Tag Archives: helping breastfeeding moms

Lactation Derailment Can Begin in the Hospital: 10 Tips for Avoiding a Trainwreck

29 May

I must preface this blog by explaining that

fourteen years ago I became a mother/baby nurse, and ten years ago I became the resident childbirth educator and “breastfeeding counselor” on staff at a local hospital.  We did not have an IBCLC on staff, so I was IT until we hired another educator.  My training as a nurse, some time as a member of La Leche League and my own personal breastfeeding experience was all I had in my arsenal.  Though I wasn’t “official,”  I worked the position of a lactation consultant.  And it wasn’t easy…so many moms…so little time…so many interventions.  That being said, please read the following with the understanding that I have been “on the other side,” doing my best as a nurse to help fresh babies latch…bending over beds as an educator positioning babies and sandwiching breasts for moms who were too sleepy on pain medication post-cesarean to do it themselves.

A week ago, I had the privilege of visiting a new family in the hospital to provide assistance with breastfeeding.  She has given me permission to share my observations.

When I arrived, I had dad undress baby down to diaper and in skin to skin with mom.  The baby was only 36 hours old and very sleepy after a long labor and difficult delivery.  Mom, Dad and I chatted for a moment then got to the business of latch.  The baby would not wake up.

A nurse came in to give mom pain medication.

Though I was not surprised at the baby’s behavior, he appeared jaundiced, and I knew it was important to get colostrum into him.  So, we proceeded to hand express and collect colostrum to spoon/syringe feed him.

Then the baby photographer came in to show the picture previews.

Mom asked her to come back later.  (Reminder:  Mom is sitting in hospital bed with her breasts exposed.) We continued hand expression and then fed the colostrum back to the baby.  He began to exhibit some hunger cues, so we put him back to the breast.

The OB came in to check on mom.

Once again, latch attempt without success.  More hand expression.

Knock, knock? Have you had a chance to look at your pictures? Baby photographer again. (Are you kidding me?)

More teaching, more skin to skin….fed baby more colostrum.

A different nurse came to check on mom.

Another latch attempt…

The first nurse came back to tell mom the baby’s procedure had been delayed.

We wrapped up latch attempts (and the baby) as we knew the nursery nurse would be coming to get the baby soon.  He was happily sleeping in Grandma’s arms as we discussed a care plan.

Persistent photographer, back again, insisting on showing the pictures.

I wrote out mom’s care plan.

Nursery nurse came to retrieve baby.

I ensured mom had my number for questions, planned to follow up with a home visit, and I made my exit.  Did you count the number of interruptions?  How long do you think I was there?

Eight interruptions in one hour and fifteen minutes. 

I left there concerned about derailment and feared I would encounter a trainwreck at her home visit.  Fortunately, when I arrived, breastfeeding was going well and she needed very little assistance from me at the follow up.

Now, I realize everyone that came in just saw me as a visitor.  They weren’t aware of who I was or why I was there.  However, my presence aside, feeding her newborn was mom’s priority, but what was the priority for the people that kept interrupting?  Definitely not feeding a 36 hour old, sleepy newborn who appeared jaundiced.

How can a mom even think about getting breastfeeding established when she is being bombarded by staff from all sides?  It’s sensory overload.  As a private practice lactation consultant, I see the outcome of this all the time….the trainwrecks…the result of the cascade of interventions.

What steps can you take to avoid the trainwreck?

  1. Take a prenatal breastfeeding class so that you know what’s normal for the early days of breastfeeding.
  2. Hire a Doula to minimize birth interventions which can lead to troubles breastfeeding.
  3. Find a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician who will support your breastfeeding goals.
  4. Research local resources for breastfeeding help that are available to you once you get home such as La Leche League or private practice lactation consultant that is an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
  5. Prepare your partner to be the gatekeeper after delivery to minimize interruptions in your breastfeeding. You may also want your partner to accompany your newborn to the nursery to keep watch and ensure your feeding preference is respected.
  6. Hand express your colostrum and feed back to the baby. Doing this up to 6 times a day can increase and speed copious milk production.
  7. Reinforce your desire to breastfeed without any supplementation to every nurse that you have contact with.
  8. Room-in with you baby to keep your baby close and to learn his hunger cues.
  9. Better yet, keep your baby “on” you to facilitate skin to skin contact which has been shown to stabilize temperature,
    heart rate and oxygenation. You are your baby’s best habitat!
  10. Ask to see the lactation consultant…and keep asking….getting help early is so important!
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More Than Meets the Eye: How Doulas Help Moms Breastfeed

