My Breastfeeding Journey with Roma

the other day, I was out to lunch with my new group of mom friends (friends I made with local mamas due within the same few weeks as me) and I was lamenting about my nursing experience thus far. I was saying how discouraging it has been. Roma has been troublesome to nurse, mainly because she can’t seem to keep her latch and she keeps breaking it while nursing, causing her to take in a lot of air and then spit up… a lot!

I knew going into it that every baby is different.  however, I thought, given that I had 16 months of nursing experience under my belt, that it wouldn’t be that hard to adjust. I figured, “oh, I know how to do this!” and then, as I was talking to my friends, it hit me: this isn’t my first time nursing, but it’s my baby’s first time nursing. it’s not Roma’s fault or my fault, we’re doing this together and it’s her first time, so I need to learn with her. after saying that aloud (that it’s Roma’s first time nursing), I felt immediately better. her and I are learning together, and I’m not a failure because I can’t get her to nurse perfectly right away – this is ALL new to her.

nursing roma

when Roma was first born, I was so excited that, right after giving birth, she went straight for the boob! she latched right on, but it wasn’t the best latch – it was pretty shallow. however, I was in such a post-birth blissful state, I didn’t really pay attention to that, I just let her do her thing. so, for the first 3 or 4 days, I had pretty sore nipples, with a little bit of cracking/bleeding on one of them.

once I got home from the hospital, I immediately got my milk in (on day 3 postpartum) and was instantly engorged. I started focusing on the latch, but I was so engorged, that was hard to do. after pumping out the milk to relieve the engorgement and focusing on bettering the latch (using all that I knew from nursing Luca all those months), she latched better and my sore nipples immediately went away, but she still kept breaking the latch, resulting in a lot of clicking and it caused her to gag and choke from the milk flowing in too quickly and forcefully. she couldn’t handle the forceful letdown and oversupply that I had, especially because she had a mild tongue tie and her tongue couldn’t extend fully to accommodate the milk. it was so scary, her little body gasping for air.

aside from the gagging and choking, she takes in all this extra air and spits up a lot and gets the hiccups easily. plus, she gets fussy easily, because she often has painful gas to pass or a burp/spit up she needs to make. at night, this is sometimes really bad and she’s up for hours grunting, trying to pass gas. usually, we can soothe her to sleep but rocking her and I think this just distracts her from her stomach pains. we’ve tried gripe water and that seems to work during the day, but not so much at night. gripe water is a savior for the hiccups though in the middle of the night, it clears them up right away 90% of the time for us!

oversupply and overactive letdown

to help combat the oversupply and overactive letdown issue, I started nursing Roma leaned back (sometimes totally leaned back, if it’s first thing in the morning and I’m super full.) this has really helped, because she has to work against gravity to extract the milk and it doesn’t just spray down her throat! I find that she doesn’t click as much (her little tongue doesn’t have to work as hard) and the spitup is much less or doesn’t happen at all. however, when I’m out, it’s pretty hard to do this, so nursing out of the house is still a struggle.

as for the overactive letdown, my LC suggested hand expressing a bit to get the letdown out, but I just don’t have that time usually and I just don’t want to add all these additional steps and then not be able to leave my nursing spot. plus, having a toddler and not having the luxury of being able to time things like that, it just didn’t seem like a logistical option for me. however, what I will do, is use the Haaka pump on one boob while I’m nursing Roma on the other, so that when she latches on to the other boob, the letdown will be caught and the milk will flow more slowly. however, Roma rarely nurses on two breasts, so now I just have a little freezer stash (I get 1.5-3oz per boob per Haaka session) and Luca drinks the rest, if he’s around.

tongue tied

after our first visit to the pediatrician, she said Roma has a mild tongue tie and gave me a referral to see an ENT who can perform a snip of the tongue tie. I never did this with Luca and as a result, I suffered through 10 months of spitup hell. this time, I thought, let me go to this consultation and perhaps snipping the tongue tie will clear this all up. so, in I went, got Roma’s tongue tie snipped and she immediately latched on, opened her mouth nice and wide, and we had a great nursing session. she didn’t gag at all (she actually hasn’t gagged/choked at all since the procedure still) click much at all (maybe once) and didn’t spit up. I had to do some exercises at home with her tongue and other than that, it should be solved! right?

