Do you really need a lactation consultant? Why hire a board certified lactation consultant? What does IBCLC really mean? Watch this to find out!
Archive for August, 2010
When I was pregnant, I had lots of thoughts about my future breastfeeding life. I was planning on being one of those out-on-the-town moms–baby nursing happily while in a sling or sitting together under a tree in one of Seattle’s local parks. My biggest concern was how long to breastfeed–not if I could breast feed. But things turned out differently.
Solomon was a sleepy baby and didn’t breastfeed regularly. When he did breastfeed, it was very painful. The nurses told me pain was normal. The pain was so bad I would make my husband stand on my feet during feedings to counteract the nipple pain Still, I was determined to breastfeed.
At the first pediatrician visit, we learned that Solomon was jaundiced. He needed to be on a light bed. After one day on light thereapy, his jaundice was worse and we had to start supplementing with formula. We met with a nurse “lactation specialist” and she suggested supplementing at the breast with a feeding tube. She showed me how to feed Solomon with a tube taped to my breast. The temporary supplementation helped Solomon gain weight and eliminated the jaundice problem so we stopped. Breastfeeding was still excruciating.
After a week of exclusive, frequent breastfeeding, my nipples were badly damaged AND we learned that Solomon wasn’t gaining weight. I was so discouraged! Finally, at the urging of our doula and pediatric clinic, we hired a lactation consultant to help us. Renee noticed tension in Solomon’s jaw and neck. She pointed out that his jaw was slightly asymmetrical. She suspected that he was tongue tied and explained how all these things contribute to poor feedings. Finally, after watching Solomon breastfeed, she determined that my milk supply was low and that he wasn’t doing a great job of taking the milk that I had. No wonder he wasn’t gaining weight!
Renee urged me to temporarily stop breastfeeding and use a pump to allow my nipples to heal and increase my milk production. She referred me to a Dr. who specializes in helping babies who are tongue tied. In addition, she recommended a physical therapist to help Solomon with his tight jaw and neck muscles. I fed Solomon as much breast milk as possible and took a combination of herbs and medications that support milk production.
Solomon’s latch got better immediately after the frenotomy (clipping the frenulum to release the tongue) but it was still slow progress. The body work helped relax his jaw. And, gradually, my milk supply increased to meet my baby’s needs. Finally, at 2 months, I was ready to breastfeed full time, but every time I did, the pain increased.
At Renee’s suggestion, I began to feed Solomon at the breast one feeding a day, then two, and so on until I was totally able to completely breastfeed without pain. I still have worries about losing my milk but so far, into month three, he’s gaining weight and I’m beginning to store milk for when I return to work.
Looking back, I wish I would have hired Renee right after Solomon’s birth. I know we could have gotten off to a better start. We could have identified his challenges and resolved them sooner. I would have been able to focus on being a mom and enjoying my baby.
I’m so happy that we persevered through those early, dark days. Thank you, Renee, for helping us become a success story!
It’s no surprise that there are dozens of “cures” out there for sore nipples. In my lactation practice, nipple pain is the most common reason that mothers seek help. The only real way to “cure” sore nipples, however, is to fix the underlying cause. It’s usually a faulty latch that causes the problem in the first place. Once the latch is corrected, nipples feel better. Usually the results are immediate.
Some antibiotics and prescription medications can be helpful for badly damaged nipples, but nothing can eliminate the pain completely until the latch problem has been resolved. In your efforts to find relief, you may find remedies promising to cure sore nipples. Often these remedies are useless—or even harmful.
Please avoid these commonly recommended but ineffective strategies for healing sore nipples:
Tea bags—Often recommended by nurses and lactation consultants, research has shown that tea bags can actually increase soreness.
Hydrogen peroxide—It is painful and irritating.
Topical Vitamin E—Vitamin E can be toxic for baby.
Restricting time at the breast—This just makes your baby hungrier. He may be more aggressive at the breast and less likely to be patient enough to latch correctly.
Cabbage leaves—Recommended to reduce swelling of engorged breasts, but not helpful for sore nipples.
Nipple creams and oils—Although sometimes soothing, they can cause more problems by making the nipple area so slippery that the baby can’t maintain his latch. Many are not safe for baby.
Using a blow dryer on nipples after feedings—This practice is drying and irritating to an area that is already tender.
Pulling baby’s chin down after he’s latched on– It’s what’s happening inside the baby’s mouth that’s important!
Remember, there should NEVER be pain with breastfeeding. Pain is a signal to the body that something is not right. If you have any pain with breastfeeding, contact a lactation consultant immediately. This is one issue where a “wait and see” approach can have severe consequences.
See also: “Breastfeeding Myth: Sore Nipples”