by Allison Walters, Breastfeeding Mama, BSN, RN, CCRN
I am a Registered Nurse who is one semester away from a master’s degree. My resume is lengthy and shows my many certifications, accomplishments and involvement in the nursing profession but I still think that if I could I would add breastfeeding to the top of this list as the biggest accomplishment and hardest thing I have ever succeeding in trying.
It should read: Allison Walters, BSN, RN, CCRN
Breast fed her daughter for 13 months (and counting)
BLS, ACLS and PALS certified
Seriously though, hats off to every mother who has breast fed for any amount of time. Kudos to all of us. And to those who tried to breastfeed and were not able to for one reason or another, I get it, I sympathize with you. It can be HARD. It is only by luck and a lot of support that we were able to make it to this point. This is the story of our breastfeeding journey.
Saylor was born June 23, 2017 a week early via cesarean section weighing a healthy 8lbs 3 oz (3.705 kg). I had been induced due to “premature rupture of membranes”, it was more like a small trickle, so when the induction attempts failed and after 36 hours the risk of infection to me and the baby was too high to keep waiting. This was obviously not what I had imagined for my labor and birth of our first child. We started out parenthood as many do, exhausted and frustrated but blissfully optimistic.
I, being a medical professional with an understanding of the importance of breast feeding as a contributing factor to the health of both mother and baby, planned to try to breastfeed my newborn. While in the hospital I requested to meet with the lactation consultant on two different occasions and overall was told that Saylor and I were doing well with breastfeeding but that she had a shallow latch, something that could be remedied over time by correcting her form and practicing. When we were discharged home 3 days later Saylor weighed 7lbs 8oz.
The routine that we had of nurse then pump and feed every 3 hours took at least an hour every time. This was brutal and took a toll on me as a new sleep deprived mother recovering from a cesarean section and my husband who was doing all that he could to support and assist me and Saylor. He was home for only 2 weeks after her birth and after that I was on my own with the baby and all of the bottles and pumping. But thankfully, Saylor was gaining weight and thriving because of all of this hard work that was pushing me and my husband to the breaking point.My saving grace (other than SO MUCH WATER and lactation energy bites) was the breastfeeding support group offered for free through the hospital. I could go at least once a week and weigh her and talk to other moms. This helped because I could know that she was still gaining weight and I was able to discuss my concerns with other moms and a lactation nurse. It also got us out of the house and gave me an excuse to shower and look presentable. It was at one of these meetings that I was able to express my concerns about Saylor’s continued poor latch and my pain with every feeding. I had done some research and felt that Saylor may have a lip or tongue tie, and some moms at the group who had experienced this with their babies agreed.
I expressed my concerns with her pediatrician and got a consult with the plastic surgery department within my insurance network. This appointment was scheduled about 2 weeks away, but it seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel. Finally Saylor and I would be getting some help with our daily struggle. Unfortunately, this provider was not inclined to correct her lip tie in the office and he did not feel that her posterior tongue tie being released would help us. As he put it “there is no evidence to support this procedure being helpful for an infant”. I cried as soon as he left the room. I thought that if he needed evidence, he could speak with any number of women from the breastfeeding support group or just look at the tearful mother standing in his office asking for help. He placed a referral for another physician who could possibly help her in an in-patient setting, if he deemed it appropriate.
Another wait. I was heartbroken and frustrated. We could not wait again. I had gotten a card from one of the other mothers at the breastfeeding support group for another plastic surgeon in my area. He came highly recommended and I did check to see if their office and accepted my insurance. I called as soon as we left the first appointment where we had made no progress and made an appointment to see the second surgeon later that week.
On that Friday, Saylor had a slight posterior tongue tie and an upper lip tie. I was worried about how this would feel for her, but they used some local numbing agent and she honestly got more upset at her vaccinations than this procedure. The recovery from the procedure was a little rough, she was somewhat uncomfortable but a frozen pacifier helped and within 2 days she was healing nicely. Early the next week she was refusing the pumped bottles after breast feeding because she was full. By the next lactation support group meeting she had gained a significant amount and continued to do so in the following weeks. She is now above the 50% for weight at every visit. She is thriving because she is able to get the milk that she needs from me.
Beyond the health benefits for her, there are other benefits to breastfeeding that we have experienced. Because of these things I do not regret the decision I made early on to have her ties corrected. I was able to bond with her, something that I was having trouble with after the cesarean section and the pumping routine. I remember one occasion when she was about 9 months old that I was feeding her in the rocker in her room. We had a quiet conversation just between us and I told her that I was so glad that we were able to do this and she smiled appreciatively and in agreement. This is the one reason that it was all worth it.