My baby is not gaining weight…
“I was desperate by the time my son was 3 weeks old. I wanted to breastfeed but no matter how often and for how long he was nursing (an hour and a half at times), he lost 11% of his birth weight and was failing to gain it back.
The hospital and community midwives were saying it all looks fine and to supplement with formula. I attended two breastfeeding clinics near home to help with my blocked ducts and possible mastitis but most importantly to find out what I was doing wrong and why he was not gaining any weight. The lactation counsellors there said that I am doing great, his latch was perfect, it all looked good. But my son continued to fail to gain enough weight and we were rushed to A&E when he was 3 weeks old.
Two paediatricians there said the child is fine, and to simply up the formula. I was relieved that he was healthy and devastated at the same time. In my desperation, I hired a private lactation consultant who diagnosed a posterior tongue tie and said that sadly I may never be able to exclusively breastfeed him as my supply had almost diminished by then due to his inefficient nursing. She told me I could have the tongue tie treated but I did not want to put him through an invasive procedure unless absolutely necessary so I asked what else I could do instead. For the next 7 weeks I followed a gruelling routine of frequent (as before and more) feeds, followed by pumping using an electric breast pump to increase my supply. It hardly left me time to eat and sleep. By week 10 I had brought my supply up to normal (I measured it by expressing over 24 hours). Unfortunately, my son continued to suffer poor weight gain, the health visitors could only suggest formula top ups and I realised that it was definitely not only my supply that was the problem, the baby could not get to the milk even if it was there.
Not only that but if I stopped pumping for only a couple of days my supply would go down. I discussed it with my husband (who is also tongue tied and has suffered dental and eating problems because of it) and I finally got the referral to have the tongue tie clipped by a paediatric surgeon when he was 16 weeks.
It took a few weeks for my son to learn to use his new tongue but from that day on I did not need to use the pump to maintain my supply. My son climbed two percentiles on the weight charts by being exclusively breastfed and I finally realised what breastfeeding SHOULD be like; what I saw other mums and babies enjoy while we were both struggling.
It hurt me to have him subjected to any pain and I did not do it light-heartedly, but I know that had we not done it we would not be able to continue breastfeeding. I did enough research before I decided to go ahead with the clipping. I learned what the procedure entails by asking other mothers who had been through it and I weighed the pros and cons. More importantly, I tried very hard to avoid it if possible, but breastfeeding was not possible for us without it, so I am happy with the decision I made and with the results.
My son is 13 months and we are still breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is natural, so is birth, but sometimes problems and complications arise. Treatment is needed. When that treatment is only a minor operation with no significant risks involved and can help mothers and babies achieve breastfeeding, it makes sense to provide it”.
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