Breastfeeding was never something I thought I would "try". Rather, it was always something I felt I HAD to do...and I really wanted to! I grew up in a family that was very supportive of breastfeeding and even practiced extended breastfeeding, so this was always very normal to me. I then became a neonatal nurse and worked alongside my mom who became a lactation consultant. When I had my first son, I felt like I knew so much about breastfeeding from everything I had learned from my family and in my career, but I still struggled. He was not great at latching and we had a hard time with bruised, cracked, bleeding nipples and excruciating pain. I had so much one-on-one help from lactation consultants (my mom and my coworkers) and with lots of help and persistence we eventually improved and went on to enjoy an amazing 20-month-long breastfeeding journey.
In that time, I became a lactation consultant myself. About a month ago, we welcomed our second son, 5 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia. I was so worried about his risk for low blood sugar as a preemie so I started hand expressing right away. Initially, I wasn't able to get even a drop! I had my GoLacta supplements with me in the hospital to take in addition to frequent stimulation through nursing, pumping, and hand expressing. Thankfully, his blood sugars stayed stable and he was able to stay exclusively breastfeeding (and syringe feeding too!) Although this time around I had even more experience and expertise, we still had struggles!
My son had jaundice and was slow to gain weight. He was too weak to transfer well at the breast. We had a few busy weeks of "the plan" : breastfeeding, pumping, and supplementing with expressed milk. We needed lots and lots of weighted feeds to ensure he was improving as we weaned his supplement. I'm so thankful my supply was adequate and I was able to maintain it while working to improve his transfer at the breast. I've even had enough to provide my older son with a few ounces per day to help keep him healthy in this pandemic! I think my story goes to show how instrumental a good support system is in breastfeeding success. I hope to offer that same support to moms going forward in my work and passion! It truly takes a village.