When breastfeeding isn’t easy, lactation consultants can help
Lydia Robinson was already an experienced Mother/Baby nurse when she gave birth to her first child. So she didn’t need any help with breastfeeding.
Except that she did, and didn’t know it.
“My baby was feeding and gaining weight,” Robinson recalls. “But there was a lot of pain from my baby’s latch, and though I had a support system, my friends didn’t have the experience that I had. So there was no one to tell me that it wasn’t supposed to hurt.”
Though the hospital where she worked had a lactation consultant, Robinson didn’t think she needed one. Now, years later as a Certified Lactation Counselor at St. Joseph’s/Candler, Robinson often sees new moms who feel the same way. Not because they are Mother/Baby nurses too, but simply because they are moms.
Natural vs. Easy
“A lot of mothers are hesitant to use support services available in the hospital because, after all, breastfeeding is supposed to be natural, right?” Robinson says. “But what we try to communicate is that even though breastfeeding is natural, that doesn’t mean it is always easy.”
Robinson stresses that asking for help with breastfeeding does not mean that you are failing to do something that should come naturally.
“Even experienced mothers can benefit from lactation support because every pregnancy, every delivery, and every baby is different,” she says. “What worked well with the first baby may not work with their second. It’s never wrong to ask for help if you have questions or concerns. In fact, a lot of our visits consist of us reminding moms of everything they are doing right.”
Healthy Support (Attention, Dads!)
A lactation consultant is just one more means of general support for a new mom in the exhausting early days after delivery.
“I encourage all mothers, while they are pregnant, to find a means of support for when her baby arrives,” Robinson says. “There are community breastfeeding groups, online breastfeeding forums, and even friends who have breastfed before. Don’t feel like you have to figure this out alone. Women flourish when they come together to help and encourage each other.”
New dads can help, too.
“Holding the baby skin-to-skin while mom takes a shower, for example, can help her feel supported and it will help with breastfeeding,” Robinson says. The skin-to-skin contact will encourage the bond between the father and child while mom gets a much-needed break. Dads should also be ready to help make mom more comfortable during breastfeeding and offer to burp the baby as well. Since breastfeeding and caring for a newborn is hard work, dads can make a huge difference by taking on the household chores and making sure mom gets as much rest as she can.
A Learning Process
When asked about how natural the process of breastfeeding should be, Robinson often makes the simple analogy of learning to walk.
“It’s very natural to walk, but it still has to be learned,” she says. “Both mother and baby have to learn how to feed.”
First-time moms can benefit from a breastfeeding class such as the ones offered monthly at St. Joseph’s/Candler. A class can help build confidence in a new mom, and the instructor will also remind them that asking for assistance after delivery is not only okay, but smart.
“Because sometimes the babies don’t pay attention to the class,” Robinson says with a laugh.
Support Is Always Near
All of the nurses in St. Joseph’s/Candler’s Telfair BirthPlace are specially trained to help with common breastfeeding needs while mother and baby are in the hospital. Certified Lactation Counselors like Lydia Robinson are available in the hospital and also for free outpatient appointments after discharge. Don’t hesitate to call our Breastfeeding Warm-Line at 912-819-8231 with any questions or concerns you may have. You can also call to arrange to meet with a lactation consultant.
We also have helpful information on all aspects of labor, delivery, and newborn care at www.sjchs.org/telfairbirthplace.