So an amazing thing has come out of our work on The Good Letdown...a path. All three of us have now not only discovered our desire to educate about and normalize nursing, but our unique passion for directly counseling mothers through breastfeeding difficulties and successes. Why? Because it is so extremely meaningful and satisfying, to noodle out a situation, save a woman some heartache, empower her to find a solution.
Let me tell you my first direct counseling experience. My friend Sarah (not her real name) had a long, hard induction that took about three days. Baby boy was born vaginally and she fought around every single corner to ensure that he was. She was a real warrior. Sarah got home on Baby Boy's second day, she nursed and nursed him, his latch seemed good and had been assessed by the hospital lactation consultant. However, for the duration of her pregnancy and her stay in the hospital she had been told over and over that she likely would not make milk or not make enough because, you see, Sarah has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which interferes with the hormones related to reproduction (and thus, milk production, or so the theories say). After a three-day induction and 9 months of being told her body was broken, the heartache that ensued in the following days makes sense.
I talked to Sarah at all hours during the 6 days following her birth. It took her milk SIX DAYS to come in. Baby Boy nursed and nursed, and we talked many times about monitoring his well-being, I made sure she was seeing a lactation consultant, and made myself available to her at all hours. I employed the help of my co-bloggers here and our extended friend network to make sure that she was well supported with solid information and enough shoulders to cry on. Sarah was scared, Baby Boy's diapers were wet, but not very, he was hungry. She stuck it out, and the milk came pouring in on day six.
I cried. It was a nail biter, but we worked together in supporting her, encouraging her to follow her instincts, reassuring her that it was OK to freak out, and assuring her that her milk would come. It was hard, we were all starting to question whether she was going to be in the very small number of women who struggled with milk production due to PCOS...and when she told us her milk was in, that her breasts were full and dripping, that the baby was gulping...I cried. i couldn't help it. Her determination, her willingness to seek support and our ability to provide it saved that nursing relationship.
It was eye opening, and everytime I read about a mother here on The Good Letdown who has struggled and overcome, who gives what she can and supplements the rest, who is looking out for the very best she can do for her baby...I am reminded how important the work of counseling women is in our society where so few women breastfeed. Everytime a reader posts a question and I see our community come out and share love, support, and information, I learn something new. It's wonderful!
I am going to be posting here and there as I learn through the mothers I counsel in my new position with WIC. I hope that we can encourage others to become counselors or leaders in the breastfeeding community...we can normalize nursing one person at a time...educate one and she may educate another.