I’ve had this post sitting in draft since February 21st. I’ve come back to it multiple times, but this is the first where I’m not in tears or angry about how things are going. Now I’m talking about the issue instead of just incoherently venting about the frustration. Please know that I’m not bashing Lactation Consultants as a whole, I think it’s a wonderful profession and doesn’t have the regard or the influence that it should have. However, I am talking about my experiences; which were less than stellar. I think if there were more demand for LC services then, by sheer experience, the LCs I have come in contact with would have been better equipped to handle my particular problems. I hope that my negative experiences will not steer women away from using an LC, but encourage them to ask for second opinions and keep looking for answers until a problem is dealt with. I also hope that if I have problems with future children that I will not allow these experiences to keep me from asking for help.
My experience with Lactation Consultants (LCs) has not been a good. I’ve seen or talked to 3 different women and none of them were able to help in any way, any of the time. One of them even honestly told me that I was so well informed that I could probably do her job. I’ve visited my local La Leche League meeting and at my first meeting was answering more questions more thoroughly than the leaders. I’ve researched a lot I’ve read books, googled my mind out, watched videos. But either I’m weird or women with similar problems are keeping their mouth shut. Or like me, told that what they’re experiencing was part of the process. Or unlike me, giving up breastfeeding.
When Aedyn was born we made our first attempt less than 20 minutes after he appeared. I didn’t wait for help, I wanted to try it myself without interference from someone telling me how it “should” be done. The first try he didn’t have his mouth open very far, so, like I’d read, I pulled back before he could latch and tried again. The second time it was perfect, except I didn’t realize that newborns were directly related to Dyson vacuums. The nurses in the room were shocked and told me that they’d never seen a newborn latch so well, so quickly.
I had asked for a visit by an LC once I was settled, but she didn’t come until the next day, other than fussing at me for trying to nurse during the night without turning the light on (which she only knew because we’d missed the nipple and the mini Dyson had left a huge hickey on me) she didn’t have any tips and then tried to pile pillows around me that made me sit in uncomfortable positions and made it hard for Aedyn to get comfortable and stay latched. It was painfully obvious that she’d never had experience with someone who was a cup size L-M (yup, that’s me) and didn’t realize that I need different positions than “normal”. So after she left I just felt like it was a waste of time.
The next day her supervisor came in. This lady called Aedyn and I her best students. Umm, really? Because I’ve never seen you before, your associate didn’t help and just tried to make things difficult. I did my own research and learning, latched my baby on without help and was successfully nursing him without instruction or helpful input from anyone. Ok, lady, yeah, your best students, right. But I did ask her for help, I wanted to know if there were any positions for large breasted women that I could try, especially since I had had an urgent c-section and really couldn’t nursing side-lying because I couldn’t roll over or get up from that position without some intense abdominal pain. Nope. Nothing that I didn’t already know. So my second question, I’m feeling a lot of pain when he nurses today, throughout the entire feeding. She checked his latch, he was fine, so I must just have sensitive nipples and need to just “get used to it”.
Thanks to Google I found positions that worked great for me and even more that made my life considerably easier.
|Nursed out at 4 months
But the pain, the pain didn’t get any better. I didn’t “get used to it”. I called back and was told if his latch was fine and he was gaining weight/having appropriate diapers then it was just me being too sensitive. (Just a note: I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, I managed to recover from a c-section on nothing more than Motrin and even with the Motrin I was in tears every time Aedyn nursed until he was over 3 months old.) I would pump bottles for him when things got too bad just so I’d get a break for a feeding. He was gaining great and diapers were never a problem. I honestly answered other mom’s and our pediatrician’s questions when I was asked how it was going, but I guess they didn’t really understand how excruciating the pain really was. After about 3 months the pain faded and then finally disappeared. Aedyn and I went on to have a wonderful and very successful breastfeeding relationship until he was 13 months old, when I got pregnant with his brother and he weaned. I probably could have encouraged him to nurse longer, but it made me irritable and fidgety and my nipples were really tender again; all of which was normal and I kind of expected. So while weaning saddened me some, overall I was ok with it, and seemed to be too.
I didn’t find out until Aedyn was 2 what was causing that pain we had at the beginning, it was in a small paragraph in the troubleshooting section of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. He was tongue-tied. We knew that of course, and had chosen not to do anything at birth because it was a mild case, he was eating and gaining fine. We didn’t see the point of a procedure that he wasn’t really medically necessary until it became a problem. We decided that we would have the tie clipped if it seemed like it was ever interfering with his speech. Which it isn’t. What it did do was cause his tongue to not stick out quite as far as it should and rub against my nipple every time he sucked.
No one with medical/lactation training either knew or thought to mention this possibility, even though everyone knew he was tongue-tied. I didn’t know how to communicate the extent of the pain I had and when I mentioned it I felt like I was being whiny and a baby about it from everyone’s responses.
If I weren’t stubborn to a fault, and even more if we’d been able to afford formula, I don’t know if I would have kept nursing after the first four weeks. But we didn’t have the money. Breastfeeding was not an option for me, it was a necessity; so I made it work and I’m so glad I did! After that first 3 months, it was worth every minute!
Stick around for the next couple of blogs in this series about positions that I found that worked and then the new and different types of issues that Jaron and I had, why I still don’t like LCs, and how we’re doing now!
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Also check out my thoughts on Nursing In Public and How to Make Your Own Nursing Bra.