not right. the next day, it was almost like everything had gone back “to normal” and she was clicking away again. so, I had my old lactation consultant from Luca come and take a look a little less than a week later. she saw that the tongue tie was closing up again (I wasn’t pressing firmly enough during the tongue exercises) and so she reopened it a bit and we had a consultation. Roma was nursing well, actually took in 5oz on one breast, which is crazy (newborns usually take in 1.5-3oz per nursing session.) she helped remind me of a few techniques to keep in mind while nursing, which help with keeping her latch but what she told me was, PT is important. just like after breaking a leg, you need to do some sort of PT to reteach the muscles. a tongue is a muscle and it needs PT after the tie is snipped, so little Roma can relearn how to use it.

keeping positive and moving forward

so, my next stage is the PT. I have my first appointment tomorrow, and I’m very curious to see what the therapist has to say. the pediatrician and my lactation consultant said that Roma is very stiff, which can certainly affect breastfeeding, so I’m hoping to see improvement after a few sessions with PT.

to be honest, I texted a mom friend the other day and said, “I just feel like throwing in the towel.” she kindly reminded me that a) Roma is only 4.5 weeks old and is still learning, b) she’s growing at an above average rate for the breastfed baby so we’re doing great, and c) I’m lucky to be able to have a milk supply and not struggle with issues that I can’t control.

we’re so tough on ourselves (especially as mothers) to be perfect. to be perfect in all aspects of our lives, especially the ones we have no or little control over. when we don’t meet our lofty expectations of ourselves, we’re disappointed, discouraged, and start questioning our own worth. I’m trying to focus on the positives with nursing Roma, like that she’s growing well (she’s in the 86th percentile for weight, which is very rare for exclusively breastfed babies!) and I’m able to bond with her in the most special way.

I will keep you posted in this journey and I remember having the exact same struggles with Luca and it took 3-4 months for us to find our groove. I’m hoping this happens sooner with Roma and I, but I’m just taking it one day at a time. some days, she barely spits up and she nurses beautifully. on other days, we can’t get out of the house because she latches poorly and spits up endlessly. cheers to doing our best as mamas and taking it day by day!

nursing favorites

here are my favorite products that have made my nursing experience better that I recommend:

1. spectra 1 breast pump: I had the spectra 2 with Luca, but it wasn’t rechargeable, so I had to always be tethered to an outlet. the s1 is rechargeable, so it’s nice that I can move with it, especially with a toddler, sometimes I have to jump up quick!

2. nursing bra: I love the Kindred Bravely bra the most, but I also have Bravado Designs bras that I use as well. the Kindred Bravely bras are much better quality and more comfortable!

3. pumping bra: this is my go-to pumping bra and sometimes I wear it all day, if I know I’ll be out and have to pump (it is also a nursing bra.) it’s the best I’ve found to accommodate large busts and be hands free!

4. nursing tanks: I live in these, they’re so comfortable and I find that they offer decent support! with a little cardigan over (or a cropped sweater), they’re a bit less cleavage-y!

5. haaka pump: I talked about this above, but it’s great for catching your letdown which would have been otherwise wasted!

6. lansinoh milk storage bags: when I do pump, I pour the milk right into these bags and store them in the below container.

7. milk storage containers for the freezer: an easy way to store your breastmilk that’s compact and fits in even if the smallest of freezers.

8. burp bibs: if you have a big spit up baby, these burb bibs are awesome, they go all down your shoulder and chest, to catch the biggest of spitups.

9. gripe water: for fussiness, especially the hiccups – it works wonders for us.

10. gel soothie pads: for the beginning, if you suffer from chapped nipples, these are incredibly soothing! they have a cooling effect and stick right on your nipples.