12 May

May is International Doula Month…

Source Unknown

As lactation consultants, we are thrilled to work along side our local Houston area doulas.  It is well-supported by research that labor and birth interventions can interfere with the natural course of breastfeeding, and it is also well-supported by research that the incidence of birth complications is reduced by having a doula present at your birth.  However, a doula is more than just “present” at your birth, patting your hand through contractions.  She

  • is passionate about coming along side you during one of the most important and special times in your life,
  • meets with you throughout your pregnancy and builds a relationship with you and your partner to establish trust,
  • provides ongoing education on the labor, birth and postpartum process,
  • assists you in creating a birth plan,
  • actively networks, seeking out the best resources for you,
  • advocates for you at a time when you are most vulnerable,
  • supports you during your labor and birth,
  • acts as a gatekeeper for mom, partner and baby after the birth, and much more…

Doulas are in a unique position to recognize early on any potential breastfeeding challenges.  They understand the importance getting help early.  In our experience, moms with doula support are extremely committed to pursuing breastfeeding even through tough issues.   Cole Deelah, a South-Houston doula, childbirth educator, and midwife apprentice, describes perhaps why we have found this to be true:

“A doula can oftentimes be the mother’s first exposure to breastfeeding education. I encourage the moms that I work with to attend a La Leche League meeting, refer them to area breastfeeding workshops and classes, and offer breastfeeding books from my library, including The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding With Comfort and Joy, and others. A doula also has a lot of time during the prenatal period to educate moms on different helpful positions, what a successful latch and nursing looks like/feels like, local resources, products that might help in the journey, and what is normal/not normal when breastfeeding. And finally, in those first few moments after birth, a doula can help protect the new parenting space, help with initial latch-on, and minimize outside distractions and interference from others. In the first few days after birth, a doula is completely accessible to the new family and can oftentimes be whom the family calls when something doesn’t seem right with the breastfeeding relationship. The doula then has the opportunity to offer additional resources, like a lactation consultant, so as to ensure to the best of abilities, a successful breastfeeding relationship!” (Read more about Cole on her blog, Wonderfully Made Bellies and Babies.)

Three other doulas join Cole in the Houston Doula Cooperative, Nicole Yunker, Lourdes Resendez, and Kimberly Foster.  Read about their co-op here.

Also serving the greater Houston are are the TLC Doulas.  This group is made up of Kathleen Wilson, Dorin Jordan, Amanda Moore, Jessica Gonzales and Rowan TwoSisters.

Now hear from a mom about how her doula helped her breastfeed:

“Hi! I’m LaKendra a proud supporter of breastfeeding, midwives, doulas and all those great non intervention assets surrounding pregnancy and birth. I’m sharing my experience with you regarding Lourdes Resendez who is not just a doula but someone who has really become a special person to me and my 8 month old daughter! Growing up, I knew absolutely no one who breastfed and my family did not support me saying negative things like I’m starving my baby, I’m not producing enough milk, I need to let somebody else feed her, my milk doesn’t have everything she needs like formula, only”white” people do that, I could go on and on about the ignorance and negativity that surrounded me but you get my drift. Kennadi latched on great right after birth and Lourdes took us in for about 3 weeks as I established a great milk supply with her support, I had me a few cups of mothers milk tea on a daily basis which actually was sort of tasty to me, but she gave me that extra boost I needed to get going and staying confident in my decision!! And because of that great start, she’s still exclusively breastfed! Which as a working mom I take to heart because you really have to be dedicated pumping on lunches and breaks, but it’s been a great journey and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!”

…How are you celebrating your doula?

Who’s Feeding Momma? 10 Ways to Support a Breastfeeding Mom

16 Apr

1. Share your successful breastfeeding stories and experiences and leave the negative experience or breastfeeding “horror stories” for another person……a new mom is already emotionally full as she processes her birth experience and contemplates motherhood…she is full of desire to be successful at breastfeeding and bonding with her new baby.  Offering stories of challenges may not fill her with the inspiration she needs, especially if she is struggling…..certainly let her know she is not alone even if there are struggles but adding to the list of “what if” and “could that happen to me” worries is probably going to have a negative effect.

