Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tutor the Teacher

Part of my job as a nurse involves being a lactation consultant and teaching the breastfeeding class at our hospital. Teaching this class is a challenge in that I can educate people about breastfeeding, but there is really nothing I can do to teach them "how" to do it. Also there is a fine line between presenting breastfeeding realistically and not scaring these soon to be moms.

This is a three hour class with a lot of information. I try my best to make it a discussion type atmosphere so that people feel free to speak up with questions they may have. I'm always looking for ways to improve the material presented as well as meet the needs of the students.

Tell me: What do you wish you would have known about breastfeeding before you had your baby? Looking back what misconceptions did you have about breastfeeding? Did you take a class? If so, what was the most useful thing you learned there? If not, what resources helped you through the process of breastfeeding?

20 comments:

Sniz said...

Interesting, Monica. Do you have consultations with every new mother at the hospital that breast feeds? I remember one coming in with William, but not the girls. But all three of them just nursed naturally and easily, so I didn't really have any questions.

Catherine said...

I took a class. There was some good information about the mechanics involved, but holding a plastic doll to practice is NOTHING like holding a real baby so I still felt totally unprepared. Then I had to use one of those plastic shield things at first to get Hannah to latch on, and the lactation people at the hospital kept trying to confiscate it and said if I did that she would never nurse and it was just like using a bottle etc. I felt really bad about it, but my mom said the child has to eat so do what you have to do. H did stop the shield after a few weeks and nursed 15 months, so I guess it was ok.

I think you probably have MUCH better classes and better bedside manner than the lactation people I interacted with!

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

I wish someone had told me to take some tylenol 20 min before a feeding to help with the pain. I think I've heard that fair-skinned people have more pain, and mine was HORRIBLE with Cassie. Literally crying EVERY single feeding for six weeks. The others weren't as bad.

I wish someone had told me that yes, some babies need to nurse for 20 minutes, but that some (like cass!) are FAST and if you try to make them eat for 20 minutes, they are just going to throw up all the extra. Every time. :)

JenniferLayne said...

I took a class, but, to be honest, I can't remember anything from the class (sorry!!!). The thing I most benefited from was a sweet nurse with Isaac (the 1st baby) who kept telling me to relax. She even brought me French Silk pie and wouldn't let me try again until I'd had the pie!! :) The other nurses wanted to start him on formula, but she was adamant that I just needed to relax--she kept telling me every baby is different, I'm his mama, I'll figure it out. I finally did, and it seemed he never came unlatched again for 13 or 14 months!!!! :) I can still hear that sweet nurse encouraging me--I wish all of them had said the same things to me.

Jennifer

Michelle said...

I know with some babies, nursing can be very difficult. If you have a mom who REALLY desires to nurse, then I always encourage them to keep going for at least 3-4 weeks before they change their mind. Sometime that second week can be difficult. Also, if your milk comes in so much that your 'jugs' are extended beyond comfort,it helps to manually or with a breast machine, pump out some of that milk before attempting to let your baby latch on. Otherwise, the milk is pouring out all over the baby, and the baby's cheek and mouth are slipping all over your breast...the baby gets overly upset because he's hungry but he can't latch on for anything...oh my, all this nursing talk is taking back to days gone by.

I think it's wonderful you have the opportunity to do what you do, Monica!

jennie said...

One thing that Carla told us was to burp the newborn to get all of the air bubbles out of their tummy before feeding. Newborns tend to swallow air and by burping them it gives more room for food and then the gas does not travel to the intestines.

I also give the kids a bottle of breast milk about once a week starting when they are about 2-3 weeks old. This gives me some freedom to be able to not be home for one feeding and if anything ever happened to me the baby would already know how to take a bottle.

I would have loved some extra time when I was learning to nurse the boys. I wish someone had told me about the special twins nursing pillow.

Saralyn said...

I was shown a movie (who can get the idea from a movie?) at the hospital and had a brief talk with a nurse.

I wish they'd better explained that it shouldn't be wickedly painful. My first son wasn't holding his tongue right and I was in agony. I finally went to talk to the consultants when he was about 2 weeks old and I was a bloody mess. They were very patient and gently insisted that I come to their office at least once a day to feed him until we got it right. Of course by then I'd already had mastitis and ended up with an abscess. I had to have surgery when he was 2 months old.

The consultants were great through the surgery process, even convincing my surgeon to operate on a lactating woman, which he had never done before. I had milk coming out of my incision and my nipple and it was terrible, but worth it! I was able to nurse him for 13 months and my other kids just as long with no problems at all.

Milehimama said...

I never took a class, but with ALL 7 babies a lactation consultant visited in the hospital room. By the time I got to #6 and #7, they pretty much just checked me off their list and left LOL!

I wish someone had told me that sometimes, it DOES hurt and nipples will crack and bleed, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you are doing things wrong. That if you can just push through to day 8 or 9, it will be better.

Also, when I had to get a job and pump, I wish someone had told me that it takes a little while for your breasts to get used to the pump! I was in agony for a couple of days because my milk wouldn't let down for the machine - which could have been avoided had I practiced a bit at home with Baby handy.

And, oh yeah, tell the moms how to handle biting even if the baby doesn't have teeth yet! LOL! (I find pushing the baby into the breast forces those clenched gums to relax, but I'm not sure if there is an "official method".)

eally said...

I wish I'd been told how painful it was the first 2 weeks BUT if I could just get past the first 2 weeks then it was fine and it was a GREAT bonding time. I was only able to nurse my 1st child for a month - I got very sick and was hospitalized for 2 weeks so that was the end of nursing. My 2nd pregnancy resulted in twins and although I tried nursing them for 2 weeks it was just too difficult and I gave up. My 3rd pregnancy I was determined to do it and I nursed for 9 months...but I remember that first 2 weeks was awful!! When my twin daughters had children I prepared them for that and they both nursed all their children. One of them is still nursing her 16-mo-old (she wishes she wasn't! LOL)

Shannon B. said...

