Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Funny Lactation Consultant story (of which I have oh so many)

Background: I wasn't able to breastfeed my first child, Darth A., for a variety of reasons, one of which was that he wouldn't latch right (at least I thought he wasn't latching right). I have very flat nipples, you see. Nothing to latch onto very easily.

-->Myth #1: Many LCs will tell you that if your baby's latch hurts, then the baby is latched wrong. This is a LIE. Many women find breastfeeding painful in the beginning. Pain is not a good way to tell if the baby is latched on the breast wrong, and it is also not a reason to peel the baby off the breast and try again. Hell, even pumping can hurt your nipples in the beginning, and last time I checked, a pump doesn't latch. <--

-->Myth #2: I was told, with Darth A., that the way to get a baby to latch is to wait until the baby's mouth gets very wide, and then quickly pull the baby to the nipple. THIS DOES NOT WORK WITH FLAT NIPPLES. All you are doing is pushing the baby's face into a mound of breast flesh. Not fun. One way to get a baby to latch with flat nipples is to hold your nipple in your fingers, and run it down your baby's skin from below is nose to his upper lip. He will most likely tilt his head up. Then, run the nipple from the upper lip into the mouth, so that the baby feels it on the top of the mouth first. Hopefully, the baby will close his mouth at that point, and start sucking. I don't know if I've made this clear or not. <--

I didn't even know about the option to pump. So I didn't. Darth A. got formula fed. (And oh, how I wish I could convey to you all the guilt, anguish, and grief that one small sentence brings with it.) (DON'T FEEL GUILTY DON'T FEEL GUILTY)

When I had Darth B., I did a lot more personal research on breastfeeding success stories, trying to find out from my fellow moms what they did that worked. I armed myself with a breastpump and lots of advice. Still, from the hour he was born, we had problems.
I was able to breastfeed for a while, using a nipple shield. But eventually I realized that breastfeeding was not going to work with this kid, either. So I pumped for as long as I could, then formula fed.

Fast forward many years. I'm living in a different city now, and pregnant with Darth D. I know that given my history, if I am to have any success in breastfeeding, I may need a nipple shield. So I decide that the easiest thing to do would be to run down to my hospital's lactation services, and buy a couple of shields there.

I go to the desk and ask for a nipple shield.

"Oh, I can't just sell those to you," the woman says. "You have to speak to a lactation consultant first. She has to authorize me to sell you them."
"Okay," I say. "Can I speak to a consultant now?"
"No," she replies. "You have to make an appointment."
"Look," I say as patiently as possible, "I drove down here to buy a shield. I wasn't able to breastfeed my first child at all, and I only managed for as long as I did with my second child because I used a shield. This is my third kid, and I know what I am talking about. So can you please sell me a shield?"
"No," she shakes her head. "Sorry, but you have to talk to the lactation consultant first."
(I am going to smack her seriously)
"Look, I am not coming back here twice to buy a shield."
(I Decide to get nasty)
"Well, I guess you don't want me to breastfeed. Okay, I get it. Goodbye." I start walking out.
"Wait!" She says. She looks around, making sure no one else is in earshot. "If you ask to speak to a lactation consultant after you deliver, she can authorize a nipple shield then."
"But, don't the consultants talk to the new moms anyway?" I ask.
"No," she answers. "They won't come up to talk to you unless you specifically ask."
(Jesus, how many mothers don't know to ask?)
I point to the sign on the wall that publicizes their hours of operation.
"Are you guys open on the weekends?"
"No, only weekdays."
"So, if I go into labor on a weekend, I can't get my nipple shield. That's what you're telling me?"
The woman looks around, leans over the desk, and whispers,
"If you ask your maternity nurse for a nipple shield, she will probably give you one."
(At this point, for some inexplicable reason, I suddenly got a vision of the Golum in my head, yelling "THE PRECIOUS! MUST PROTECT THE PRECIOUS!)
I roll my eyes, simply say, "um, thanks a lot," and leave.
The next day, I buy five nipple shields.
At Target.


Blogger Cricket said...

I have severely flattened nipples, the worst they'd seen. Pumping exclusively for 7 months certainly brought them out and I am extra angry at secondary infertility for not allowing me to use the improved model.

Did you read in LLL's The Womanly Art? They devote only a portion of a single page to the subject of inverted/flattened nipples. And the reason they give? There's obviously not enough breast play with hubs at home. I went screaming into the night on that. Great support for a significant minority of the female population. Guess they figure most in this situation give up before getting to the point of consulting a book.

Oh, I have more, but I'll stop now.

3:26 PM  
Blogger liz said...

Banging head on desk.

7:51 PM  
Blogger ceece said...

saaaaah-weet. Target saves the day again!

11:35 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

You are so right about myth #1. Why must we set women up for failure!? I mean come on...tell me if it hurts its wrong and its gonna hurt so I must be doing something wrong. Just so stupid! This has been a huge pet peeve of mine. I want to tell the women that perpetuate this lie that if thier nipple/areola was pulled on over and over again, 10 minutes or more at a time, 9-10 times a day, thier boobs would hurt too! I wonder how many women give up on BFing b/c they beleive they are jsut not doing it right. UGH!! On a better note I had a male pediatrician tell me that it was going to hurt regardless if the latch was right or not. Go figure!