2. Bring her food!! And NO it does not have to be bland and boring just because she is breastfeeding. Most nursing babies have no problem with any foods a mother eats even spicy or bold flavors. You could ask a mother about her preferences but don’t hold back on foods she enjoys. Or make her easy-to-grab, healthy snacks that she can store in her nursing nest and can eat while she feeds the baby!

3. Pamper mom!! Bring her some flowers to brighten the room, offer a foot rub or shoulder massage or bring her some chamomile tea to relax. Fill Momma’s love tank so she can fill baby’s!!!

4. During a feeding help her relax.….if you are present for a feeding, and you see mom getting tense, some gentle relaxation reminders can be helpful! Sometimes her shoulders creep up to her ears. Reminding her to relax and encouraging a few deep breaths can even help with the milk letting down!

5. Ask her what tasks around the house would help reduce her stress.….often times offering to hold the baby or take the baby so she can rest will only stress the mom more or make her feel inadequate as a mother. What may enable her to relax and focus on the baby is clearing the kitchen sink or doing some laundry. Straightening a room or walking the dog? Ask her!!

6. Be the gate keeper…..the early days of learning to breastfeed are usually filled with fumbling and adjusting as mom and baby learn the dance of latching. Mothers may find it hard to manage and focus if there are many visitors stopping in. Help decrease visitors, and you may also want to hold off on long visits until she requests it or feels up to them!

7. Send encouraging texts and emails….let her know how proud you are of her efforts to breastfeed, her dedication to breastfeeding, her amazing mothering abilities…….a simple text like ” You are an awesome mom and every drop of breastmilk you give your baby is a precious gift!” can carry her to through a long feeding at 2 am or a round of evening cluster feedings!

8. If she needs help…help her find good help…..IBCLC’s are the gold standard for  lactation care, bring her a list of local IBCLC’s to call on if she is having any issues!

9. Look up her local chapter of La Leche League and help her get to a meeting! Mother to mother breastfeeding support is invaluable…..she needs to feel like she is not alone…..even if everything is going well, it is good to meet other like-minded moms doing all the same things she is!

10. Help educate others around the new mother about ways to help support her! If you are reading this blog, there is a strong likelihood that you have a new mom in your life…..pass this blog on to others in her life as well.  Create a “village” around this new mom to inspire and support her on the journey of breastfeeding her baby.  Each child we see breastfed in this generation will contribute to a healthier and happier world in the next!!

Meet the BABE IBCLCs…Leah Jolly

22 Nov

My journey towards Lactation consultant work started with my love for science. I grew up thrilled with anything science and nature. I explored my world with the eyes of a scientist. I was so interested in the natural course of life and as I moved through my school aged years my interest grew and I was drawn into science as a career path in college.  I began college sure I wanted to work with animals but after a year of veterinary nursing school I was not so sure, I found my self more drawn to human life and sciences. So I transferred to University of Houston Clear-Lake and acquired a degree in Biology.

In my last year of college I met and married my husband. We started our family a year later. My first breastfeeding experience came when my first son arrived and due to his oral motor hypotonia, we struggled a great deal and with a lack of support to continue through the struggles, we only had 4 weeks of breastfeeding. I was devastated and determined to have a different experience the next time. When my second arrive, in 2003, after a very traumatic birth, breastfeeding started on another difficult path. Determined to not give up, I sought the support of my local La Leche League group and this is where it all began.  Even though we still had a very difficult time breastfeeding, the support and encouragement made it all so much easier! After a year with the group, I began my work to become a leader.

We had two more children, in 2005 and 2009 and with each one my breastfeeding experiences became more and more positive and less difficult.  I continued my work with La Leche League and loved helping moms achieve their breastfeeding goals. I was so reward to give back what was given to me! In the fall of 2010 I decided I want to be able to help moms even more and made plans to sit for the 2011 IBCLC exam.  I met Misti through our La Leche League work and we decided to become study partners…..well the rest is history!! My dreams have come true beyond measure! I absolutely love working as an IBCLC. I love empowering moms to listen to their own voice and their baby. It is a joy to be part of such a special part of the mothering journey! Daily, I am amazed at the strength and perseverance of mothers. I look forward to many years of working with moms and babies!