Feeding a baby born with tongue tie

Before I had even held or seen my little boy after he had been born by C-section, the nurse came over and told me that he had a tongue tie. My groggy and foggy memory recalls me asking if they could cut it there and then (as there were at least 10 medical professionals in the room and he was crying anyway!) yet I was told that they couldn’t without having a referral. We were told the tongue tie might not hinder him at all so to go about my chosen feeding method as I was planning. He was a huge baby weighing in at 10 pounds 6 and I suspected, like his brother, would have the appetite to match so I planned to breastfeed if I could until I weaned over to the bottle at three or four months in.

Little one was placed on me for the first feed shortly after I left theatre and he took to it and happily had a half hour feed. Like his brother, who had also gone on first time, I suspected it wouldn’t always be this easy. And I was right.

Over the next few days, breast feeding became trickier. My newborn was clearly taking in a lot of air as he fed and this led to him being really uncomfortable after a feed. To try and compensate, I was relatching him numerous times to try and work around the tongue tie and pockets of air but to little avail. The midwife watched me feed, confirmed it was probably because of the tongue tie and advised me to try with bottles with expressed milk whilst she processed the referral. Little one found a bottle easier to latch onto and took down less air resulting in a more comfortable session both before and after. I decided to express whilst waiting for the referral to come through.

I knew from the midwife that the current turnaround time was roughly two weeks from referral to consulting and the snip but this was a lifetime in newborn feeding time. I phoned a private hospital to find out if they could do the procedure. They could. The next day. For £400. By the same doctor we were waiting to hear from at the hospital. Exasperated was the word!

Expressing was becoming a pain in the arse. It was easier when I had just one child as I could express whilst he slept, fed or had downtime but my eldest was 16 months and whenever I started to express, he became hell bent on finding the one remotely dangerous thing in the room and falling on it / eating it / poking it in his eye etc.  Trying to express up to 30oz a day (my prediction of the huge appetite was right) took careful planning of meals and water intake. I expressed the most milk when I had just had a meal, my water intake had been good and was in a calm atmosphere – try as I might, it was hard to align these with two under 18 months.

I was frustrated. Really frustrated and had these thoughts swimming around:

1.His brother exclusively breast fed throughout the first two months of his life and I wanted the littlest man to get the same.

2.Interestingly, it was during these five weeks when the advice came in to stop pushing breast feeding as much to promote mental well-being more in new mums. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5832733/Midwives-ordered-not-judge-new-mothers-choose-bottle-feed.html

3.With more expressed feeding, I was getting decent chunks of sleep and hubby was doing a night time bottle feeding and this was lovely for them (and for me!)

A friend came to visit us one weekend and stay for a couple of days. It coincided with me feeling at my lowest about the feeding / expressing situation. I remember something very clearly -I was upstairs expressing alone in the bedroom getting a successful amount of milk out with no interruptions. Laughter, talking and shrieks of delight drifted up the stairs and I realised something…I was aiming to spend more quality alone time with my breast pump than my newborn and eldest.

Yes, breast milk was a good start in life but I was missing out and so were my children – we were missing out on each other. I should be cuddling my little one all I want and building my relationship with him, instead I was spending increasingly more one to one time with my breast pump. Mid flow, I switched off the pump, decanted the milk into a collection bag, went and popped it in the fridge before joining my husband and friend where I discovered them trying to teach my eldest to jump. I didn’t miss his first jump, but I could have very easily.

From this day, I decided to combination feed and I’ve never looked back. Parenthood is all about getting the balance.

Since then, my youngest had his tongue tie cut and we had to learn to feed and latch to bottles and to me all over again. The procedure was so quick. The doctor made a very small cut and how far little one lifted his tongue determined how far the tongue tie split. Only when it was done did I realise how odd it was that I hadn’t ever seen the tip of my son’s tongue! For the first week he took down milk quicker than his little system could deal with and we entered the ‘yak’ phase where more came out than went down and with many an outfit change – both him and me! But we made it. My little one is now feeding successfully, keeping it down, gaining weight and smiling. I’ve accepted my boys had different starts in life, I sometimes feel the need to defend and explain myself but one look at my little boy who is wonderful ball of squishy cuddles and smiles (and teething at three months!) and there is no regret. He will grow up surrounded by love and nurture no matter whether he has a nipple or a teat shoved in his mouth for the first few months.

Aptamil vs Cow and Gate – is there a difference?

When I asked my husband to pick up a bottle of ready to drink formula for the ‘just in case’ situation, off he went to the supermarket to be met with at least 5 shelves of these formula products. Choosing one, he came home and when I asked him what one he had got, he said “I got the most expensive one because that probably means it’s the best.” I totally understood where he was coming from. We hadn’t put anything in our little boy apart from breastmilk so if we were to introduce him to something else, we both had the same mindset of ‘only the best will do for my child’.

If you haven’t purchased ready to drink formula before then the prices do vary considerable for the first stage milk. If you go with a brand that is stocked in all the major supermarkets then you will pay probably between 75p and 99p for one 200ml bottle. Our little guy is on 5 feeds a day at the moment so £4.95 to feed him for one day if we gave him Aptamil Profutura  all day or £3.75 if we went with Cow and Gate. Not a huge difference but scale that up to a seven days worth of feeding and there is a difference of £7.7o between the two major brands and a difference of just over £400 for the year. The powder tubs of formula also have significant savings. Based on 5 feeds a day for a year with each feed being a 7oz/210ml feed and needing seven 4.5g scoops of powder – Aptamil Profutura (which has 100g less in each tub than Cow and Gate) would cost approximately £923 a year (for 71 tubs at £13 each) and Cow and Gate would cost about £576 a year (for 64 tubs at £9 each) which means a saving of £347.

With my breast-feeding position of choice being the rugby ball position, I found it was near-on impossible to feed my son in public without the mountain of pillows I used at home, so rather than be a slave to a feeding routine at home, if I wanted to leave the house and a feed was imminent, I popped a bottle of ready to drink formula in my bag.

This routine was fine until I noticed that my son was suffering with quite a lot of wind and I was keen to see if it was what I was feeding him rather than him just possibly being a windy baby,

So I decided to do some research to find out what the difference between the brands were and whether it would be detrimental if I switched to the cheaper version. Whether the following things can be confirmed or not seems shrouded in some mystery but:

  1. The recipe for infant formula is set by the government so basically all formula has the same things in;
  2. What seems to set the price is how much of a particular ingredient is in the formula. There is some discussion online at Aptamil spend more on research and product packaging. But if the government set the guidelines then what exactly are they researching?;
  3. There is a lot of suggestion that Cow and Gate and Aptamil formula are both made in the same factory in Ireland;
  4. Lots of people parents have found wind issues have been eased by switching between brands in both directions.

I decided to try him for some feeds on a different brand to see if it made a difference. It appeared to so, over the course of a couple of weeks, I weaned him over from the most expensive commercially available brand to the least expensive. This was especially handy as my maternity pay packet was getting slimmer by the month,

I discussed this switch with a mummy friend who said she had to do something similar and had exactly the same experience as me that there is a ‘Tesco finest’ image around the Aptamil Profutura formula and since switching, she has had, at times, felt a bit more self-conscious pulling Cow and Gate from the changing bag rather than Aptamil in public. Whilst I don’t feel get the same feelings, I could empathise as when I was shopping with my Mum as a teenager, I always used to ask her to hold my Primark bag as I didn’t want to be seen with it!

With it being unclear as to why exactly there is a significant difference in price, I think you just have to follow the signs your little one is giving you. My son told me that there was something in the Aptamil Profutura which made him incredibly windy and my bank account was grateful for the change!