Hooray for Lactation Consultants & Breastfeeding Friendly Hospital!

Update: 9/1/2011 E & I are about to hit our 19-month milestone of breastfeeding! :) Also today my birth story was posted on Birth Stories On Demand.
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After my “breastfeeding” or shall I say year-long pumping experience with Ronin (see my previous post), I knew nothing was more important to me than making sure that breastfeeding worked the 2nd time around. After getting pregnant with Ellie, I had to make the choice to change OBs so that I could switch hospitals. If you read my previous story about feeding Ronin you know the hospital in which I delivered did not give very good breastfeeding support.

This time I was very fortunate to be able to change doctors (even though I did like my former OB very much) so that I could deliver at Evergreen Hospital, one of the top lactation friendly hospitals in the Seattle area and possibly in the country. Fast forward about 40 weeks…

Off we went to labor & delivery one afternoon 3 days post due date because I thought I had been contracting all day. Of course they stopped upon arrival. Of course! Anyway, good thing we were there because Ellie’s heartrate was extremely high and there were no typical reasons for it. So they watched, we waited, they discussed c-section or induction. I was not on board for c-section but ready to get her out and make sure she was ok. So we decided on slow induction while monitoring her heartrate.

Things began smoothly with a low level of pitocin and after a couple hours of not too painful contractions I moved from 4cm to a whopping 4cm. ;) While I totally admire women who labor naturally and understand the desire, I’ve never been up for it. The OB suggested breaking my water to move things along ( I know, cringe!) but I said yes.That’s when things really got moving! I was checked just prior, yep still at 4cm. So I figured this might be a good time for my epidural. That process began while my contractions became more and more intense, much quicker than anyone was prepared for, especially me AND the anesthesiologist.
Wow! I was in pain and seeing as how I was not ready or prepared for natural labor, I think it hurt even worse than it could have without the proper breathing and changing of positions to help alleviate pain. Some time went by and not much time and one leg started to feel a bit numb but basically the epi was not working.She checked again. Still 4cm. What the!?! Well about 10 minutes later, still no epidural and my body begins to push. Not me, my body. I tell the nurse and reluctantly she checks me again thinking I must be crazy as it’s only been 10 minutes. Well, guess what, I was now 9cm! She scooted off to call the doctor while I yelled to her that I thought I had to push. “Don’t push!” she yelled. “I’m not! It’s just happening!” I said.My darling husband at this point was holding one of my legs, while my mom was in the back corner huffing “The baby’s coming. Get the doctor!” All of a sudden, no nurse or doctor in sight. Just John holding one leg. Out pops Ellie’s head. I promise you, I didn’t push, my body did all the work. And John says, in what I remember as a somewhat calm voice “Um, excuse me. The head is out!”

Nursing Checking Out Baby E

What!?! At this point our nurse flys in as do 10 other nurses all running like chickens because the doctor still isn’t there. Finally after realizing the baby was really really coming, she asked for one push and out popped my sweet baby girl. In the flurry of nurse excitement, she was taken, cord snipped and checked out. My doctor didn’t arrive for another 10 minutes or so, and that was right about the time my epidural also took effect. How nice, I could deliver the placenta pain free. ;)

Ellie was perfect. I was fine. And her stats and scores were great. The lactation consultant came immediately and we started breastfeeding. She seemed to breastfeed like a champ, she was latching with some excellent help from the nurses and lactation people. So we actually left the hospital less than 24 hours later.

At Evergreen, they request you return to the breastfeeding center after 2 days. Does that seem excessive to you? Let me tell you, it isn’t.  We returned gladly. Ellie had nursed some in those 2 days but then became super sleepy and I was having a hard time. Turns out that 2 day return trip was very well worth it. Baby girl was down quite a bit more than 10% of her birth weight. Not good.

Me & Ellie at Evergreen Hospital

They discovered that even when she was awake and seemed to be nursing and making swallowing sounds, she was not sucking correctly so was getting little to no milk. Her tongue pushed to the roof of her mouth thus blocking her swallow.

They suggested a nipple shield to help force her tongue down and retrain her suck. I was pretty paranoid about the shield. It never worked for Ronin. But in this scenario it made sense. In addition they asked me to hand express and finger feed her via syringe after nursing her to ensure she was getting enough breastmilk. I kept a log for 3 days and returned to the breastfeeding center with a brand new nurser. After only 2 days I stopped using the nipple shield. I could tell she was getting it. And the finger feeds slowly decreased that day too. She was doing great, had gained weight and all it took was a few days of extra special support.

I was so grateful. I can tell you I was honestly terrified at first that we’d go the way of the pump again if she couldn’t get the suck. And I felt so overwhelmed by that fear and having to finger feed and chart her feedings, I actually had some feelings of giving up. I really did, even though in my heart I knew how important it was to me.

But boy am I SO glad we stuck with it. It was a lot of work in the beginning. Newborns feed a ton. But co-sleeping helped me get more rest. I could doze off while she fed in the side lie position. A MUST for a mom of an active nurser.

I actually felt less overwhelmed with feedings because I didn’t have to get up to find the bottle, or wash bottle or pump parts. We just layed in bed and did our thing.

For me, breastfeeding in public was fine. I know this can be a challenge or modesty issue for many. I used a “hooter hider” in the beginning. But to tell you the truth, I was so proud that we made breastfeeding work, I enjoyed doing it out and about. It’s a beautiful natural thing. And while I don’t go around blatantly flashing my breasts, modestly breastfeeding my daughter in public has been one of the joys.

Out & About

Once she became more active and started kicking the hooter hider away, I found a few nursing shirts or just figured out ways to do it without fully exposing myself. Then later of course she became the distracted nurser, popping on and off with all of the activity around her. And that’s where my nursing necklace business came to me. It brought together my need for a creative and professional outlet, plus the stage of my baby. My first Mama Necklace (a paisley pull) helped Ellie focus on me and have something interesting to hang on to and keep her attention.

I learned to nurse her incognito in my Pikkolo carrier when she was 3 months old. Which was also a wonderful blessing. Take the kids to the zoo, take Ronin to see all the animals while baby Ellie nurses and sleeps in the carrier. So fantastic! If you’re having a second child, a good supportive sling, wrap or carrier is a MUST.

We’ve enjoyed a long nursing relationship so far. Ellie turned 13 months on March 3, and we’re still going strong. I love that even though she’s always enjoyed her food from 6 months on, she also loves mommy’s milk. She asks for it now with a little tug of my shirt. And if I sat “Do you want some milk?” She gives me a big smile and giggle. If she’s ever hurt or teething, it comforts her. If she gets sick, it not only keeps her hydrated and nourished, it has amazing immunological properties and the act of sucking helps open her sinuses too!

1st Birthday!

Breastfeeding has created a wonderful bond and done so much more. I don’t plan to stop anytime soon, and neither does Ellie. It’s her call.

About Cristi Comes

Mom. Wife. Writer. Advocate for mental health, suicide prevention, self care, self image and style. Technology and social media lover. Board of Directors, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Washington State Chapter. Warrior Mom Editorial Leadership Team Postpartum Progress.

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  1. [...] in a bottle on day one. And guess what, I did all those things with Ellie, I’m happy to say. Part 2 of this story [...]

  2. [...] in a bottle on day one. And guess what, I did all those things with Ellie, I’m happy to say. Part 2 of this story [...]

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