Lactation Consultants- My Experience

Best For Babes, a non profit focused on giving breastfeeding a makeover, recently posted on their blog about Lactation Consultants.  Not all Lactation Consultants are created equal.  For as many good experiences out there (mine) there are bad ones.  I stand behind my claim that without my LC, I wouldn’t have made it to 2 weeks, let alone 13.5 months and counting!  I want to share how my experience went.  If you want to help Best For Babes, I encourage you to visit this post and tell them your experience, good or bad.  We need more LC’s like mine!

My delivery was at a very Breastfeeding friendly hospital.  The halls were decorated with maternal photos of mothers nursing, and credos affirming that Mother’s Milk is best, in various prose.  My son was delivered at 3:00 am, and wasn’t allowed to nurse right away.  He had to be examined due to some grunting.  I was worried for him, but upset that I missed my 15 minute window.  When I was finally allowed to nurse him, I had some trouble with his latch right away.  The nurses tried helping me, and he did eat, but it was painful.  Once I told them this, they insisted on un latching him and re latching him, over and over.  We worked with this all night long.  First thing in the morning the Lactation Consultant came to see me.  She was worried about my son’s blood sugars, since I had had Gestational Diabetes.  He needed my colostrum to regulate himself.  They didn’t even consider supplementing him, and never offered.

The Lactation Consultant manually expressed my colostrum.  If Breast milk is considered liquid gold, colostrum is liquid diamonds!  She was able to hand express 2 ounces!  I remember to this day how excited and amazed she was at my supply.  Considering it was only a few hours after birth, I had plenty of the colostrum to go around.  She finger fed my son the hard won liquid diamonds.  It did help his blood sugar levels.

What I remember most about my hospital stay was that is was a blur of hands on boobs.  I didn’t sleep.  Because it took so many tries to latch my son, and he would eat for an hour or two, by the time we finished it was almost time to start the next session.  Since I knew it took an hour or more to get him actively sucking and swallowing, I called a nurse in to help each time.  The nurses were so helpful, and would put my nipple in my son’s mouth to help.  One nurse was a little rough, and would shove it.  She was the overnight nurse, and I didn’t care for her much.

The second night I used a pump.  The next morning the LC came and helped me finger feed my son.  She was very adament not using a bottle.  If I couldn’t nurse him from the breast, she wanted me to pump and finger feed him until he would latch.  Frankly, at this point, I was so sore that I wanted a way out.  I wanted him to get breastmilk, but I wasn’t sure I could handle the pain I was in for a yet to be determined amount of time.  A pediatrician came in to check on my son, and told me the story of how his wife wasn’t able to latch their son.  She tried for a long time, then pumped.  He assured me there was nothing wrong with pumping and bottle feeding.  I didn’t own a pump, and told my husband I wanted to buy one, just in case.

I saw the LC again, on my last day.  Because my nipples were so sore that even the lightest touch would make me silently scream and shed a tear, she suggested I use a nipple shield.  It would help me teach him to latch, and would let my nipples heal.  She warned me it could decrease my supply, but I was willing to try.  We fed him twice at the hospital using the shield.  He took to it after some convincing.  The shield was much larger than a nipple.  He spit it out at first.  After our very successful last feeding, I was confident we could breast feed at home.  I did buy a pump from the hospital, just in case.  There would be no formula in our home.

The Lactation Consultant called every three days!  “How is it going?  How much is he eating?  How many sucks to swallows?  How many wet diapers?  etc…”  She encouraged me to attempt not using the shield as soon as possible.  I would try here and there, but my son would spit it out unless there was a shield.  I made an appointment to see the LC to help us wean him.  I despised the shield, it was cumbersome, and messy.  Milk would spill out from it.  There was no supply problem for me!

Our first visit back was when my son was 3 weeks.  The LC was extremely helpful with positioning him to latch.  She showed me how to squeeze my nipple in order to have it fit inside the tiny newborn mouth.  My son had a recessed chin, and the bottom would rub me raw.  We would drag his chin down in order to get more areola in his mouth, and prevent a bad latch.  He ate from both sides successfully.  I was really feeling good about our latching without the shied.  I stayed there for hours, and did another feeding.  I even took a nap in the chair while my son slept in his car seat.  It was wonderful.

Things at home didn’t go as well.  I couldn’t get him on alone.  My husband tried helping me.  The LC warned me, the baby would eat when hungry.  If he wouldn’t take my breast without the shield, refuse it.  He would eat, eventually.  I caved…

She continued to call every 3 days.  She told me that he would get it, but I had to be strong.  I continued to offer the breast every feeding, and he refused.  I would latch him with the shield then remove it, and offer.  He still refused.

At 5 weeks I made another appointment.  We had a better time of it getting him latched.  The way she explained how to latch him made perfect sense to me.  We practiced, and she watched me latch him without her help.  On the way home from this appointment I stopped to shop at Babies ‘r Us.  He needed to eat, so I went to the Mother’s Room.  I got him latched on my own, no shield.  I had the shield wrapped in a paper towel in my diaper bag.  It remained there for a long time.  My nipples got sore again, because not every latch was perfect.  But he learned, and got better.  I continued to get calls from the LC, until I told them I was positive things were 100%.  I was sad to tell them that in a way, because I had someone to talk to and now I wouldn’t have them there.  Shortly after that I got mastitis, and did call for advice.  On that call my LC let me know when my son got teeth, I could call back for help if I needed it.

I can’t believe how helpful the LC’s were.  All of them, especially mine, were genuinely concerned about our nursing relationship.  They cared that I succeeded, and truly believed that breast was best.  They were walking the walk and talking the talk!

At my final appointment, the LC asked me how long I planned to nurse.  I joked that I would go until the first tooth popped, then I was DONE.  No teeth on my nipple please, thanks.  She encouraged me to give it a try.  Not all babies bite, she said.  Yeah… right.  But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to beat the teeth.  I worked too hard to give it up.  That tooth came around 7 months.  We powered through, a few nibbles here and there.  8 teeth later, and he is still nursing like a champ!

What was your LC experience, if you had one?  Good, bad?  Let Best for Babes know!  And tell me too!  I’d love to hear!

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