Sometimes breastfeeding isn't so easy after all. Sometimes breastfeeding needs encouragement and guidance by a compassionate professional who really knows what they're talking about.
I have had four very different breastfeeding stories. Breastfeeding has never came easy for me.
Round One: From the beginning of my first pregnancy in 1999 I had a profound curiosity about pregnancy, labor, and birth. I was an adolescent mom with a thirst for information. Being an unmarried teen mom came with a lot of assumptions and lack of support from the medical community. I found great support through my family/friends. The birth of my first daughter was everything I had hoped for, and it ignited my passion for birth.During my postpartum period I experienced breastfeeding with an SNS system (after my pediatrician suggested to supplement with formula) due to my daughter having jaundice and not gaining weight. Breastfeeding continued to be hard, and I decided to formula feed after a month.
Round Two: When I became pregnant with my second daughter in 2004 I continued my search for information, took a different type of birth class, changed my care provider/location, and birth team. The birth of my second daughter was much like the first; an empowering and unique event of its own. Again, breastfeeding was a challenge, my daughter had jaundice, and this time it was much more severe. To treat my daughters jaundice a visiting nurse came to our home and set up photo therapy lights. My daughter was treated on the lights for several days, and I could only hold her to breastfeed (with an SNS system). Bonding with my new baby at this time was very difficult for me due to not being able to hold her, and breastfeeding became more difficult. Gaining weight continued to be a problem for my daughter and due to that, I decided to formula feed.
Round Three (It finally works): My pregnancy with my third daughter in 2009, opened my eyes to ALL of the available choices in our local area. I was amazed in the new options and locations I had to give birth! I chose to have my third daughter at a free standing birth center (outside of the hospital with licensed midwives). Again, I changed my birth team and added a birth doula. I prepared for this birth by taking a Hypnobabies class, and found it to work amazingly throughout my whole labor.
I prepared and educated myself to breastfeed my third daughter. I experienced some negative aspects of formula feeding with my first two daughters who both suffered from compromised immune systems and several ear infections. My second daughter had two sets of tubes, her adnoids removed, and attended speech therapy for 5 years due to the ear infections. Guess what? My third daughter had jaundice and my pediatrician suggested that I formula feed. I immediately asked for a prescription to see a lactation consultant, made a plan with her, consulted my doula, and breastfed that baby until she was 18 months!
Round Four (Here we go again): In 2014 we were blessed with Charlie Mae who was born at home. Charlie's birth was quick, gentle, and exactly what we wanted. Breastfeeding was again an issue, this time it was quickly diagnosed as a posterior tongue tie and a tight upper lip. Charlie received a clipping of her frenulum under her tongue (twice), and her upper lip. Charlie continued to have transferring issues and after several months we decided to exclusively pump. My supply dwindled and we were forced with another decision: how to continue to feed Charlie breastmilk. With my previous experiences, I felt it was very important for Charlie to stay on breastmilk for the first year. Fortunately, I knew a lot of mothers who also wanted Charlie to stay on breastmilk and donated their milk to me. When they say "it take a village to raise a child", it really took a village to feed my child. Charlie received about 80% donated breastmilk her first full year. It was such a blessing.
Puget Sound Doula's Jen Laird offers breastfeeding education and additional support. If you are experiencing breastfeeding issues beyond the scope for Jen or I, we can refer you to several private lactation consultants.
Working with an IBCLC (or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is an excellent way to address your breastfeeding challenges in a healthy, supportive way. An IBCLC isn't just any lactation expert, they are a certified, health care professional who specializes in clinical management of breastfeeding. That's as official as it gets!
Here are a couple of our favorite IBCLCs in Seattle: