04 May 2019

I was the fourth lactation consultant seen by this mother; one of them had referred her to me for craniosacral  therapy because breastfeeding was neither comfortable nor easy, and there was a history of slowed infant weight gain.

She arrived, bearing so much stuff that it took 3 trips to unload everything from her car. The baby in the carseat. The nursing pillow, a portable shelf. The pump. The diaper bag. The cooler bag with bottles of pumped milk. Her purse. She had left the gliding rocker at home.

We sat outside, on the patio outside my office, enjoying the lovely warm sun of a spring day. Mothers who are struggling with breastfeeding often enjoy being outdoors, where the gentle breezes and nourishing energies of the outside world recharge their spirits.

She took the baby out of the car seat, and almost immediately the baby started showing feeding cues. She looked around, trying to figure out how she could get the nursing pillow on before starting the feed. With some encouragement to forget about the pillow, she leaned back in the chair, but couldn’t get comfortable. We then moved into my office, where she laid back on the couch pillows, holding her baby in a longitudinal lie, and the baby immediately started breastfeeding.

She sighed softly. “This is so easy.”  Her eyelids fluttered as she drifted away into a drowsy state, while her baby suckled.

Then, we discussed her history. The dream birth versus the unwanted induction because she had gone 5 hours since her water broke without any labor. The shock of the unwanted cesarean section. “I knew that I could have given birth.” The baby being taken away to NICU for some breathing issues. Weeping, “I didn’t get to see my baby for 4 hours.”  The tears flowed down her sweet face, onto her baby’s busy nursing head. She practiced hugging her baby close during a feed as she sat up, and also as she stood up and walked around my office.

(Women need to breastfeed standing up so that they can get housework done. Glider-rockers hold mothers upright, forcing them and their babies to deal with gravity, and providing movement in a non-comforting way.)

She spoke of the panic when the baby, after a few weeks of not quite comfortable breastfeeding, stopped gaining. She recounted the visits with the pediatrician, the formula, the pumping, and the diminution of breastfeeding. The constant worry. 3 lactation consultants, the  posterior tongue tie and revision.  The supplemental nursing system. The pumping 8 times a day and paced bottle-feeding. Her dreams of breastfeeding were lost, along with her dreams of birth.

She and her baby breastfed at least 6 times during the visit; this mother relaxed so much that she complained that she didn’t want to get up and drive home just yet. She took my offer to stay in my office, comfortable and nursing, for as along as she wanted. I reassured her that I would be living my life upstairs. She took the offer and stayed for at least another hour.

The new approach, to forget the nursing pillow, to forget the nipple shield, to forget the supplemental nursing system and to forget the glider-rocker, has brought bliss. She is connecting her emotions with her milk flow; she can not flow when she is worried or in a stressful situation.

This morning she wrote: ” I had an enlightened moment. My baby tends to feed closer together in the evenings – and of course, that’s when my milk flow is slower. Baby is also more alert at this hour and looks around, smiles at me, etc. All this time, I had been feeling like my milk flow needed to be faster so baby wouldn’t experience the need to “work” at getting the milk and become frustrated. I finally realized that this was a belief I had and who am I to say that’s to be true. This feeding took much longer – and we worked through it. I started to get a new flow of milk coming in much more quickly. Baby drank to heart’s content and then came off the breast. It’s been my belief that I need to do everything right which somehow included speed it up.”

This mother is approaching easy time, where breastfeeding becomes automatic and responsive. She’s doing the discovery now, in the second month of her baby’s life, that should have been done at the beginning.

When breastfeeding is taught, the emphasis is on numbers (how many times for how long, how many diapers, how much weight change). This leads to worry about doing it “right”.  Add worry to the anger, grief and pain that are the aftermath of a medicalized, technologically-driven birth and the result is a disturbed breastfeeding relationship.

My goal is to give encouragement and practical advice, along with creating a relaxed environment where both the mother and I are the baby’s timetable, to enable both to build their own way of breastfeeding.

The joy comes when mother and baby discover each other and their own unique breastfeeding relationship.







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