Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Time for a little something

If a year ago someone told me that there is such a profession as "lactation consultant", I would have laughed. "Do you mean like a pet psychologist?" I'd ask. A friend of mine from college wanted to be a pet psychologist when she was in middle school. When she wrote an essay about it, her teacher said firmly, "There is no such thing as a pet psychologist!" "Yes, there is," replied my friend pointing to the yellow pages for Manhattan. I always thought that's the only place where pet psychologists and lactation consultants existed and that they were only hired by people with more money than they knew what to do with. Well, let me tell you -- last week I learned how wrong I was about lactation consultants (not sure about pet psychologists yet).

On friday, I called the nurses' station of Mount Auburn hospital in tears. My breasts hurt so badly, it felt as if needles were being stuck into them each time I sat down to breast feed. Up to this point we got more advice about breast feeding than we knew what to do with. Every nurse and lactation consultant in the hospital seemed to have an opinion on pretty much everything (from latch, to positions, to frequency of feedings), and no one agreed on anything. Wake her up every two hours. No, let her sleep. Feed until she lets go off the breast herself. No wonder your breasts hurt, you shouldn't feed for more than 20 minutes. You might feel some pain during latch on. You shouldn't feel any pain at all. Let your nipples air dry. Cover them immediately and put on a bra.

Thank goodness that in the middle of all this pain and confusion, one midwife, Sharon, gave me the best advice I've gotten on breast feeding so far. "Only listen to one person." She recommended I go see a lactation consultant for a real consultation rather than 5 minute ones I've been getting in the hospital. "Beth at Isis Maternity is very good," added Sharon. We called Isis and luckily got an appointment for the same day.

After taking a look at my cracked and bitten breasts, Beth put a finger in Sammy's month and got her to suck. "Aha!" she said. "She pulls her tongue back and this makes her bite you. Don't worry -- we'll retrain her," she said. I was wondering how one can train a 1 week old. "Before each feeding, let her suck on your finger for a minute and press her little tongue down. Then let her take the breast, but if she is still biting, stop and relatch her. You have what she wants. Trust me, she'll learn very fast." We practiced with Beth for 30 minutes or so, and I got more comfortable with latching Sammy on correctly. The hard part was getting it right every time.

When we got home, Jason was my coach. He sat next to me for at least 5 feedings constantly bugging me: "Does it hurt?" If I was quiet, her knew it did. "Unlatch her. Do it again." I felt so terrible constantly taking the breast away from my poor little baby. "But she doesn't know she is hurting me. I feel like I am torturing her," I said. "Helen," said my wise husband, "It's just like when she'll go on her first date and forget to call. You'll be worried sick, even though she didn't mean to hurt you. It's not her fault, but we have to teach her how to do it right." Have I told you yet that I married the most amazing man? Well, I did. He made Sammy suck on his finger and keep her tongue down. He held her little hands so that I could see what I was doing during latch on. And he asked me a million times, "How does it feel?" It only took 1 days for me to look back at him with tears of joy rather than pain and confidently say, "It feels good!"

I now look forward to feeding my little hungry hippo. She looks like a Pooh Bear with plump rosy cheeks, and every time her mouth starts making little smacking sounds, I know it's time for a little something.


tammy said...

Boy, can I relate. Thank goodness for lactation consultants. So glad you're working it out.

Also, APNO nipple cream (prescription) is the best thing ever invented.

pyatachok said...

I am glad day by day you are solving your breastfeeding problems. Another week or two and it all will be behind you.