New mamas, how many times have you heard that? My thoughts on breastfeeding before getting pregnant, at first I was a hard no, I’m not doing that. Once I was pregnant, I warmed up to the idea and as I got further along, while it was something that I wanted to do, I also wasn’t tied down to the idea in case I physically couldn’t.
While I was pregnant, I came across Dr. Schell. An OB-GYN in the local Miami area, now offering Post-Partum Care services. I loved this concept since there is SUCH a need for it! One of her services is offering breastfeeding support. While sure, I could probably have googled and consulted a whole bunch of other mamas, I wanted to go this route. I’m so happy I did! I invested in her packages and will also be working with her for sleep training in a few weeks, stay tuned! I had one virtual call with Dr. Schell prior to going into labor, so I felt prepared with the latch technique she showed me and felt comfortable knowing I had plenty of calls remaining to work with her!
As soon as Sprinkle was born they immediately placed her on my chest and we tried to get her to latch. Honestly, I can’t remember if she successfully did at this point or not, there was SO much going on and I was so overwhelmed with the moment of her finally being with us! Later on back in our post-partum room our “journey” began. I had planned to feed Sprinkle ever 1.5-2 hours day time and every 3 hours at night. Operative word being “planned”. Using Dr. Schell’s technique, my brest friend pillow in tow, Sprinkle would latch, but would suck 2-3x and call it a day. But we kept trying ALL day. Our first night was the most difficult. She refused to suck and was inconsolable. Our nurse tried helping, and finally after a few hours, Joel was able to calm her down.
At the hospital they had two different lactations consultants come meet with me. One was VERY aggressive in her approach and frankly off putting. The other was definitely less subtle in her approach and helpful, but at the end of the day, I left that hospital without being able to successfully breastfeed. The most helpful person was a nurse who kept checking on me almost every 20 minutes and offered great support. Finally we gave Sprinkle formula to ensure she was at least eating and I started pumping.
Keep in mind what you produce the first few days is colostrum, not actual milk, but I was happy to pump quite a bit and baby girl was happy to drink it all from a bottle. Was I nervous that we had introduced a bottle, ABSOLUTELY. But I remember seeing Dr. Schell post that this would be something we could work on.
Going home I knew I was going to have to pump until I was able to speak with Dr. Schell. Mistake number 1, not having a hands free pumping bra. I had literally EVERYTHING else, not sure how I missed this. It honestly almost broke me waiting for Amazon to deliver that damn bra. I was miserable holding those bottles for 20 minutes every two hours. Joel was amazing the first few days washing everything for me after I would pump, but I was exhausted.
I finally spoke with Dr. Schell who observed a feeding with Sprinkle. The latch was good, but my nipples might be the problem. My nipples are a little flat, so a little hard for Sprinkle to suck. She recommended we try a nipple shield. What I love about Dr. Schell is that her care is individualized, meaning, this was my recommendation. Had I not spoken with her directly I may have been given different suggestions or solutions. Immediately, I purchased the nipple shields. Joel was hesitant and practically believed this wouldn’t work. Let me tell you, I popped on those shields and Sprinkle DRANK. I can say it was one of the top experiences I’ve had, being able to provide from my body for my baby girl.
Dr. Schell and I had discussed that the nipple shields don’t have to be forever. With trial and error we will go fading out the nipple shields. As a BCBA, I love the term fading. Basically, we’re adding something to the environment to help us get to the end goal, but we ultimately want to fade this “help” so that it can be done independently. By chance this week Sprinkle was HUNGRY, but the nipple shields were downstairs. I gave it a go feeding her without the shields and baby girl did it! It wasn’t perfect, but after a few attempts not only was she latched and sucking, but she was drinking! Since then, we’ve been doing a lot of practicing and ultimately the goal will be to not have to use the nipple shields!
Let me tell you, breastfeeding is WORK. Might as well be a full time job. It’s hard and tiring, but also so rewarding and I feel lucky that I’ve had the success I’ve had because I am also aware that not everyone is as lucky. I’ve also been lucky to have a great support system behind me from my family and friends, to my Instagram family and most importantly Dr. Schell!
Now our next step…dairy free breastfeeding. More on this to come soon!