11:39 AM  
Blogger Aliza said...

I wanted to thank you for your support on babyfruit. And on the subject of nipple shields, I was given one on Day 2 at the hospital after givimg birth. It worked somewhat and helped to draw out my flatties, but if it slipped while baby sucked, it would slice my nipple and bleed. On Day 1, a nurse made swollen pulp out of my areola by mashing it over and over again between her fingers and shoving the mangled, swollen flesh into baby's mouth. My right breast has never been the same and still has squishy edema on the lower part of the areola from the damage. This was the start of my bfeeding nightmares.

2:12 PM  
Blogger pumpingmom said...

Jesus Christ, Aliza. Oh Jesus.

All I can do is tell you I empathize, and that you are a very good mom.

And that that nurse was a bitch.

2:26 PM  
Blogger taimom said...

Who knew there'd be a support-type blog for flat-nippled ladies! Thank you!!

BTW, after spending several sessions with an LC trying to get my newborn to latch on to no avail (she comforted me with, "Don't worry, eventually your breastfeeding time will become a harmonious dance between baby and breast!"), it was a nurse who took one look at me and said, "Girl, you've got flat nipples! That baby can't just latch on like it's nothing!"

This nurse sent me home with a bag of nipple shields which I used for, FIVE months (well, we had to keep replacing them at Target because they disappear like dropped contacts). When I finally felt I had to switch to formula, I felt like such a failure because I hadn't made it to six months, which I had been my initial goal.

Only after a lot of looking on the web for anything having to do with flat nipple drama did I realize that five months with nipples like these is not too bad. (Add to that that I seem to be physiologically unable to pump--with both Medela and Avent pumps I could only get 2-3 ounces in 30 min.).

Just recently I found a product from Avent, the "Niplette" that promises to PERMANENTLY draw out your nipples making you able to breast feed shield-free. IT seems to be used much more in Europe, in fact, the LC I called to try to order one had never heard of it!

I am now the owner of a Niplette, which just cracks my husband up, but, I have to warn, it requires that you wear these suction device for several hours a day, which I have not been able to accomplish as yet.

Anyway, thank you so much for what you're doing with this site.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

That was me. I was constantly told by nurses & LC's that if it hurt, then the latch wasn't right. Pull the baby off...pry the baby off...put the baby back on. Day two and my nipples were a bloody mess not because of a poor latch, but because they kept telling me if it hurt to take her off and reposition her. No wonder my supply took forever to build up and her weight dropped. I finally figured it out with pumping. It hurt for a few minutes and then everything was fine.

I also had an LC try to tell me that I could have retained placenta and/or pituitary tumor and that could be the reason for low supply. Nice thing to scare a new mom with huh?

7:35 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I have (had) flat nipples and before I left the hospital with my first baby, an LC gave me a nipple shield with a warning to only use it to get my daughter latched on, then to wean her off of it over time because it would affect my supply, etc. I cried at home (a lot) because I couldn't wean her off it and I thought I was going to starve her because my supply would dwindle, etc. I didn't see another LC. I lied to my ped about using the shield. I used the shield every time she nursed for ... 2.5 years. Yes, 2.5 years, using a shield. I kept it in my pocket. I always felt like somewhat of a failure, though, for not being able to nurse without a shield, and told no one except my husband. When #2 was born, I went to an LC at 5 days PP and she helped me get him latched properly. He also nursed for 2.5 years and never had to use the shield. I guess those years of nursing with the shield brought out my flat nipples ... or something. Good luck! And try ordering the shields online.

1:21 PM  
Blogger MiamiMommy said...

I have flat nipples as well, and I wore nipple shields in my bra in between nursings. The helped draw my nipples out, and it did make latching on easier.

6:35 PM  
Blogger seanandcarina said...

My nipples got so sore around day three that m/wife advised a nipple shield. Next day went to store and bought one, went home used it, thanked the heavens as it was such a relief and had another visit that afternoon by a different m/wife who told me that they are bad, will slow down milk production, and baby will get confused etc etc... I was mortified!! I had finally found a device that made feeding easy and enjoyable and this m/wife is telling me in no uncertain terms that they are bad. Surely if it helps and makes it enjoyable why not?? Seriously do you want me to b/feed or not? There is so much pressure out there for new mothers to b/feed and when you decide to give it a go it's constant criticism and a negative attitude. The lady who was opposite me in the hospital ward told the m/wife immediately that she was bottle feeding and they said ok, told her about all the pro's and con's and then just let her get on with it. I on the other hand had to show them my boys nappies and they ALL had to come and watch whilst I fed just to see if I was doing it right and critisize me. I am now trying to find out why nipple shields can't be used regularly ande haven't had any joy so far. Carina UK XX

2:25 AM  

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