I know just how you feel! I used to teach the breastfeeding classes when I worked for WIC. It was a challenge teaching it when I had never done it! Then once I got started breastfeeding with Hannah, I seemed to experience all the problems the WIC moms were having. It's so different when it actually happens to you, no matter how much you have learned or taught. I will try to think back to my days of working at wic and try to remember some of the techniques we used.

duckygirl said...

Getting the hang of nursing with my first was horrible! I ended up cracked/bleeding and very engorged. As a new mom I used those pads to help with leakage and I think the best advice anyone gave me was to AIR DRY. Sounds weird but using the pads was keeping me moist and not allowing me to heal making things worse. So if I could give advice to anyone it would just be, "nursing may hurt and if you are sore, air out and your body will recover faster :) I've nursed 5 others since and never had the same problem!

mom24 said...

I wish that someone had told me it would be hard - I thought it would be naturally easy and struggled for 4 weeks with the 1st! Also would have liked to know that it gets easier (and the pain lets up) after a couple of weeks. I think knowing that would keep some women from giving up too easily.
Also, encourage new moms to be determined in their plan and not be bullied by nurses or doctors (no offense nurses or doctors out there - it's just that the medical profession oftentimes misses the importance of nursing and can be discouraging to a new mom at this critical time).
I am so thankful for my lactation consultants - they gave me confidence to continue on!
Andrea

SK and Family said...

I wish that the first person who showed me how to nurse had really stressed to me that the baby should have the entire nipple in his mouth (and, that I would not be suffocating him, LOL!).

I also wish that I had known about Lansinoh while I was pregnant that first time...and about Lansinoh combined with breast shells (what a huge difference in pain level the first month!).
:)Kat

SK and Family said...

I wanted to add that the *best* advice I received was 1)how to nurse in the football hold (perfect latch-on every time!) and 2)to nurse on demand for the first two months--when the baby cries, I always offer the breast first! This establishes the milk supply and the mommy will NOT dry up in future months.
:)Kat

Anonymous said...

I have three children and when expecting my first I was sure I would BF for at least the first year, so I read everything I could and asked lots of questions. I saw a lot of info about "keeping up your milk supply" and the general feeling seemed to be that it was very easy to lose it, or to not have enough milk or at least to feel like you didn't have enough milk. I was totally confused and blown away when it became apparent that I had a huge surplus of milk, not just at first but month after month. The fact was that I had too much milk and it was causing problems. Baby would choke because the flow was so fast. My clothes were soaked all the time, I was constantly on the hunt for more absorbent pads but none were enough. I had to scour the internet to find advice for this problem, and most of the advice I found was "Keep nursing a LOT and frequently" But the more I nursed, the more milk I made and engorgement was a constant problem. Common sense told me to nurse LESS to allow my body to stop producing so much, but nursing less seemed to be taboo in the bfeeding world. I did finally find some advice about nursing only on one side (alternating) to help solve this. When I started using my own common sense, things finally evened out and I was able to nurse comfortably. I never lost my milk. I wish there had been advice for this type of problem when I needed it.

Sarah said...

I didn't take a class, but it was discussed in the Bradley natural child birth classes that I took. My kids were (are) great nursers. I had plenty of milk and no latching issues, so it was easy for me.

One thing that I would have appreciated was more info on breast infections and preventing them. Apparently, I am very prone to them. The first one I got was so severe that if I had been less commited to nursing, I would have quit right then.

mindi said...

I had severe pain in the beginning with all three - that lead to cracking and bleeding. I ended up weaning Hunter at 6 weeks because it just hurt too much. Gwen kept on and she nursed for 19 months. What I wish someone would have told me, what I learned at 1 week with Lex, was to not center the latch, but allow more tissue on the bottom. Between the powerful jaw action and your sensitive nipple. After that the pain went away!!

Tiffany said...

Monica,
Thanks so very much for your comment on my blog. It is very comforting to me to know that someone you know has gone through what I'm going through AND had a positive outcome! Really, that made my day.
As far as breastfeeding goes, I wish I had known that babies do often nurse 'round the clock and do not have two-three hour breaks in between like most of the books say. My first newborn son wanted to nurse constantly (of course this was natures way of getting my milk to come in) but I kept holding him off because I thought he surely wasn't supposed to nurse so often. He ended up getting jaundice pretty bad.....
Also, for those babies who do end up with jaundice, a little bit of formula will help get that out of their system. I found this out with my second son (wish I had known it with my first!)I fed a small amount to him through a syringe for a few days.
Anyway, you probably already teach all of this, but these are things I wish I had known.

Tara said...

Breastfeeding is very natural, but it doesn't come naturally.

Stick with it for six weeks. By then the two of you will likely be in a good groove and it will be easier.

Breastfeeding does hurt at first. That area of your body isn't used to being pulled through a wringer every two hours and needs to get used to it! It doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. Give it at least 6 weeks.

Don't be surprised if your baby seems to want to eat all the time. Breastmilk is digested faster than formula, so they NEED to eat more often.

If you run into trouble at all, call your ob nurse at the hospital. They're up anyway and would be happy to talk to you and help you through it.

These are some of the main points I tell nursing mommies. No, nothing official. Just over 4 years experience as a nursing mommy! In my group of friends not only do I have the most kids I also have the oldest ones so people tend to ask me mommy questions quite often!

chickadee said...

they told me that it wouldn't hurt if i was doing it right. i constantly doubted that it was right because it hurt so bad. i wish they had told me it was going to hurt no matter what.