We had the lactation consultant to visit today. It’s left me with mixed feelings and complete emotional exhaustion. It’s been so long since anybody besides Katy watched me try and latch George, and I’d forgotten quite how stressful it is. Looking at it objectively though, it was a positive experience.
When the lactation consultant (Jill) arrived, George had just gone down for a nap. We had a good chat about the birth and our breastfeeding experience so far. About 45 minutes later she advised that we get George up from his nap, as it would be better for her to observe him when he was a bit sleepy. We got him up (he was in a really deep sleep so he was a bit dazed and cranky!) and I laid him on my chest so she could observe what he did. Apparently all babies should display rooting reflexes in this position. He kept working his way backwards until he was almost laying on my legs! He got quite grumpy lying on my tummy and didn’t try to latch at all. I picked him up and settled him, and Jill suggested that as he settles well being bounced, that I cradle him whilst on my birthing ball. I did this and it worked wonders! I tend to get a really stiff and sore back when I’m holding him so sitting on my ball really eased this, I’m going to be doing it a lot more often! Jill suggested using George’s bottle teat and holding it against my nipple, and hopefully he would start sucking. He did, but he got frustrated as no milk was coming out. We put a bit of expressed milk in the teat, but by then he was too frustrated. Jill thinks that if we had put the milk in the teat at the beginning if the exercise it would have probably worked. She then suggested that I try feeding him laying down, which is usually the position I have the most success in. We tried it, but he was very tired still and quite hungry, so he wasn’t really entertaining it. Probably not the best mood for the visit as he’d decided to have a really long deep nap, but we were able to get lots of great advice. She said I had a really good milk supply and was pleased about how much milk just leaked out when I was trying to latch him! She watched me pump too and was impressed by how easily the milk came out, and she took pictures of the hair bands I was using to make a hands-free device! She thinks he will latch eventually but it will be a slow process because of what happened to him. So our plan going forward is this:
Spend as much time as possible close to George, skin to skin if possible. Intimacy is key!
Give George the opportunity to latch at least twice a day, once with the bottle teat and once without. The suction on the bottle teat will be enough to draw milk out of the breast. Once George has got the hang of using the bottle teat, try a nipple shield.
Try feeding him lying down first and once he is latched, move slowly to get comfortable.
Jill also said that George has a high palate, possibly exacerbated by bottles and dummies, and looks as if he has tongue tie (he’s been checked twice for tongue tie!), so she has recommended that he be referred to a tongue tie specialist. She suggested that we try and encourage him to stick his tongue out (using imitation) which should help, as he does not seem to be able to stick his tongue out with his mouth open, which means his sucking reflex is not being activated. This explains why he will take the nipple in his mouth but doesn’t suck.
Although I feel really positive about the advice we’ve been given, it’s left me feeling a bit desperate. I guess I thought that once she saw him she would say “oh, this is why… Do this!” And it would work, and there would just be this magic answer. I should know better, life doesn’t work like that! I’m wondering if it will ever work – I can’t even begin to entertain the thought that it might not. The thought of never sharing this intimate relationship with my son just breaks my heart. I’m totally willing to put in the hard work, but sometimes it just feels like a losing battle. I feel so upset and angry about the amount of babies who can breastfeed, even with issues, and mine just won’t. It makes me feel like I’ve completely failed in parenting George. I just don’t understand why we were dealt this hand. No one understands this until they’ve been through it.