11. bamboo reusable nursing pads: so you don’t soak through your shirts, these reusable nursing pads are soft and come in a cute little pouch, so you can toss them in your diaper bag easily.

12. boob design tanks: more so that the traditional nursing tank (withe the clasp like a nursing bra), I LOVE these Boob Design tanks, I own them in almost every single color! it’s easy access for nursing and they fit snug so they can be layered under sweaters in the colder temps.

hope this post was helpful for many! let me know if you have any questions in the comments, and I’m happy to answer them as best that I can!

My Breastfeeding Journey with Roma

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18 comments

Anonymous says:
Thank you for sharing yoir story, im going thrOugh the eXact same thing regarDing the fOrceful let dowN abd my Son choking wHich leads to Him being gassy but im trying to Push thrOugh aNd not beat MyseLf up over it. Thank You!!
KimbErly says:
Thank you for openlY Discussing this very common nursIng issue. I was not informed when my 9 month old was born with a lip and tongue tie. We waited until she was 6 weeks to finally have it corrected. It is our biggest regret not doing it sooner. It does take a few weekS for babe to learn how to nUrse with her new tongue, but its 100% worth it. IVe been breastfeeding 9 months and only because this issue was solved. Xoxo
Nicole says:
Hang in there mama! I am a FTM OF A 6 week old and we struggled With these Same things. I am a pediatric speech therapist and we had my sons lip and tongue tie released at 3 days old which helped signIficAntly but he has still had some reflux Issues. We Are seeing a pt for craniosacral to release some tension in his neck. A pediatric speech therapist who specializes in infant feedinG might help too. You got this!!
Anonymous says:
I took my baby to the chirOpractor (STARTING AT 3 WEEKS AND SPORADICALLY TILL HE WAS 18 MONTHS) and it worked wonders for his stiffness! And i truly believe it allowed his motor development to stay on track.
Sandra says:
Thank You so much for sharing Your story. I went thRu the same thiNg twice with my two babies. With my first i had no idea what tongue ties where and SUFFERED with a painful latch and engorgement for 8 weeks. When i went to a pediatric dentist that specialized in tongue ties we got it revised via laser i stead of cutting. Per my dentist, he said it was leSs trauma to the tissue and the healing was faster so we wEnt with that. After the procedure She never spit up again and we nursed for 1 year before i weaned and got prEgnant again. Now with my second daughter i knew that she would likely have a tongue/ lip tie and made sure to get her booked ASap. She had her ties revised again via laser at 2 weeks old and healed but she had so much STIFFNESS in her neck that she COULDN'T keep A good latch. We tried pt and that didnt really help much. So at 8 weeks we Looked into pediatric chiropracTors and found one close to us that had EXPERIENCE with ties. We still did the Pt exercises at home and took her to the chiro a fEw times a weEk and it slowly corrected itself. ( we took her for a whole year) We made it to 1 year as well. I say all this to say every baby is different and You are doing amazing by being Your and Your babies advocate. With ties in my experience with trying to breastfeed. Dont wait to long, TRy different approacheS. I Strongly recommend to all my friends to look into a pediatric chiropractor. It may sound scary but its such a gentle procedure. Good luck and remember take a deep breath and dont “quit” on your worst day. You got this!
Alison Cowles says:
Hey Ali! Roma is amazing and i am So thRilled you guys are doing well! I went through something similar with my now 1 year old and I hope sharing will maybe help! I joined a group on FB called the cleavage club - its a non profit that helps mamas alL over the worLd and the ibclc that runs it is specializes in Oral ties - in my Experience my daughter had lip tongue and buccal ties and needed to be laser revised. It also let me in on the gene mutation that can cause these midline defects, MTHFR so detoxification is something i focus on with her as well. Cass the ibclc from the cleavage club has a full file of preferred providers and recoMMendations with reviews from moms who have used them. Its a great resource!! Also it can take 12 weeks for thw symptoms of ties to work themselves out because the little string under the tongue indicates tIghtness throughout the body all the way to the toes! Our pediatric dentist who did the proceedure recommends both chiropractic and cranial sacral To help The body learn how to use the New Movement! Also! Search tonuge ties on instagram and many accounts come up. Finally you may find this Book intErestinG - tongue tied by richard baxter for more Info! You’ve got this mama!!
