It’s been a while since I posted – I won’t lie to you; it’s because I’ve been very busy… breastfeeding. I’m happy to say that Reid has been on 100% boobage for 58 days now, with the occasional bottle of pumped and stored breastmilk (more on my fabulous Medela Freestyle breast pump later).
Still, I want to tell my story, and so I’ll pick up where I left off…
… There was a knock on the door and Denise, a beautiful woman with a kind face, walked in.
Denise would be the third lactation consultant that I met with in three days. After not recalling my time with the first, and not sure I even understood the advice of the second, I decided to lay everything out on the line and verbally ambushed Denise the moment she sat down.
Denise perched on the edge of my bed and listened intently, barely interrupting me as I let everything out. Finally, she said “Well, why don’t we just go ahead and get started.” I have to admit that after 2 days of pain and frustration, I had little hope this session would be different from the rest.
Now here is the one piece of advice I have for everyone trying their hand (boob?) at breastfeeding: It’s not about getting help, it’s about getting the right help. If things aren’t going well for you even after seeking assistance, keep persisting until you find someone who will break it down in a way that you can relate to. Don’t give up. Just 2 minutes into my consultation with Denise I could see that she not only knew her stuff (phew!) but she also recognized that breastfeeding requires cooperation from both mom and baby. She therefore took the time to explain to me the mechanics behind what Reid was after, and what I would have to do to satisfy his needs.
1. Most babies are born knowing how to lap up milk – like a tiny kitten, if you will. However, they do not necessarily know how position, latch and direct the flow of milk into their mouths – that’s up to mom. Recognizing that breastfeeding is work and isn’t always instinctive is critical to shaping your expectations.
2. Who says you can’t help baby along? I complained that Reid could not successfully latch on to my left breast, because the nipple was slightly larger and had a tougher texture than the right. Instead of suggesting I throw in the towel and simply pump the breast as other nurses had, she literally gave me a look as if to say, “So? That’s the best you’ve got for me? Smarten up sister.”
Denise then showed me how to slightly press down on Reid’s chin to elongate the position of his mouth on my nipple. VOILA! Instant, perfect latch. It was such a simple manoeuvre, I couldn’t believe that no one had thought to demonstrate it before. Position. Latch. Help Baby Along. WOWZERS.
Instantly I felt somewhat more confident – if I could actually re-position Reid’s latch on my breast, I could avoid the painful tugging I normally felt. I definitely felt a glimmer of hope, and gleefully pulled Reid off to position him again. Latch. Help Baby Along. It worked! I actually sat back to admire my handiwork, and took in the very precious sight of baby lapping away.
I’m not going to lie; it wasn’t exactly pain-free. BUT, it was indescribably better – so much better that for the first time in 72 hours, I actually felt that I may stick with breastfeeding and see it through. I immediately made a follow-up appointment with Denise, hoping to see her again in 3 days. I wanted Reid weighed, I wanted to re-evaluate my technique, and most of all, I wanted reassurance. Denise gave me a thumbs up; confident I would be able to succeed. I know this sounds weird, but I left the hospital that day hoping that I wouldn’t let her down.
And here’s my second piece of advice: follow up. In most cities in North America, you can find wonderful lactation consultants who are only too happy to help you along. Don’t feel that your visit in the hospital has to be your last – breastfeeding support is available in person, over the phone, and even online. With Ryder, I made the mistake of trying to figure it out all on my own, and abandoned my attempts too soon when I felt it wasn’t working. This time, I truly credit my success to staying on top of it, finding the right help, and following up.
Well, it turns out that just three days later, Reid had re-gained his birth weight and was thriving. I was learning how to get comfortable with him, and even though I had to clench my teeth when he latched (I don’t feel the need to do this anymore, thank goodness!) his actual time at the breast was enjoyable for both.
And here’s an open THANK YOU to Denise – you are quite honestly one of my favourite people in this whole world. I cannot begin to describe how meeting you has changed my life – and Reid’s, for that matter. You are very much appreciated.
Today, I’m happily breastfeeding and pumping like a champ! In the next chapter, I’d love to share my experience with the PTPA Award Winning Medela Freestyle – the breast pump which has allowed me to find balance in my life while continuing to provide breastmilk for Reid. Stay tuned for my review… and you just know that there may be a HOT giveaway involved (hint, hint!)