I'm going to tell you a little story about my second experience with breastfeeding. I won't delve into my first too much as, even 3 years on, that wound is still open. I ask that you simply bear in mind it turned me into a 'lactivist', and broke my heart and any trust in the medical system here.
Onto the story.
In December 2013 I went into labour. Everything went pretty well, and breastfeeding kicked off to a great start, he was nearly back to birth weight at the end of the first week.
We didn't really start to have issues until about 10wks when his weight wasn't keeping up to expectations. Like a good, naive mother, I kept going to the increasingly common health nurse visits, all the while coming to my own conclusions. His latch wasn't right without correction, not deep and he was suffering from silent reflux. My mind had reached the conclusion of ties, and with some advice from friends, I brought it up with the health nurse.
She confirmed his upper lip tie, as it was totally obvious, but refused to acknowledge his posterior tongue tie as 'it didn't show the signs'.
We (my partner and I) made the decision to book him in for a tie revision. That appointment meant we had to drive 8hrs south, but thankfully the highly skilled dentist confirmed our concerns. She lasered his ties (both ULT and PTT) and 2 minutes later our happy go lucky boy was himself again, with an awesome latch to boot.
The joy was not to last, however, and by 5 months old he still wasn't gaining weight appropriately. This created a referral to a paediatrician and a barely veiled threat that if we didn't attend, child services would be contacted. By this point we had already started supplementing with a goats milk, commercial formula.
The paediatrician appointment went as expected. “So, what's wrong with your milk?” was the first sentence out of her mouth after pleasantries had been exchanged. I let my partner take over with the conversation, as my speaking may have resulted in trouble for myself.
We brought up the idea of a dairy intolerance. She didn't take us seriously, and didn't test nor suggest anything to prove it. Said it had to be the calorie content of my milk, and to increase the amount of his supplementation.
We tried donor milk for a while, but it didn't help. In fact, we had no confirmation of our intolerance concerns until we tried a cows milk formula and it made our poor baby quite sick. Problem solved, except I barely had any milk left and he was no longer latching.
This bullshit is what women face day in and day out. This is what tears us down and ruins our breastfeeding journey, breaks our hearts and leaves us stranded wondering what just happened.
It may seem that breastfeeding is pushed hard, but apparently not hard enough to make it mandatory for health professionals to have a greater understanding of lactation and potential issues.
No. We are still a formula happy society and many of our medical staff continue to represent this.
It's time for information to be shared in every possible avenue. It is time for women to have free or affordable access to real help. It is definitely time to wake up and smell reality, because the reality is, millions of women are giving up, or being forced away from breastfeeding. That is just NOT ON!