“Some people just aren’t able to breastfeed. I never could do it,” the nurse said as she handed my baby girl back to me.
The scale had revealed the truth. During the past two weeks, I had tried everything to make breastfeeding work. But it wasn’t.
My newborn lost 14 ounces in 2 weeks.
And I lost every bit of confidence in my mothering abilities. I had one job–to feed the baby–and I couldn’t do it. My dreams of breastfeeding this baby just like my mom had done for all 7 of us were over.
This was on a Monday. Our doctor asked us to come back on Thursday for a weight check. If she hadn’t gained, then I was done. It would be time for a high calorie formula.
On Thursday, we weighed her and she had gained 7 ounces.
What made the difference?
One of my top breastfeeding rules is this: Ask for help. Then ask for help again. And ask for help some more.
If it doesn’t work, then ask for help over and over again until you hit the jackpot. Someone out there just might know the solution, so it’s just a matter of finding the right person. I know it doesn’t work out this way for everyone, but for me, getting help and support from others has made all the difference in breastfeeding.
Before our big breastfeeding turnaround, I had asked a lot of people for help. It took the right combination of answers to resolve our the very unique and common aspects of our particular breastfeeding issues.
So where can you find good breastfeeding help?
1. Friends & Family
If you know anyone who has breastfed, ask them for help! You’ll probably feel more comfortable with them, especially if you need more hands on assistance with positioning. It will also create a closer bond.
My mom was a big help with many aspects of breastfeeding, but our issue was that I had been given a nipple shield (for no real reason), which caused my baby to be gassy & miserable. She was also not receiving enough milk through the shield. My mom nursed 7 babies and taught me a lot about nursing, but there was no way she could have known what to do about a nipple shield.
2. La Leche League
There are groups like this everywhere, so find one near you and use it!
Once we realized what was going on with my baby, we looked for breastfeeding help in my discharge papers and found the name and number of a La Leche League Leader…who also happened to go to church with me. So I called Lisa and she helped me trouble shoot the nipple shield problem. But after following her advice (which was super hard!), my baby could finally nurse a little without the shield, but never for longer than a minute or so. And she was just so sleepy…
3. OB nurses & doctors
An OB nurse taught the breastfeeding class I took before my first baby was born. She was really only filling in for another nurse, but she announced that if we ever need anything, we should call her. Once I got the devastating news that my baby had lost so much weight, I called this OB nurse. She stayed with me after work for an hour to figure out what position my baby liked to nurse in. We found the football or clutch hold to be best. She also taught me other techniques. My baby latched and nursed for quite some time. It was amazing. After that hour of help, we were golden. My baby nursed beautifully and gained weight. It was a huge answer to my new-mama prayers.
Your doctor wants you to be successful with this (if he doesn’t then find a new one!). If you have a significant medical issue or a problem with supply, talk to him or her and find out what options are available.
4. Lactation Consultants
Most hospitals have a good lactation consultant on staff, and they often check on nursing moms while they’re in the hospital. It’s their job, so ask them for help, no matter how small it is!
With my second, I called the consultant in because unlike my first baby, this one was eating constantly. Maybe he wasn’t really getting anything and that’s why he was a piranha. Was his latch correct? Yep, she said, this is normal. I had no idea what normal looked like after my first baby. My third baby was sleepy on the second day after birth, but the consultant assured me that this was normal too. Once he woke up and was more alert, he was a great nurser.
5. Nurses in the Hospital Nursery
These ladies work with new babies and new mommies all the time. Some may have zero knowledge about breastfeeding (I’ve had one of those!) and others may be passionate about it. Ask around! They’re there to help. With my third baby, I was very weak when the baby was brought to me to hold and nurse him for the first time. My temperature and blood pressure were low, and I didn’t have the strength to hold him at all. When the nurse wheeled him in, I explained the situation to her. I didn’t want to not nurse this baby just because I was physically weak at this moment! So she cheerfully plugged him in. I still wasn’t strong enough later that day, so my husband made it his job to position and hold the baby for me. He’s learned about breastfeeding over the years!
I’m going to let you in on a secret about asking for breastfeeding help. Breastfeeding moms are passionate about it. They want to help you, but they are often just waiting to be asked–I never want to be the mom who pushes breastfeeding on everyone around her. So don’t feel like you’re annoying her. Call a stranger to ask for help. You’ll be chatting about leaking milk in no time.
Did you ever have to ask for breastfeeding help? Who was your biggest help?
This was the last post in our series celebrating World Breastfeeding Week. Be sure to check out the other posts!