When US mum Jordan Talley’s newborn began struggling to breastfeed, things rapidly took a turn for the absolute worst. Now Jordan’s sharing her story in the hopes that it will help other mums …
Breast is best?
After a tricky experience with breastfeeding her first baby, Jordan was determined to succeed with her second child.
“We spent the first two hours of her life smiling, taking photos, and breastfeeding on and off … her latch seemed good,” Jordan explained. “Her tiny lips looked to me as if they were as wide as they could go, and her mouth was moving, so I assumed that she was eating well. I had never exclusively breastfed, so I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect.”
Jordan checked in with a lactation consultant when she was discharged from hospital to ensure all was well, and flagged that feeding was proving painful. She was advised that Lucy had a shallow latch – and given instruction on latching “deeper” to correct this.
“I followed all the rules in the book when we got home from the hospital … I was prepared to nail this breastfeeding thing,” Jordan told Love What Matters.
“I was starting to get nervous”
Despite absolutely valiant efforts, what followed was not nailing it – but rather, really exhausting and upsetting days. Baby Lucy was feeding very often – often every 30 minutes – then either falling asleep mid-feed – or screaming and pulling way from the breast.
Jordan was suffering too, as breastfeeding was still proving painful, but the committed mum pushed on, hoping things would resolve themselves eventually.
“I was starting to get nervous that my body wasn’t making enough milk for her,” Jordan later explained.
A visit to the paediatrician confirmed that Lucy was still losing weight, and the doctor advised Jordan to feed as often as she could. A week later, a repeat visit showed the baby was still not back to her birth weight – she was 6 pounds 8 ounces at birth, and down to 6 pounds 1 ounce at the 2 week mark.
“Her eyes were dull and sunken”
When a concerned Jordan asked her baby’s doctor whether a tongue-tie might be the issue, “he peeked in her mouth and said that she did not have any ties.”
Two weeks later – when Lucy was one month old – things were no better and Jordan was becoming more and more worried about her baby.
“My sweet girl had lost her chubby cheeks. Her eyes were dull and sunken in.”
She was looking very unwell and had still not reached her birth weight. She returned to her paediatrician who didn’t share Jordan’s concern.
“The doctor came in and examined Lucy,” Jordan remembers. “He said she looked fine, but that my milk probably didn’t have enough calories in it for what she needed.”
“They just tire themselves out”
He advised Jordan the next step was to supplement Lucy’s feeds with formula, and poor Jordan left feeling utterly defeated and unsure of what to do next.
“I headed to the grocery store and nursed Lucy before going in,” Jordan remembers. “When she was finished, I snapped a picture of her ‘milk drunk’ expression and posted in a Facebook group explaining our situation and seeking support.”
“One woman commented, ‘Just in the photo you’ve shared, I can see that her hand is in a closed fist. That is typically not ‘full and content’ but actually fatigue from inefficient nursing. They just tire themselves out.’”
A tongue tie and a lip tie
This was a turning point for Jordan and Lucy, thank goodness, as brilliant women rallied and referred them to the help they needed. Jordan promptly found her way to a lactation consultant in her area – and everything changed very, very quickly. For the better.
“The next day, I met Amanda. Within minutes of meeting Lucy, she had diagnosed both a tongue tie and a lip tie. She watched Lucy eat, and even commented that it ‘definitely wasn’t a supply issue.’ I felt immediate relief. Amanda’s presence, reassurance, and bags of donor breast milk brought me such a peace.”
A tongue or lip tie means there’s tissue which shouldn’t be there attaching (or tying) the lip or tongue to the floor of the mouth. It stops the tongue from moving as it should and impacts babies’ feeding dramatically.
The difference was instant
Once Lucy had finally been properly diagnosed (thanks to Jordan’s mama bear determination) it was quickly corrected and everything shifted.
“Amanda referred me to someone who performed tongue tie and lip tie revisions. With Amanda’s referral and the urgency of Lucy’s situation, we were able to have the revisions performed the next day” Jordan writes.
“Immediately after the procedure, I got to nurse Lucy. As soon as she latched, I could feel a difference. It didn’t hurt anymore.”
Before the procedure, Lucy couldn’t lift her tongue high enough to latch on the breast and feed properly. She simply couldn’t get the milk she needed because the membrane attached to tongue and lip restricted the required movement.
After the procedure, which sees the tissue securing the tongue and/or lip corrected, she was able to suck much more effectively – and fill her little tummy at long last. Jordan was also able to breastfeed without pain for the first time in over a month.
“We need more lactation consultants”
In the days that followed, a much happier Lucy began chunking up immediately! It took just two weeks for her to transform from a sickly, hungry bub to a more robust and happy baby girl.
A very relived Jordan shared her story in the hopes of helping other struggling mums and babies.
“I 100% believe that there needs to be more awareness to these underlying issues that complicate breastfeeding. We need more lactation consultants. We need more Amanda’s in the world that will help us access resources like donor breast milk, or someone who can revise ties. We need someone in our corner that we can text at 11:00 at night and get help.”
We couldn’t agree more and commend this great mum on her determination and commitment.
If you and your baby are having problems establishing breastfeeding in those early days, get in touch with the Australian Breastfeeding Association. They can provide guidance and resources – and they have a phone helpline available too.
A huge thanks to Jordan for sharing her experience with other parents. Read the full story – in Jordan’s own words – at Love What Matters.