Thursday, August 7, 2014

Overcoming Breastfeeding Obstacles: The Teacher Becomes the Student

I knew well before I had my daughter, I wanted to breastfeed. Having worked with newborns for 7 years, I had a lot of training and experience teaching mothers how to breastfeed and all sorts of related troubleshooting. I felt prepared and confident when Caroline arrived.

From the time Caroline was born, I had difficulty getting her to comfortably latch on my right side. In the hospital, I was seen by Lactation Consultants who felt she was latching well. The cracking began within the first week and was made worse by engorgement. Every feed was painful and breastfeeding turned into a stressful and anxiety filled experience. Soon, cracking developed on the right side that got so bad it looked like a crater. I tried different creams, airing out, salt water soaks, a breast shield and was seen by another LC and my OB to make sure there wasn't anything I was missing. Many days I just wanted to give up because of the pain. Caroline was able to get my milk and thrive, so I continued to try to improve her latch and work towards my goal of exclusively breastfeeding for her first year. After 3 bouts of mastitis and 2 episodes of Caroline vomiting blood she had swallowed, I decided to pump the injured side for 72 hours to allow healing and feed her the pumped milk in a bottle. I figured out that it was my own awkwardness feeding her on my non-dominant side that was causing her poor latch. I made sure she was well supported and took my time getting a correct latch each time. By 8 weeks old, our feeding times finally became relaxing and enjoyable! She is now 6 1/2 months old and we have a great breastfeeding relationship!

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