The Day I Got My Boobs Out For TV

I never set out to write about breastfeeding on this blog, but with our challenges with tongue tie, cows milk protein intolerance and of course various news stories about public feeding, it’s become one of my most frequent and most read topics. I guess the old adage of ‘write what you know’ applies even more than usual to blogging, and I do seem to spend rather a lot of my time feeding!

Whilst I’m not of the ‘flaunt it’ mindset, I’ve always been of the view that breastfeeding is both entirely natural and nothing to be squeamish about, so it should come as no real surprise that I recently agreed to get my boobs out for TV – all very tastefully and in the name of education of course!

I was lucky enough to be asked by Lansinoh to take part in a TV programme they’ve been making for mums-to-be about preparing for baby’s arrival, and particularly about their specialist subject, breastfeeding.

You may know Lansinoh as ‘the nipple cream in the purple tube’, and in fact they made it into one of my early blog posts about must have products for newborn babies. What I didn’t know until now was that they also have a host of other products, some of which are coming out in the UK for the first time this year, including breast pumps, bottles, sippy cups and teething rings. As a thank you for taking part in the filming I got a bit of a goody bag of products to try out which I’m sure I’ll write about at some point – we’re already converts to their ‘momma’ bottles which C is so much better with than the previous brand we were using.

Our contribution to the programme was to be interviewed, along with three other mums and their gorgeous babies, about our experiences of breastfeeding. Hopefully it’s given us a chance to spread the word a bit about tongue tie to help other mums in a similar position to us, although in retrospect I should probably have said a bit more about exactly what tongue tie is.

Given I’m a good stone (and a bit) heavier than I’d like to be, and hate the sound of my voice I’m pretty sure I’ll be cringing when I see it, but hopefully I don’t come across as too much of an idiot, and of course people can always be distracted by my boobs.

Oh yes, the boobs. That’s why you’re reading this, right? To find out about the boobs?
It was all a bit accidental really, I didn’t plan to feed C on TV. I actually started the interview with her sat on my lap, but despite having been angelic all day she promptly decided to cry. And cry, and cry.

And that’s one of the benefits of breastfeeding really, isn’t it? A ready made comforter perfect for such occasions. I’m pretty sure you can’t see anything untoward (apart from the bald patch on the back of C’s head), and I guess it wouldn’t really be much of a programme about breastfeeding without someone, well, breastfeeding!

Given I’d broken the ice by getting them out once, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to film an extra bit about different feeding positions too. And never one to shy away from the camera, G got in on the act with a piece about getting siblings involved.
I’ve not seen the finished programme so don’t know how much will make the final cut, but hopefully C will show slightly more than the back of her head in it, and I won’t have embarrassed myself too much.

And if she moans when she’s older about how embarrassing it is having TV footage of her feeding, I can remind her that she was actually just meant to smile and coo for the camera, so it’s all her own fault really.

Now all we have to do is wait for it to hit our telly boxes, and then decide whether to sit and hide behind my hands or do a little excited dance around the room…

We weren’t asked to write about our experience, and although we did get some free product we weren’t paid for this either. The photos of the day were kindly sent to me by Lansinoh/Cybher so are their copyright.

Tongue Tied – An Update

A little under a month ago I wrote about C having her posterior tongue tie released in the hope of improving her feeding and slow weight gain. And I figure it’s about time I gave an update!

Week 1 post snip was disappointing – zero weight gain despite lots and lots of angsty feeding from C. She had managed to pick up another cold so was snotty and sniffly, and we just had to hope that was the cause of no weight gain.

A week later and we were proved right with a chunky 4.5ozs weight gain – her best weekly weight gain since birth. And just to prove it wasn’t a fluke she’s gone on to put on increasing amounts of weight in the next two consecutive weeks, making it a total 19.5ozs weight gain over 3 weeks.

I’m loathe to bring up those cursed centile charts (imagine how we’d feel if they started giving average weight charts for adults based solely on age?!), but this weight gain means she’s been following a lovely curve on the chart, sitting neatly on the 50th centile.

Some will read that last sentence and think ’50th centile? What was she worried about?’, but given C was off the top of the chart at birth, that was still a pretty hefty drop for her. I’m grateful however that I didn’t have to worry about her dropping off the bottom of the chart, as many others do.

Beyond her weight gain, I can see that C has much improved mobility in her tongue, and for the first time recently I’ve started to see her reaching her tongue forward as she latches on – a really good sign that her feeding technique has improved. She’s also started to learn to roll from her front to her back, and started grabbing for toys on her play gym. So it’s been a pretty busy few weeks for her development wise.

I’d love to say she’s now a perfect feeder, but we still have plenty of angsty, screamy feeds, and she still manages to sick up most days (mostly aiming at her daddy it seems). But as long as I remember to stick to my dairy free diet it’s minimal and certainly nothing to worry about.

Given C’s tongue tie was quite minor and a number of health professionals told me it wouldn’t be affecting her feeding I’m astounded at the difference it’s made, and am really pleased we went ahead.

I’m also, however, astounded at the number of people I’ve met on this journey who have had delays in the diagnosis and/or treatment of their baby’s tongue tie, with some being forced to wait months for an NHS referral to come through, for what is a quick and simple procedure. Within that number are several who’ve felt bullied into giving formula top ups or giving up breastfeeding altogether as a result of delays to tongue tie diagnosis or treatment.

