Mothers’ Stories

I struggled to breastfeed my child, and that was the reason!

August 01 , 2019
Rasha Salib
Educational background:  Rasha received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she specialized in Psycho...More

Breastfeeding. It shouldn’t be painful, your nipples shouldn’t become sore, cracked, or painful, and if any of these are occurring, your baby probably just has a bad latch - try again mama. Practice makes perfect, right? Maybe not.

To all the mothers out there, 

My name is Rasha Salib. I am a mother of a five-month-old baby girl. I am very passionate about sharing my story with my daughter hoping that it can help other families and struggling mothers. 

I have always been a very strong advocate of breastfeeding. I knew a lot about the nutritional and physical health benefits of breastfeeding, and as a clinical psychologist, I was well aware of the psychological effects of breastfeeding on children and mothers, including cognitive and socio-emotional development for the child and the positive impact on mood, affect, stress, and maternal care for mothers.

Therefore, when I got pregnant, that was my mission.

For me, just as important as it was to educate myself about pregnancy and delivery, I found it equally important to read and learn more about breastfeeding.

While I was pregnant, I contacted a lactation consultant and took a few sessions with her to learn more about how I can succeed in giving my child the best gift I can give her. This became even more important to me when my gynecologist told me I would most probably deliver by c-section given that my baby was in frank breech position.

I knew it would be harder for me to establish breastfeeding after a c-section, given the pain, the medications needed to manage it, and the fact that the milk may take longer to come in. However, that made me more determined to make it work.

I educated myself and read many articles online about having a natural/gentle c-section, which is becoming more popular in the U.S. Thankfully, both my Gynecologist and my daughter’s pediatrician supported my goals.

On the day of her delivery,

the pediatrician assessed my daughter, wrapped her in warm blankets and placed her in my arms. I kissed her forehead, and then, like my birth plan dictated, my baby was placed on my breast for her first nursing session and immediate skin-to-skin contact, in the hope that this golden hour would help in initiating breastfeeding.

Just after my natural C-section, my little miracle placed between my arms 

However, from the very beginning, my daughter’s latch wasn’t deep, and she wouldn’t empty the breast. She was constantly hungry, had trouble latching, fell asleep while breastfeeding, had poor suction, was fussy, gassy and colicky, and produced a clicking sound while breastfeeding.

I, on the other hand, had sore/cracked nipples and nipple pain, was discouraged and disappointed in breastfeeding and was worried about my milk supply decreasing. Given her low birth weight, I did whatever I could to feed her, including not sleeping and feeding her around the clock. However, lack of sleep and exhaustion negatively affected my milk supply.

It was a vicious cycle, but I thought this was normal because many mothers informed me, “Rasha, you won’t sleep. The first few months of a baby’s life are tough and full of sleepless nights.” So,

I pushed myself to keep going because my goal was to succeed in breastfeeding.I worked on positioning, latching techniques by opening my daughter’s jaw, hand compressions, nipple shields, flange size adjusting, pumping, supplements, teas, suckling exercises, and much more.

How I knew there was something wrong!

On Mother’s Day, my dear friend came to visit me and witnessed an abnormally long nursing session followed by a fussy, crying, hungry baby. She, herself had a son with a tongue tie that was surgically released a few months ago. She offered to examine my daughter and recommended that I visit the lactation consultant because from her experience as a mother who went through that, she noticed that my daughter also had a tongue tie.

At that point, I immediately scheduled a session with a highly qualified and empowering lactation consultant. She confirmed the diagnosis of a posterior tongue tie and a lip tie, gave us a written report and recommended that we see a surgeon. I started educating myself about tongue ties (aka amkyloglossia) and visited different pediatricians and pediatric surgeons in search for answers as to what to do next.

my little girl's tongue tie before the surgery

With the exception of our knowledgeable pediatrician, we got inaccurate and misleading medical advice/responses from some of the pediatricians and pediatric surgeons we visited, who mostly used improper techniques to examine my daughter. Here is a list of the conflicting and confusing information we got as we were searching for answers:

  • There is no such thing as a tongue tie (“posterior tongue tie isn’t real”) and you would be a horrible mother for messing with her mouth/tongue and ruining it.
  • Your daughter’s tongue is not tied because she could extend her tongue out of her mouth (despite the fact that she wasn’t crying much and couldn’t really move her tongue.) 
  • You can’t tell if she has a tongue tie until the age of two or when she develops feeding and speech problems. When that happens, just take her to a speech therapist.
  • Your daughter will outgrow this problem when her mouth gets bigger.
  • Your daughter doesn’t have a tongue tie because she is gaining weight.
  • Your daughter just has a small mouth and a short tongue.
  • Tongue ties don’t interfere with breastfeeding, you just need more time to toughen up your nipples.
  • This is the latest trend.
  • Just give her formula, forget about breastfeeding.

All of these responses affected me, and I spiraled into a dark place of exhaustion, confusion, uncertainty, superstition, sadness and complacency.

I spent every waking moment trying to feed her. The more confused I felt, the more I read and learned about the long-term consequences of not releasing tongue ties, including limited tongue mobility, difficulty swallowing and vocalizing, difficulty handling solid foods, poor speech development, dental problems (e.g., poor oral hygiene and having a gap between the two lower front teeth), poor posture, breathing and sleep issues, migraines and other problems into adulthood.

How did I/we deal with this situation?

It was at this point that I decided to trust my gut instinct and follow the recommendation of my dear friend who had her son’s tongue tie released by a qualified doctor in Dubai.

When we called him, he listened and validated all of our symptoms, empathized with my pain and informed us about his use of Radiofrequency in releasing tongue and lip ties, a technique that is unavailable in Jordan, and causes no bleeding or damage to adjacent tissues.  

my little girl's tongue after the surgery

We flew to Dubai where the doctor has performed our baby's posterior tongue tie and lip tie revision within a matter of minutes using Radiofrequency. He then walked us through the greatly important aftercare measures (i.e. stretches and massages) to prevent reattachment. The outcomes of the procedure were miraculously positive.

I was able to breastfeed again. No more gas or colic. My baby was happier and more relaxed. She slept better, and so did I. The nursing sessions were much shorter. No more clicking sound while nursing. Too good to be true

With my lovely little girl

So, my dear mothers, although pain is the number one reason mothers quit breastfeeding, it is one very good indicator a tongue and/or lip tie may exist. Left uncorrected, your child can face craniofacial abnormalities, speech, feeding and developmental delays, sleep apnea, tooth decay, and so much more

If you and your little one are struggling on this journey, I urge you to educate yourself on tongue and lip ties; it can make a world of difference.