Dear New Mom: When the Lactation Consultant Hands you a Tissue Box
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I marched into that lactation consultant’s office proud and ready. My husband was pushing our 7 day old twins in the stroller next to us.
My milk had come in strong at 5 days postpartum and we already had a quart extra in the freezer. We’d been bottle feeding after trying them at the breast for the past 4 days after 3 days of syringe feeding in the hospital. Today was the day I was certain the girls and I would figure out this breastfeeding thing and we would be finished with the pumping and the washing and the sleeplessness.
I sat down for my first feed and weigh with my Aeralind. She nursed for a solid twenty minutes stripped down to nothing to keep her awake. The LC was almost uncomfortably close. She weighed my baby girl again and before she said anything, she handed me a tissue box. I needed it.
I was doing everything right, but my tiny girls just were not ready she told me. Then, as I hooked my pump up once again, we developed a plan for helping them learn while keeping my sanity.
Dear New Mama,
Breastfeeding rarely comes easy for anyone. It took me 12 weeks to transition my twins to the breast. When I did, I had mastitis every other week for a month because no one told me that pumping 21 ounces of milk at 3 am wasn’t a good thing (even if you have twins).
For my little boy two years later, I had cracked nipples for the first two weeks because I couldn’t position him correctly on the right side. My toes still curl thinking about it.
My sister’s little guy didn’t gain weight for over a month while nursing every 1.5 hours around the clock. She supplemented a little and took herbs I can’t pronounce and finally they figured each other out around the two month mark.
My mama tried to nurse me. But like my children, I had food sensitivities to dairy (protein that travels through your milk). I screamed and screamed and screamed around the clock. The doctors helped her discover that soy formula eased my tummy troubles. Mama and I were much happier after that discovery.
There is such a push to breastfeed these days, but such precious little support for the nursing mama. Here are 3 things I want to tell any mama who is nursing:
1. Breastfeeding is hard and you need support. Don’t be afraid to call your mama, your nursing friend, a lactation consultant, the La Leche League, the Breastfeeding Center of Greenville, or your pediatrician for any question you need. You can even call me. Yes, even in the middle of the night. Surround yourself with supportive people.
2. Don’t quit on your worst day. You may shed more tears over nursing than anything else in your life, but don’t quit on a day where both you and the baby are screaming. Wait a day or two until you aren’t crying to make that decision. And call over your neighbor, coat them in hand sanitizer, and tell them to hold the screaming baby while you take a nap on your worst day. 😉
3. Do what makes you both happy. Your baby needs a mama who loves them and some kind of nourishment to grow. If breastfeeding is working to provide both of those things (even though it’s hard), keep at it while understanding that this isn’t every mama’s story. If you find pumping and bottle feeding easier, that doesn’t make you less of a mama. If your baby is uncomfortable and formula works better to soothe their tummy, that doesn’t make you less of a mama. If you are crying all the time about nursing and you can’t enjoy nursing and cope with the sleeplessness of being the sole nourisher of your baby, then feed them formula and know that you are not less of a mama for doing so. Make the feeding choice that is right for both you and your baby, and know that you are the most amazing mama that your baby will ever have.
Chin up, new mama. I am so proud of you for loving your little one and giving them the best of you no matter what that looks like.
Cheering you on,