Monday

help with breastfeeding

Yesterday an acquaintance of mine called and asked if I could come by and help his wife with some breastfeeding questions she was having. She had only been home from the hospital after a c-section for 3 days and she was feeling overwhelmed and panicky about how nursing was going.

I told him I'd be happy to come by, and asked if I could bring my sister, Betsy, who has nursed two children and teaches the prenatal breastfeeding classes at a local hospiatl. He happily agreed.

So we both went by and visited with them for a little while. The baby is absolutely GORGEOUS! Babies delivered via c-section definitely don't look as "beat up" as other babes, and he looked like a baby out of a picture book.

He was nursing, but his mother was afraid he wasn't getting enough milk and was feeling postpartum and weepy. Her milk was starting to come in, and the sensation had her concerned she might be getting mastitis.

It turns out that she just needed some help with positioning him properly and knowing that she needed to get more of her breast into his little mouth. We also explained to her that the "feedings every two to three hours" was a minimum, and that in the first week or so, it's good to offer the breast every 45 minutes or so, even if he only nurses for a minute or two before falling back asleep. She hadn't had the chance to take a breastfeeding class or do much reading before he was born, so was doing her best getting started nursing without much info or support. We also suggested she stop giving him the pacifier until breastfeeding was better established.

By the time we left, she was smiling, and the beautiful baby had finished off one breast and was ready to start on the other one. Milk was dribbling out the corner of his mouth and he had that newborn "milk drunk" look that lets you know he's eating well.

Those first few days are so tiring and scary with a new baby. They're also critical to establishing breastfeeding. With the right advice and support, most "problems" are easily solved. She literally just needed someone to show her how to hold the baby and how to get his mouth on her breast. No one had really shown her this and she didn't know how.

It's too bad more American hospitals don't offer a midwifery/doula care model that would send a helper around the the house a few days after birth to listen to the new mother and help her with any questions or concerns she might have.

And it's very satisfying to help someone begin such a wonderful relationship with their baby.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

you know what: my hospital DID in fact do just that. The woman was from LLL and she was absolultely CLUELESS. In a way, their offering this "help" lulled me into thinking that any problem would be solved just like magic by LLL showing up. I have talked to a lot of people and for every person who was helped so tremendously there are a couple more who found the "help" had their thumbs up their butt except when it came to guilting them when they gave the baby formula.

ErinOrtlund said...

I don't know if I would have made it through my breastfeeding problems had I given birth in the US. DD was born at 36 weeks and by c-section, and we had a lot of problems with latching. But because I was in Scotland, I was kept in the hospital an additional two days for help with feeding (pumping and cup feeding), had midwife visits once I got home, and was readmitted to the neonatal transitional unit for a night when DD still wasn't nursing well. Finally, we got it! I just can't imagine a US insurance company would have given me those extra hospital days, because after all, I could have just given formula.

Anonymous said...

It was so nice of you to go out of your way to help someone that you barely knew.What a great way to end the year. jcb

clara said...

I really think that newborns miss the umbilical cord dearly & its hard for moms to realize they really eat almost constantly in the first month or two.

I`m so glad you both could help her!

Erika said...

Yay for you and your sister!
oh how i remember those scary first days...

Anonymous said...

I would love to be a LC, midwife (I went to school for RN to be an nurse midwife but it didn't work out), or a doula. It is SO important that there is support. The people at St. Mary's were great and my Mother breastfed as did my sister-in-law so I had tons of support.

DJackson

Anonymous said...

fort sanders parkwest hadthe nurse who taught the lactation classes come to my room to help us out

Nicole said...

the hospital I delivered at in Michigan had lactation consultants on staff. I had a couple of visits from them while still in the hospital that were critical. Even more important, they had a hotline where you could call for questions and support. The ability to talk to someone -- in my case, mostly for reassurance -- made all the difference.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Katie would have been so "helpful" if this did not revolve around breastfeeding???? Would she have taken the time to help another mother if it was not yet another opportunity to add to the world breastfeeding tally? Don't kid yourself...this is proably not so much about helping another mother as it is about pursuing her sacred cow of breastfeeding. If say, that mother was formula feeding but needed help with something would Katie have been so quick to dash on over??? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

Hi Katie, I think you did a lovely thing, support from other breastfeeding mothers can be essential in the early weeks. I just had my third baby and he is my second breastfed baby (first was premature and I got no support breastfeeding in his birth country England). I saw a lactation consultant just before leaving hospital with baby number three and am really glad I got her help and advice as feeding a newborn is different to feeding his 2-year old sister and I had forgotten a few things.
Amanda, New Zealand