Anonymous says:
You're doing Amazingly! Your comment that we are so hard on ourselves brought tears to my eyes. Keep on Keepin' on, and remember that you - and all moms of newborns, infants, toddlers, and big kids - are a rock star!
Allison says:
You are doing so great! I had the same flow issue (but my daughter was our first baby, so I had EXACTLY as much nursing experience as my husband! I swear, just because we HAVE breasts doesn't make us any more qualified to breastfeed.) After 3 different LCs, the 3rd one was like a fairy godmother. She could tell my daughter was basically smashing my nipple against the roof of her mouth to "kink the hose" and make the flow more manageable. Fine for her, but absolute toe-curling-sobbing-in-pain agony for me every time we nursed. Around 5 weeks, I adjusted our position-- I would sit upright, and hold the baby facing me (also upright) with her feet criss-crossed against my torso. I'd just hold my boob straight out for her to nurse from (seriously, think of a hamster drinking from its water feeder) and she would nurse straight on while I held her upright by her shoulders/upper back. It was instant relief. We nursed like that every time until she was strong enough to handle my stronger flow in a more traditional position. Babies and mamas are amazing-- and so are the women who support us as we figure it all out together. Onward! You're crushing this!
AlIza says:
You are doing an amazing job! Nothing you did is causing Roma to be having some trouble nursing. Remember you have come a long way! One day at a time! ❤️🙏🏽🤱🏻
Andrea says:
You're not alone! (As I'm sure you've noticed with all the comments, although it feels very lonely when you're going through it day to day). We had the tongue and lip tie released for our baby at 3 weeks old. There was so much clicking, choking, air/burping, and getting frustrated at the boob. Don't the release and then several sessions of craniosacral were key to get our tense baby loOSENED up and transformed into a nursing champ over the next 6 weeks (just hit the 1 year mark!). Sending good vibes you get the help you need and Roma is so lucky to have such a dedicated mother. ❤️
Anonymous says:
I’M ALSO GOING THRough a fast letdown, and recently pediatrician recommended using a nIpple shield to help my baby not be milkboArded! It’s definetly helped!!
Ryann says:
I swear i could have written this exact post. My son is 10 weeks and we have had the exact nursing issues. Oversupply, overactive letdown, spitting up, tongue and liptie. Im very interested to hear how your Pt goes. We see a CHIROPRACTOR for him to help loosen him, pt was never recommenDed. I hope you and roma find your groove soon. Ps, i love her name!!
Crystal T. says:
Had all the same issues with my first. At 3 weeks I had his tounge and lip ties released (we opted to do co2 laser instead of snipping) and immediately was better. I watched some of the luna lactation for the exercise videos to help avoid REATTACHMENT. Also, we saw someone to do bodywork on him for 6 months to help with tightness and head turning preference and it made a world of difference. Early on we went every week then every few weeks. I'm due with baby 2 in September. This post reminds Me of the struggle but it's all worth it and I went on to nurse until 17 months. Good luck!
Patty d says:
Wow your struggles with roma sound the ExaCtly the same as with my daughter. She did the exact same thing, pulling off gasping (and crying), tongue tie, and it did get better... took us 6 months but i got her tongue tie Corrected at 3 mOnths. She would still pop off the breast for a while after the correction, eventually she got better and we got into our groove. It just takes time and pAtience. Hang in tHere!
Anonymous says:
Hello Can you please post the nursing tanK link? When u click, its a bra not a tank??? Thanks!
Emily says:
hey can you please post the correct link to the nursing tank when you click on it it goes to a bra ?? Thanks!
Cynthia says:
Simply nice post and great blog.
Red says:
I went to your site at work like I normally do to pick out the evening's recipe, and I got in trouble because of the breastfeeding image. Major props to you for sharing that, but I think it should be kept off the homepage of a recipe website.

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