My Personal Breastfeeding Experience

I have been a lactation consultant for almost 5 years now! It was not until I had my first baby that I truly understood the ins and outs of breastfeeding. Prior to experiencing breastfeeding myself, I feel like I was able to help moms with the “basics of breastfeeding”. I would assess latch and teach them the things that I had learned from my training and other colleagues. But I did not feel that I was well-equipped to truly help moms prepare for and endure the early days of breastfeeding! Helping moms with this piece is now one of my biggest passions in my career. I wanted to share a brief version of my breastfeeding experience today in hopes that it will help someone feel more “normal” about where they are at in their breastfeeding journey.

Because of my background and involvement in breastfeeding education prior to giving birth, I always planned on breastfeeding. I really didn’t put a ton of thought into it prior to giving birth. I bought the necessary items that made me feel prepared and thought it would just work out. Looking back, I was very naive about the whole thing!

Emma was born at 39 weeks after almost 24 hours of labor. So when she was placed skin to skin after birth and the nursing staff was encouraging me to try breastfeeding for the first time, I barely had the strength and energy to hold her on my chest let alone think about all of the breastfeeding positions and signs of proper latch. Despite feeling unprepared when I first started feeding, Emma seemed to latch well and was getting plenty of colostrum the first couple of days in the hospital. I had great nurses and lactation consultants who were eager to help me succeed.

Fast forward to her first pediatrician appointment about 48 hours after discharge from the hospital—Emma’s weight was stable with her discharge weight but was not increasing like it should. I had another consult with a lactation consultant who told me everything looked great with latch and to just keep feeding frequently and her weight should be up at the next visit. At this point, Emma started cluster feeding aka feeding every 20-30 minutes AROUND THE CLOCK! The girl never slept which meant I didn’t either. The sleep deprivation was worth it to me to see her weight increase at our next pediatrician appointment later that week. When we went to the next appointment, I was a hot mess from lack of sleep, but I was confident she had gained weight because of the frequent feedings. When the nurse placed her on the scale and her weight barely increased from the previous visit, I immediately started crying. At this point, our pediatrician calmly told me that she was going to check closer to make sure that nothing was physically wrong with her such as heart problems and then call the lactation consultant again. Thankfully, Emma was very healthy and had no issues with her heart. The lactation consultant assessed Emma’s mouth and reported that she may have a posterior tongue tie. The pediatrician looked but wasn’t sure that could be causing her poor weight gain. After a lot of discussion, we decided to go home again and try frequent feedings and see what happened.