This post was written by a guest blogger, my mom! I’m honoured to have her attending the birth of my second child (any day now, I’m forty weeks this week!) as both my mother and my doula. Here she shares her experience as a grandmother, mother, doula and former breastfeeder.
The best gift for a new baby is not the absolutely adorable layette you just couldn’t stop yourself from buying, or the latest piece of baby equipment Mom said she just must have, or the personalized silver spoon or piggy bank. The best baby gift in my opinion is time with a Lactation Consultant. I hope by sharing our experiences I will be able to convince you that this is true.
When my oldest daughter was pregnant with her first child I thought I knew it all. I had worked as an RN on the postpartum floor in my first profession. I had breastfed for a total of 3 years of my life with great support from the leaders and moms at La Leche League. I had delivered my second child at home. I had trained as a doula (although my life had become too transient to support a career as such). My daughter and I had numerous conversations about nursing plus had done extensive reading on current thoughts. After an amazing drug free delivery which I was honoured to attend, nothing could prepare us for her first breastfeeding experience with the pain of cracked nipples, anxiety about supply then a blocked duct (the severity of which both her GP & I missed), leading to mastitis and an abscess requiring surgery. It was not surprising that my tearful daughter told me at six weeks or so that she was switching to formula. I think she felt like she was letting me down & I was so sorry to have added any pressure to her experience. I totally understood when she said that what she was going through was harming the bond with her beautiful baby.
With her second pregnancy we were fortunate enough to go to Dr. Jack Newman‘s wonderful clinic in Toronto before delivery and then have their support postpartum. The decision to have one of his trained lactation consultants make a home visit was what contributed most to a very different scenario than the first time. These are the experts. A lactation consultant can determine if there are any physical challenges, either with you or the babe. She will help with the all-important latch by offering innumerable tips on positioning for you & the baby. She will be a calm & confident presence amongst the hormone drenched & sleep deprived thoughts of your addled brain. My daughter went on to a very successful breastfeeding experience.
Next comes my youngest daughter. Again, I witnessed an amazing drug free delivery, this time at the only designated Baby Friendly hospital in Montreal. She had a short, very supportive stay where skin-to-skin was the norm for both Mom & Dad. Then came Day 3 when the tsunami of emotions, discomfort & milk coming in hit its peak. Time to call in the Lactation Consultant. We were able to contact one who came over within hours and again she set the stage for a very successful breastfeeding experience from then on. You can read my daughter’s perspective on the experience here. I still did not have the skill or techniques that would assist in this endeavour but I did have the time to research online for help and the energy to make the number of phone calls necessary to find someone available.
We are now waiting for our first grandson’s arrival. The lactation consultant is on speed dial although the hospital now has lactation trained nurses on hand as well. Yes, I have succumbed to purchasing the cutest baby boy attire but if the need arises or just to make my daughter feel better I will be using the phone again to call in the expert because the best gift you can give a new baby is the best start possible in this world and I believe that is through breastfeeding.
Did you get help from a lactation consultant? How did it impact your breastfeeding journey?