I understand that lactation consults can be unaffordable for some mamas, so I’m hoping my experience with my consultation can help shed some guidance and assist those mamas who are struggling with their breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding — it’s HARD WORK, and I wished I’d known then what I know now.
I never went to a breastfeeding class, I just thought it happened naturally. Nursing became a 24-hour job for me. After countless days of crying, a hungry baby, sore and bleeding nipples and engorged breasts, I finally picked up the phone to make an appointment to see a lactation consultant. I had no idea what to expect, instead, I just thought it would be a normal 30 minutes consultation with a professional. What I instead received, was worth its weight in gold. She sat down with me and went through everything I should know about breastfeeding. She was never judging or all-knowing, just a helping hand with a wealth of knowledge. Here’s what went down at my lactation consultation.
It’s okay to ask for help, don’t be embarrassed.
The Lactation Consultation
They Will Go Through Your Background Information So They Know Exactly What Is Going On To Make A Proper Diagnosis
My consultant was a lovely consultant who I immediately felt safe with. Her energy was endearing and motherly, so I instantly felt safe with her. She greeted me with open arms and a warm smile, she sat me down, made sure I was very comfortable, got out her pen and paper and proceeded to ask me questions about my history, my birth, the current medications I was currently on, my diet, what my concern was and how I was genuinely feeling. Through my sobbing and tears, I talked her through my birth (the guilt of a failed induction with 2 labors, Oliver stuck in my pelvis which led to a C section), how Oliver kept crying all the time, how he hadn’t gained weight since his birth and how he always fell asleep at my breast after a few minutes.
They Will Ask You To Nurse/Breastfeed Your Baby In Front Of Them
After we finished our mini counseling session and half a box of tissues, she then asked me to nurse Oliver in front of her so she could see what I was doing wrong. I had no idea she was going to ask me to do this, so was highly unprepared and very embarrassed about getting my breasts out to feed him. I’m a very modest person, so baring all made me feel a little uneasy. Displaying yourself as a first-time mother in front of an expert is a daunting task. But as the feeding session did continue, I remembered she was there to help me and not judge. After all, she was a mum too and we were both women. She then proceeded to help correct everything that I was doing, in the sweetest way.
We went through all the breastfeeding positions and found the one that felt the best for me which is the cradle hold where his head is nestled in the bend of my elbow.
She corrected my sitting position and said that both feet should be on the ground or on a stool supported when feeding and my back supported with either a pillow or the back of a chair etc.
She showed me how to nurse with a breastfeeding pillow to make Oliver and me more relaxed. I ended up not needing to use this in the end.
She found that his latch was not that great and he was just sucking from my nipple and not putting the whole areola in his mouth. Then she showed me a little trick on how to tell, if there are little dimples at the sides of the crevices of his mouth when feeding, it means that he needs a bigger latch.
Afterward, I was shown how to get my whole areola in his mouth by placing my nipple on his nose, which baby responds with a wide-open mouth, of which then I am to guide my nipple and areola into.
After breastfeeding, she told me to spend extra time with my breast pump cause it will provide that extra “demand” to increase “supply”
They Will Teach You How To Compress/Massage Your Breasts While Feeding
I was shown how to massage my breasts to get every last drop out into Oliver’s mouth.
Massage the breast in downward motions towards the nipple area
She noticed I had lumps in my breast and explained that the lumps in my breasts are clogged milk ducts that block the flow of milk to the nipple. By massaging them out and down, this releases the milk to the nipple
To know when my breasts were as empty as possible they will feel and look deflated and soft
They Will Ask You To Express/Pump In Front Of Them
I was then asked to express/ pump my breasts, of which I then embarrassingly stuck my breasts into my portable Nuk Pump Flange that I hesitantly pulled from my bag. As I held the pump in place on my breast, she looked at me, puzzled, then asked if I had a pumping bra. I was like, what is that?
A pumping bra is a specialty bra that holds the pumping bottles in place so you don’t have to hold them there. They look like a little weird but are a godsend.
She told me that there are different flange sizes for different areola and nipple sizes. Again something I didn’t know.
Also, when I pump, it should be enough suction and tempo that it doesn’t hurt
She said expressing should not be painful. Milk will come out at all levels no matter what
The lactation consultant went through the best bottles (Phillips) and pumps for me to use with Oliver and explained to me that if I had insurance (which I do), I get a complimentary pump as part of the new maternity leave care act. Of course, If I didn’t have insurance, then there are plenty of options to rent or buy.
They Will Weigh The Baby Before And After The Feed To Measure How Much Your Little One Is Actually Eating
Before our feeding session, she weighed him, then after she weighed him again to check how many MLS he had eaten in that feed, and it worked out that it was almost 60 mls with both breasts (my right producing more than my left)! I was amazed at how much milk my breasts produced in one feeding session. Previously, I was only getting 15mls out.
They Will Go Through The Best Supplements To Enhance Your Milk Supply
My lactation consultant ran through everything that helped increase breast milk supply, including lactation teas, postpartum foods, supplements, and herbs. I ended up buying Liquid Gold with her and then followed up the next day buying some lactation teas at my local grocery store.
They Will Ask To Follow Up With You To See How You Are Going
I didn’t need to even follow up. Straight away I started to expel double the amount of milk that I was previously nursing with Oliver from seeing her.
What I Learned
Breastfeeding is a supply-and-demand system. The more demand on the system through breastfeeding Oliver, the more milk my body makes. A mother’s body is very efficient since there is no point in producing more breastmilk than the baby actually wants to consume!
That drinking lots of water and consuming oats and fenugreek teas will also help to produce the milk Oliver needs
Sometimes my body took a day or two to catch up to Oliver’s increased breastfeeding demand. This happens during a growth spurt.
Oliver’s inefficient breastfeeding “latch” was not adequately feeding him. A wide proper latch with the whole areola in his mouth will adequately feed Oliver.
Babies tend not to empty the breast, however, compression massages will help expel as much milk as the breast can.
Spending extra time with my breast pump in between feeds will also provide that extra “demand” to increase “supply”
If my breasts felt engorged, hot showers and hot cloths placed on my breasts to stop the engorging will help. Hot water in the shower is also a great soother.
Buy and use good bottles, the best ones as recommended by the lactation consultant were Phillips
Use a good pump. She mentioned that SpeCtra and Medela are best, I also like NUK for portable use
Use the baby tracker app — it’s free and a great tool to keep a record of his last feeds
Lactation consultants can be pricey, but they are worth their weight in gold. My insurance company even reimbursed me. But I know for some mamas out there, they don’t have this service, so I’m hoping with the experience, learnings, and advice I’ve been given from my lactation consultant, that I can at least help share the breastfeeding advice I’ve been given to help mamas out there in need. I know the difficulty of breastfeeding is something we can all speak to. If I can help any struggling mother out there, I will. Just remember, every baby and every mama is different. I hope, that with the strategies from my lactation consultant, that breastfeeding or formula feeding continues to be the life-changing experience that mothers everywhere should experience. While you’re here, check out Bianca Cheah’s beautiful and life-changing birth story.
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