Saturday, January 30, 2010

Two words

Lactation consultant.

She saved my life yesterday--and for only $35.

After several days of what I though was fairly successful nursing, Wednesday and Thursday brought some breastfeeding challenges. My not-even-week-old baby started fighting me at feeding time. We're talking blood-curdling (and heartbreaking) pterodactyl screams, bright red face, flying fists, side-to-side head swinging--the works. Feedings were taking hours and I was getting frustrated and discouraged. I can only imagine how my hungry child felt.

I never took a specific breastfeeding class, but read a lot about it, observed how others did it, learned about it in Bradley class, watched videos and worked with two lactation consultants/nurses at the hospital. But I think breastfeeding is not something you can learn ahead of time. I knew what I was supposed to do; doing it was a whole different matter.

After watching Olive and I suffer for a few days, my sweet husband called in a lactation consultant. MamaD had used one with her baby and found it extremely helpful, so we figured it was worth a try. From a google search, we stumbled upon a woman who runs one of two local birthing centers and set an appointment for her to drop by that afternoon.

Heather Shelley was a miracle. After observing me for a few minutes, she corrected some of my poor technique and got the baby to latch on immediately. I'd been mainly using the football hold but was holding baby too far in front of me rather than further back towards my armpit, my index finger supporting my breast was getting in the way of baby's sucking and I was shoving baby's face instead of her shoulders and neck into my breast to get her to latch on. Heather also showed me the proper way to do the cross-cradle hold.

Because Olive latched on and fed so quickly, Heather offered to come back later that afternoon to work with me again as part of her $35 one-hour fee (a real steal!). Since then, all of my feeding sessions have been successful and calm. Baby's happy, I'm happy and I feel comforted knowing that Olive is getting all the nutrients she needs.

When my husband mentioned to his boss that we had hired a lactation consultant, the 40-something guy half-jokingly said that young people these days are spoiled and that his generation had to just learn things on their own. This is the complete wrong approach! We need to take advantage of the wisdom of women all around us to help lift each other and learn. Like Heather told me, breastfeeding is not supposed to be hard--and it's not if you know how to do it properly. I'm so glad I didn't waste any more time fighting with my daughter and can get back to enjoying bonding during feeding time.


Tyson and Katie said...

I'm glad you got the help you needed. I am taking a breastfeeding class, but I fully intend to make use of a lactation consultant if I need one! No shame in asking for help. I hope nursing continues to be a good experience for you.

Puanani Tuiolosega Tagoa'i said...

This is great! I used a lactation consultant with Eden also and was referred to the La Leche League by Krista. While I didn't nurse Eden as long as I nursed Taimane, I learned a lot of things to do with my second baby. I'm so glad feeding time is going much calmer for you guys :)!