Babies & boobies - Ruth's breastfeeding story

My little one was born with a very strong suck and very hungry! She fed and fed and fed for the first twelve hours after she was born which was great news for us.

Unfortunately, she was born not knowing how to manage the natural gape reflex - the tongue down action that all babies "should" instinctively do which meant that she caused a lot of damage to my nipples. She was checked for a tongue tie but didn't have one so I had to adopt nipple shields to be able to keep on breastfeeding.
I found that feeding got harder, rather than easier, over the next few days. Firstly, my little one got jaundice and lost too much weight so we had to stay in the hospital for a few extra days, force feeding her to get her weight back up which proved a challenge as she kept falling asleep at the breast and it was a struggle to finish a feed - such a contrast from her first few hours! 

Because of this, when we got home I became incredibly engorged and she still wasn't feeding strongly so I was in a lot of pain.... unfortunately, it turned into a breast infection.
This necessitated antibiotics which upset my little one even more and made her fussy during feeding, just as she was starting to get back that strong suck she was born with.
We had a lactation consultant come see us and were told that she wasn't getting enough milk when she was sucking because of the nipple shields, but due to the way she places her tongue I just couldn't stand the pain of feeding without them.
After a few weeks of anxiety over every feed that she wasn't 'getting enough milk' she regained her birth weight and started growing like a weed, gaining over 400 grams in one week! 

I am still using the shields as we have not yet worked out a way to get her to learn to put her tongue down when she feeds, despite visits to the Plunket Karitane Centre for help. I tell myself that the important thing is that I am still breastfeeding and I should count myself lucky as there are many women who aren't able to do it at all. 

I have hope that eventually we will be able to feed without any of the paraphernalia!


  1. I had similar trouble with my son. He couldn't latch without nipple shields for the first few months and repeatedly pulled off the breast in frustration as his latch wasn't giving him enough milk. It was really hard going at times but it did get better. We were able to stop using nipple shields and he is now 13 months and a fabulous feeder. I'm so glad I stuck with it. Good luck and good on you for persevering so far.

  2. Thanks ladies! I forwarded your post onto Ruth who really appreciated the comment - it's always nice to know you're not alone. Things are looking up, her wee one is getting better by the day. Glad to hear you guys have done so well x


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