Breastfeeding SOS: A Glimpse into a Monday Morning

Breastfeeding SOS

Breastfeeding SOS

I used to facilitate a breastfeeding drop in group.  I never knew what to expect or who would show up. Sometimes clients pop in for a quick follow up, but often I’ve never met the moms before. They are referred to the group by their Drs, their doulas, the acupuncturist or their friends. This is a glimpse into a recent drop in.

After moms straggle in with their babies somewhere between 10:20 and 10:45. They get settled in the comfy chairs and I ask them to introduce themselves and their babies.  They admire each other’s babies. A mother with a 3- month- old marvels at the smallness of another mom’s 8-day-old baby. She congratulates her for making it out of the house to get support with such a tiny baby.. I ask the mothers to talk about why they are here. Here is what I heard last week.

“I just want to make sure I’m doing it right.”

“I want to make sure my baby is gaining weight.”

“My nipples are really sore.”

“My baby has a hard time latching and he’s really fussy at the breast.”

“I’m using nipples shields and I want to breastfeed without them.”

Babies begin to get restless and fussy.  I assure them it’s totally fine to breastfeed in this setting!  A question is asked about latching. All eyes are on me as I  bring out my knitted breast and demonstrate for all to see. I can see mothers trying to replicate the technique I demonstrated.

There is concern expressed about using some formula. Everyone is quick to assure the mom that any amount of breast milk is great and the important thing is to feed the baby.

There is a discussion about milk supply and how to know baby is getting enough.

More questions.. I give general answers. If a mother is having a complex breastfeeding problem, I recommend a consultation with an IBCLC. She can make an appointment with me if desired.

A mom shares that she isn’t getting enough sleep and she doesn’t know what to do. Three other moms nod their heads with empathy and give her suggestions. I merely listen, because it seems the mom is getting exactly what she needs.

A conversation about pumping ensues. One mom says.. “I have a love/hate relationship with my pump!”  There is laughter and more pumping discussion.

A baby poops loudly which results in more laughter.

A mother asks me to help with latching her baby so that it’s not painful. I help her make a few adjustments and she looks up at me and says, “That feels better! Thank you!”

A mother confesses she doesn’t know how to determine if her baby is swallowing. So I sit with her and interpret what’s happening as her baby nurses. Another mom listens in, then asks me to watch her with her baby as well.

Every few minutes a baby is weighed. When it’s good news all of the mothers rejoice.One mom cries after learning her baby didn’t gain enough weight—other moms cry with her or grow silent.  One reaches out and gently pats her back. They always seem to know the right thing to do.

A mom asks me to check if her baby has thrush. I don’t do oral exams in drop in groups, but this baby took one look at me and stuck out her tongue and showed me the thick white patch!

When one baby cries loudly, the other babies look worried and begin to whimper. I hear things like, “Yes, that baby is sad, but his mother is helping him.” and “That is a loud sound and it’s scaring you.” and “I’m right here, you are ok.” I marvel at the intuition and skill of these first-time moms.

Babies fuss and cry with diaper changes. A mom goes to use the restroom and hands me her baby to tend. He smiles and coos at me.

It’s 11:30… time to end the meeting. But the moms linger… asking one more question, enjoying the company of other moms and babies. There are hugs and word of encouragement.

When they leave they look a little happier, a little lighter and more confident. They have a plan. They know who to call if they need more help. They entered the space as strangers and as they leave, I hear 2 of the moms exchange phone numbers.

I hope they are all doing well. I hope I see them next week.

IGT: Four Stories from Moms Who Have Been There

Nursing with homemade SNS

Nursing with homemade SNS

This post is dedicated to the incredible moms I have met over the years who have IGT.

The stories below are as uniquely individual as the mothers who wrote them. Even so, they do have many elements in common. All of these moms were very committed to breastfeeding. None of these moms were screened for possible IGT prenatally or early enough postpartum to avoid severe infant weight loss. All of these babies lost a significant amount of weight—a weight loss that was completely avoidable. All of the mothers put an extreme amount of effort into producing enough milk for their babies. All of these mothers have felt guilt and remorse—even though none of this was their fault. All of the mothers received inappropriate advice from the professionals they trusted to help them with a very basic function—feeding their babies. These mothers have no reason to feel shame. It is our system that has let them down. Continue reading

Thankful for Breastfeeding

Thankful for baby bliss.

Thankful for baby bliss.

Recently a client sent me a nice note with a generous check. She had been feeling gratitude for the help she received to breastfeed her son. There were multiple lactation consultations in her home, a frenotomy (the procedure to release a tongue tie) and body work for baby. There were many up-front costs–some of which were not covered by insurance. Here’s what she wrote: Continue reading

Baby Poop: A Story of Getting To Normal

Happy little guy!

Happy little guy!

Lactation consultants are not only interested in what goes into your baby; we’re also interested in what comes out! We like to see very frequent stooling that is yellowish in color with lots of chunky white curds. That is normal breastfed baby poop. If baby is not pooping frequently, or poop is a different color, that is not normal and we want to know why. Continue reading

Erin’s Story: A Tongue Tie with a Happy Ending

IMG_1691This story was sent to me by an incredibly determined mom. Thank you, Erin B. for sharing with the world!

My daughter had been nursing exclusively until she was 4 months old. She was always colicky, hard to nurse, and would arch her back and scream during feedings. My nipples were constantly sore. She was diagnosed with acid reflux and put on medication, but it never really helped. We had to start her on solids early at 4 months because she always seemed hungry. Then, at 5 months, she flat out refused to nurse. This time, I knew it was more than just “reflux,” and decided to go digging.

I searched high and low and came across some information regarding tongue ties and lip ties.  I immediately made an appointment with our pediatrician to have our daughter checked. He told us that she did not have a tongue tie, and that her lip tie shouldn’t affect feeding, but I had a gut feeling about it and talked to other moms and eventually found Renee–an experienced lactation consultant. (IBCLC)  

Even though Renee practiced in another city, an hour away, I made an appointment and went to see her as she has experience in identifying ankyloglossia (tongue tie). It was a wonderful experience.  Finally someone listened to me!  She was able to identify my daughter’s lip and tongue ties, and help me figure out how to nurse her comfortably, without pain, while waiting to have her ties revised. Renee also contacted my OB and our daughter’s pediatrician to fill them in, and helped us find a wonderful body worker (Michael Hahn) to take our daughter to after her revisions.  (Note: Body work is often needed after the ties are revised to resolve any residual tightness in the jaw and other areas.)

We had both the tongue and lip ties clipped. We saw an immediate difference. A few days after the procedure we took our baby for a session of body work with Michael which helped our baby even more.  I can’t even begin to describe the difference in my baby since her ties were released, but the short of it is that she is a much more settled, content, happy baby who is gaining weight and growing much more efficiently. For the first time, I have seen her content to nurse and know what “milk drunk” looks like. Her reflux and spitting up have also vanished.

I am forever grateful to have found someone to listen to me and help me figure out how to continue to breastfeed my sweet girl. I will not hesitate to seek help again with any breastfeeding issues, and when we have our next baby, I am absolutely hiring Renee to come to the hospital!

Note from Renee: I refer most of my local clients to Dr. Chenelle Roberts for tongue and/or lip tie releases. If you’re not local to Seattle, that’s ok!  I can help you identify tongue tie with a virtual consultation and can locate a provider local to you for the release.