that I didn't give in to formula and that we


We were hoping that she would eventually latch onto the breast itself. I didn't want the shield to

become a barrier.

We are now 3 months, or exactly 105 days into our breastfeeding journey. And I say ours because her daddy is just as much involved in it as we are. Breastfeeding has it's own little ritual in our house. The shield is sterilised whilst her daddy dances with her, and then she is placed onto my breast, either lying down on the bed or in a rugby ball hold on our lazy boy couch. Often, he will lie with us and watch her feed. It's beautiful.

We still use the nipple shield and now see it as a helping tool to assist us instead of a barrier. We will

continue to encourage the breast itself.

In 3 months, we have learned that breastfeeding is almost like a sport. The more you practice, the

better you become at it. It takes patience and perseverance, but in the end, the good days most definitely outweigh the bad.

Breastfeeding has become our mantra and we do it with pride.

We have come so far on this journey and we have a long way to go. But we are excited and we look forward with anticipation.

Written by Shaurne Bosman

LLLSA comment:

Some newborn babies struggle to latch initially. There may be multiple reasons for this, birth

trauma, tongue-ties, prematurity etc. It is important to get experienced breastfeeding help during

this time to help express breastmilk and feed it to the baby in a different way until the baby is ready

to latch.

For more information on tongue ties

For more information on nipple shields


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