It's Okay To Ask For Help!
February 21, 2018 began a brand new breastfeeding journey for me - my son was born at 0109 and latched within an hour of birth. I thought we were golden!
When I became a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) in October 2016, my daughter was just over a year and still nursing. We were pretty established on our journey so I didn’t feel I could really put my new CLC knowledge to use personally. Of course, I helped other new mommas within Mom2Mom KMC, but I so badly wanted to see how things would go breastfeeding a new baby now that I had all this information in my head.
When I became pregnant in May 2017, I was super EXCITED! Yes, I was having a baby and I was excited about that BUT I really just wanted to breastfeed again. It felt like a long pregnancy -- I saw so many new mommas and veteran mommas with their nurslings and I wanted to be back in that spot again…I didn't think my son would ever join the world!
Well of course it did end with a cute little nursling ready to go...or so I thought.
Not much about my labor and delivery was how I planned, so I'm not sure why I thought nursing would go the way I had it planned out in my head. My water broke on the 20th at 8 AM, I went 12 hours without a single contraction, before having to be induced. I wanted to labor at home - that didn't happen. I wanted my Doula to be in the delivery to help me labor ...my son had other plans and pretty much flew out before my husband could send her a message. Active labor was in full swing after an hour of pitocin, my sweet nurse checked me and I was 5 cm dilated. Honestly, I feel like when she checked me she encouraged things along -- I instantly felt this strong feeling and urge to push. She checked me again within minutes and said we were ready to go. Very soon after, my son was cuddling up into my arms and I was completely in love.
I had seen the breastcrawl video, and so badly wanted my little guy to do the same. He lay on my chest and I waited, but the nurses were getting a bit antsy and it was closing in on an hour so after their second offer to help me latch baby, I said I'd put him to the breast.
My new nursling took to the breast and wanted to be there often BUT he just wasn’t nursing well. The first nursing session went well enough and he knocked out soon after. But once we got to the Mother & Baby Unit it really wasn't a fantastic time. I was in pain! I could see that he’d nibble his way onto my nipple and stay there. He wouldn’t open wide or bring his head far back to get a good latch. My first thought was “I’m a CLC, I should be able to fix this. How do I fix this?” I tried a few different positions. He did better but I was still hurting. I could feel he wasn’t getting a good seal but in that moment I couldn't figure out how to fix it. We were both getting frustrated while I tried to scramble through my knowledge under the haze of exhaustion from labor, delivery, and new motherhood.
Two of my closest friends reached out once I told them my little man had arrived and we were excitedly texting each other. These two ladies are also lactation professionals and nursing mothers so one of the first questions was “How’s breastfeeding going?” My immediate response was “Great! He’s nursing like a champ.” But he wasn't. I was a bit embarrassed to say he was hurting me and I didn’t know how to fix it. I should’ve known how to make it better, right?!
After my first day of discomfort, I finally got a little nap in, woke a bit refreshed and decided I can't let my pride get the better of me. Yes, I am knowledgeable. Even if I wasn't a CLC, I had nursed successfully before -- I knew what a good latch felt like. This wasn't it. I knew I couldn't rightfully tell other new mommas to reach out without hesitation if I couldn't do it myself.
By chance, another friend and lactation professional, sent me a message about setting up a meeting. Amy Barron Smolinski didn't know I had just given birth, but I immediately thought this was the perfect opportunity to ask for help. I knew I could ask my friends but I needed "eyes on" and they had little nurslings to tend to (plus I was still a bit embarrassed to admit I needed help). So I told Amy I'd had my little guy but that he was not breastfeeding very well. There was no judgment in her response. Deep down I knew there wouldn't be, but again...pride. Without hesitation she came to see me bright and early the next morning. She watched us nurse, gave suggestions, made some adjustments and I felt an instant sense of relief. There wasn't this 100% pain relief, I was tender and sore, but I felt a bit more confident about what I could do. She completely understood that in that moment, I was a new mother, exhausted and doing my best.
After she left, I felt ten times better. I didn't feel so frazzled or inadequate. I could actually see my baby nursing successfully at the breast. We're 6 months strong right now, but it's come with it's own set of ups and downs. That's a story for another day. But what I do know is asking for help is what I needed to do and I don't regret it at all. It guided us and helped to set us on the right breastfeeding path.
I am no longer shy about asking for help -- my friends can attest to that! Once I gave myself permission to ask for help and know it's okay to do so, I knew it was the best thing.
Mommas, if you need help - ask for help. Just because you may be a lactation professional, medical professional, veteran mother who's nursed multiple babies, etc; it doesn't make you invincible or all knowing. Sometimes we need to take a step back, let someone else be our eyes for a few minutes and take breath.
It's okay to ask for help. Give yourself permission to ask for help. Mom2Mom prides itself in providing peer support and assistance provided by Peer Mentors and lactation professionals -- take advantage of that. As a mother and CLC I want to help others so their breastfeeding journey is everything they dreamed of. Let us help you.
Is your breastfeeding journey everything you thought it would be? Do you need help? Have you asked for help? If so, how did it go and how do you feel about your experience? I want to hear from you.