If anyone reading this is in that position then my advice would be to find an IBCLC certified lactation consultant who can advise on tongue tie and whether it is affecting feeding, then stand your ground, read all the evidence and push for the support and treatment you need.

And if you have access to private medical insurance eg through your or your partner’s work then do add baby to it as soon as possible – if I was facing a £250 bill for releasing C’s tongue tie I’m pretty sure I’d have had second thoughts and would probably still be stressing about weight gain.

Last but not least, NCT are campaigning for better identification and treatment of tongue tie and on their website have a template letter to send to your MP.

I’ve sent mine off today. Whether or not you’ve been affected by tongue tie as well, I’d urge you to do the same.

Tongue Tied

We’ve been backwards and forwards over C’s slow weight gain since soon after she was born, but hopefully after today we’ll have had a resolution.

C has – or should I say had – a thick posterior tongue tie, which means the movement of her tongue is restricted, preventing her from getting enough milk. This, combined with a suspected cows milk intolerance, helps explain her reflux symptoms, poor latch, frequent feeding and slow weight gain.

This afternoon we’ve been at the clinic having her tongue tie released – a simple, quick and safe procedure involving a pair of scissors and not much else – which hopefully will improve her feeding. Despite concerns it would be a bit traumatic (for mum as much as C!), it was over in a flash, with C’s tears as much from having her head and arms held still whilst it was carried out as anything else. It’s too early of course to say whether it’s worked, but my fingers are tightly crossed.

Tongue tie has been in the news lately, as NCT (the national childbirth trust) are running a campaign to improve the identification and treatment of tongue tie in the UK. C’s tongue tie was a quite mild form but has still affected her ability to breastfeed, so with tongue tie present in an estimated 10% of babies it’s not too much of an assumption that the UK’s poor record at successful breastfeeding could be linked.

Our tongue tie experience has not been atypical. We had three separate people telling us she wasn’t tongue tied before she was finally diagnosed, evidence both that posterior tongue ties are difficult to spot, and of the lack of provision for diagnosing and treating tongue tie in the UK.

In fact we’re about even now, with as many health practitioners saying that she has a tongue tie and that it is impacting on her breast feeding, as we have those who say she’s not tongue tied and releasing it won’t have any effect. Even the consultant today was unconvinced it would make any difference, but having exhausted other options it made sense to go ahead with the procedure.

As it is we’ve had to go private to get it fixed. Luckily I’d already added C to the BUPA cover we get through work, as despite it being a quick and simple procedure, the wait on the NHS would likely take us beyond the point at which it can be dealt with without general anaesthetic (around 14 weeks). With delays like this it’s little wonder that many mums have to ‘give up’ breast feeding before the problem is remedied, even if they do succeed in getting a diagnosis in the first place.

Hopefully the coverage of the condition will improve awareness and outcomes, though I’m sure parents will still need to push to get the help they need.

We’ll know whether it’s been successful over the next few weeks, and in the meantime it’s a case of wait, feed, and wait some more. Or perhaps more accurately; feed, wait, and feed some more.

Best get ready for some sleepless nights…

Weighing in

C was a big baby, weighing in at a whopping 11lbs 5ozs. But after going down to just under 10lbs 9ozs after birth (a loss of 7% so perfectly normal), she’s taken her time over regaining her birth weight.

Despite rapidly dropping down the weight centiles on the handy growth chart provided for paranoid mothers everywhere, it’s not something we’ve been particularly worried about. She has been gaining weight, albeit slowly, and is bright and alert with plenty of nappies to attest to her taking in her milk.

But you can’t help but wonder… Am I feeding her frequently enough, or for long enough? C has a fairly obvious lip tie, could that be affecting her weight gain? Is there a tongue tie hiding away in there too? Is there something wrong that I haven’t picked up on? Or is it as simple as her prolonged cold (now mostly gone thankfully) impacting her feeding?

Even though my midwife hasn’t been worried, who’s to say whether the next healthcare professional we see might suddenly be concerned that we aren’t fitting the ‘normal’ pattern, and launch us into a world of deadlines for gaining weight, feeding schedules and top up feeds? I’ve sadly known women feeling almost bullied out of breastfeeding in this way, despite the ‘breast is best’ mantra being echoed from every rooftop.

But this isn’t the time or place for the Great Feeding Debate. C shows every sign of being happy and healthy, and maybe she’s just inherited her father’s metabolism, which I’m sure she’ll be grateful for when the self conscious teenage years inevitably hit us.

I guess my concern is all just a natural extension of what my other half calls ‘fretful mother syndrome’ – an apparently unavoidable side effect of becoming a mother, even with a second child. I say ‘mother’ without wanting to be sexist here – I’m yet to find a father who suffers with this, but I’m sure they’re out there somewhere as well.

Anyhow, I digress. But with all this running through my mind, you can imagine how pleased I was that at the grand old age of 7 weeks, C has finally regained her birth weight, plus a teeny bit extra just for the hell of it. Go C!

Whilst comparing does nobody any good, she’s no longer a particularly ‘big’ baby – in fact she’s over a pound lighter than her sister was at this age. This at least means her 0-3 month clothes should last us a bit longer.

Whilst I’m happy she’s gained the weight, I was less happy to remember that this also marks the end of our journey with our fabulous midwife, Lisa, who officially signed us off yesterday. I’ll write some other time about my experience with her and One to One midwives, but suffice to say we will miss her, lots.

And given Lisa has been the main person talking me out of my fretful mother moments so far, I guess we should expect plenty more of them in the future.