During my pregnancy with my first I did quite a bit to prepare for breastfeeding. I had always known that it was something I wanted to do for my babies. I had done reading on it prior to becoming pregnant and then during pregnancy I took a basic breastfeeding class. I felt pretty confident in my knowledge and was aware of issues that could arise... or so I thought.
Once my son was born things started off smooth while in the hospital. He was latching and feeding every 2 hours and had good diaper output so I felt confident as we left the hospital at 2 days old. As soon as we got home though it felt like everything changed. We started having latch issues, pain, constant feedings, and soon enough low diaper output all within 24hrs. Boy how things change fast in the first week! I knew that we were struggling, I was exhausted (as all new mamas are!) and my mind just kept running in circles constantly feeling like I was doing something wrong.
After 2 nights of this we went in for Adlers well baby check to see how things were going. This visit quickly confirmed my inklings on our struggles and we were met with an instant comment of "he's lost too much weight. It's time to start formula". I had always preached that "breast is best!" and here I was 4 days in and already "failing". I tried to keep it together but I won't lie, I left that appointment sobbing. It was then that my fiancé reminded me "hey babe, what about the lactation consultants at the hospital? you should call them before we do anything. See what they say." I am so appreciative of his support during that time.
In my new mom mindset (which lets face it... is pretty mindless when you are running on very little sleep) I completely forgot about the professionals that were just a phone call away. I called them as we drove home from the appointment. It was already 3pm on a Friday so getting an appointment seemed impossible. I talked with the LC on the phone and after listening and hearing me break down she squeezed us in within the hour. During that appointment she taught me so much about the nursing dynamic and we pinpointed our latching issues and she helped me feel confident again.
Over the weekend things were better but didn't seem 100%. He wasn't having any poopy diapers and we were still constantly feeding. By Monday when we returned to the LC we confirmed that my supply was taking a nose dive. She set me up with an SNS (supplemental nursing system) a device that holds formula/breast milk and clips to your shoulder strap with a small tube tapped to the nipple. It allows supplementation while providing stimulation to increase supply. This device and our LC is ultimately what saved us. After a week of use my supply came back! It took another week for Adler to reach and pass birth weight.
We didn't get out unscathed though.. While my supply was ok it was never restored completely and we were left supplementing 1 bottle a night for 6 months until the introduction of solids. We went on to nurse for 18 months.
Jump to baby number two
At this point I was starting my doula training and in that was Birth Boot Camps "Breastfeeding: The ultimate MRE" (offered in-person in the "homecoming life with a new recruit" and "10 week comprehensive course" or online) along with professional training in breastfeeding. I found it very eye opening into what really went wrong in the first 2 weeks with my son. This time around with more knowledge and knowing who to go to has helped us start off on the right foot. Right off the bat Mia was a little shark as we liked to say but that didn't mean it was all sunshine and rainbows. We had latch issues while in the hospital (I was there for 4 days this time) and I quickly developed blisters and scabbing. I knew it wasn't right and so the LC (who was the one that had helped with my son) stopped in and gave me a fresh set of eyes to determine the issues.
After addressing a shallow latch I healed up pretty quick and we have been doing great. Occasionally she tries to revert to poor latching so she is still learning but I now understand the early symptoms of issues and feel totally equipped to address it before my supply is effected.
The first weeks are crucial to your breastfeeding journey, I'm not saying that if you don't catch issues right away you are doomed or anything like that! there is always hope! But I will say that taking an in depth breastfeeding class in pregnancy and having in person professional support (a doula or IBCLC are great options) will prepare you for ultimate success.
As a doula I have training to help my clients establish breastfeeding in those first hours of life and I check in periodically during the crucial first weeks to make sure everything is going smoothly. I am always happy to visit in person to help pinpoint possible breastfeeding issues, having a second set of eyes is sometimes all you need. Every breastfeeding pairing is unique with its own challenges.
I will note that a doula is not a replacement for a certified lactation consultant but a doula can help you sort through what is normal but may need tweaking vs when there may be a bigger issue at hand and advice you to seek an LC before your supply is effected long term.
I am currently accepting clients for spring and summer 2019 so if you want to learn more about all the awesome benefits you get when you hire me as your doula I would love to discuss them with you!
Call or email me today!
This blog is written by Mallory and Donna - at Black Hills Birth Boot Camp. Expect birthy topics, parenting triumphs and trials, and community resources and interviews. Have a topic idea you’d like us to address? Drop us a note!