“He just doesn’t like milk” I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been told this over the last 7 months.
Felix had lots of problems during my pregnancy and when he arrived with us. Probably the least worrying of all of his issues was his feeding. You might wonder why I say least as its pretty essential that a baby feeds. I say least because he was tube fed for the first 7 days of his life. When the time came to feed him from me he could never complete feeds but this was put down to the fact that breast-feeding is much more tiring for babies and poor Felix didn’t have any energy. All of his energy was being used up on learning to breathe by himself. So there began our pumping and bottle-feeding journey.
His issues with milk started pretty soon after we got home. He didn’t feed well from the bottle but it was always put down to his rough start. He always took just (and I mean just) enough to sustain himself but never slept well because he was hungry. He continued to not complete his feeds because he was exhausted from lack of food. From there on we got stuck in a vicious cycle.
Fast forward 7 months and milk is no longer a big issue with us. Felix was weaned at 4.5 months so that he could get his energy and nutrition from solids. He went crazy for food and finally started to put on some decent weight. But when his top teeth started appearing we came across a problem. He had ulcers on his cutting teeth and screamed for days on end. I then noticed a gap between his front teeth. This prompted me to look and what I found was a lip tie. Not just a basic lip tie but a really severe one. I was horrified but not surprised to find something that actually answered our feeding problems. A mum just knows when something is wrong and I felt like I had spent 7 months telling people something was wrong only to be told “he doesn’t like milk”
After to taking him to see the GP and having a visit from my health Visitor Felix was diagnosed with a severe lip AND tongue tie. Felix can’t lift his tongue at all. This went missed for 7 whole months. Essentially my baby was starving for 5 of those months but of course lip and tongue were never checked because it is only routinely checked in breastfed babies.
I'm very supportive of breastfeeding, just as I am Bottle-feeding. I have no opinion on the matter aside from make sure your baby is well fed. What I do now have a strong opinion on is the fact that bottle fed babies are not checked for tongue and lip tie. It is assumed that babies who bottle-feed will not be affected by being tied which is completely incorrect. A baby should latch onto the bottle just as it does a breast. Lots of babies feed incorrectly from the bottle (even without tongue and lip tie) but no one gives it much thought. Mums are not taught how to make sure their baby is feeding correctly from a bottle so that they don't take down air etc. and many babies struggle because of it. It feels like mums who bottle-feed their babies are just not taken seriously with feeding issues. Felix was never able to feed well but it was always attributed to being fussy, being exhausted, reflux and wait for it.......not liking milk and just wanting food. At one point a heart condition was being discussed because of his exhaustion. Yet not one person looked in his mouth to see if there was an issue.
Let me now tell you what a late tongue and or lip tie diagnosis means. It means that his milk feeds are no longer a requirement so it's deemed "non essential" that treatment is given. It means he has a gap between his top teeth and it means that his speech could very well be impaired. Medical professionals like to "wait" for the speech to be impaired before treatment is given (unless you can persuade them otherwise) Treatment is in the form of a general anesthetic in hospital.
We won't be waiting for the treatment at 2 years old. If that means private care is undertaken then we will. Felix has been through allot in his 7 months and I'm simply not prepared to wait for his speech to be behind or send my toddler in for an operation when he will understand what's going on around him, especially when it could have all been avoided. I think it's essential that he is able to communicate with his peers and us. Not least because he is very quiet. We can already see that his speech is behind. He only started blowing bubbles this month. Felix needs a voice and I'm simply not prepared to wait and see what happens. I don't want to hand my child over for an operation at any age but if it is an option between now or in another 1-2 years time then it's going to be now.
My opinion on breastfeeding and bottle-feeding hasn't changed but my opinion on the way in which bottle fed mums and babies are treated most certainly has. In a day an age where bottle-feeding is very common it simply isn't acceptable to not check every single baby for these 2 conditions at their newborn check. It takes a minute to check them at birth. It would have taken a minute for it to have been checked at ALL of our endless appointments to discuss his feeding issues. If he had of been checked our first 5 months with him would have been very different and he wouldn't have become hungry and exhausted.
Only last week I wrote about our amazing experience with Felix in Neonatal. I still stand by that post but as soon as we walked out of that door he has been let down by medical professionals at every hurdle. And I feel that as a bottle-feeding mum I have been let down too. I have a fight on my hands now but it is a fight that I will win.
No one feels guiltier about this late diagnosis than me. This is in no way an anti breastfeeding post. I think breastfeeding is amazing and I would have loved to have breastfed Felix but that doesn’t change the fact that I couldn’t and the support my baby needed to thrive was not there because he was bottle-fed.
Check your babies for lip and tongue tie regardless of how you feed them and if you aren’t sure insist someone checks them. You wont be wasting anyone’s time by doing so.