The visit with the lactation consultant


Written on Monday, July 24, 2006 by Jessica

For starters, Seth was on his best behavior. Rather than ravenously attempting to eat his hand (he always attempts to latch onto his hand even as I offer a milk-laden breast in vain), he merely nibbled at his hand, as if to say, "Mother, I'm peckish. If you have a moment, please feed me." Plus, he latched on beautifully. Why can't I get him to do that at home? What's more, he opened his mouth wide, never once lunging at me when I didn't put him to breast immediately. (Seriously, the kid has a strong neck.)

I confessed my sins -- using a pacifier and bottle-feeding with the Haberman nipple -- to the lactation consultant, Judy. She didn't even chastise me. Probably because I looked so ashamed. Her evaluation? Says the latch looks very good from the outside, which probably means he's not suckling correctly. This could be due to nipple confusion or it could be the way he's always suckled. There are ways to train/retrain an infant to suckle correctly, but she said that was beyond her expertise. As the saying goes, "I made my bed. Now I must lie in it." (She didn't say that, but that's my interpretation.

She said my nipples' turing white were caused by Reynaud Phenomenon.

Thanks to S. and the website she referred me to (, I know that I don't suffer from Reynaud's. I do experience nipple blanching -- which can be caused by Reynaud's -- but in my case, I'm actually experiencing compression blanching. I frequently have a compression stripe, which I found I can minimize by trying harder for a good latch.

Judy pointed out that even though we started out with what looked like a textbook latch each time, Seth tended to reposition himself, which was causing more pain. This made sense. Even when I start out with a relatively pain-free latch, I usually end up wincing in pain by the end of the session. (Plus, the little vampire tends to suck harder at the end when the milk doesn't come as fast.)

We also got creative by trying out a nipple shield. Nipple shields are usually intended for use when the baby has latching and feeding problems (such as with preemies), but it seemed to help alleviate the pain a little.

Judy's overall advice?

1. Make sure he opens wide so I can get a good latch. If he repositions later in the feeding, be sure to break the latch and start again. (This is probably my worst problem. As the pain increases throughout the feeding, I tend to grin and bear it, thinking, "It's almost over. It's almost over."

2. If desired, use the nipple shield when nipples become really sore.

3. When soreness becomes intolerable, pump instead of nursing.

I know one thing fore sure. If I ever have another kid, s/he's not getting a pacifier or a bottle (not even a Haberman) until I'm sure nursing is going well. By that time, s/he probably won't even accept a bottle or a pacifier!

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  1. Shana |

    How are the LC's suggestions working? I'm glad you're making some headway on figuring this out. Too bad she can't give you some assistance on "retraining an infant to suckle correctly". I mean, isn't that what you hire the LC FOR????

  2. Valerie |

    Yay for less pain! Keep up the great job! It can be a PITA to breastfeed some days, but it is worth it!!!!!

  3. Jessica |

    Well, S., I guess it's true that you get what you pay for. In this case, the LC works for the hospital and provides her services to me for free. There's an LC on staff at the pediatrician's office. I'm thinking of making an appointment with her.

    I'm still pretty sore. Relatching rarely seems to work. It's either quite comfortable from the beginning or it hurts like crazy no matter how many times I relatch. The good news is that my technique has improved, so I'm more likely to get a good latch on the first try.

    All in all, I'm feeling much less sorry for myself, so that's a plus.

    Thx everyone for the encouragement.

  4. Aliza |

    I just found your blog through Babes in Blogland and I am so glad I did. Stop by my blog at babyfruit to commiserate. I need to read through all your b-feeding posts to catch up but just hang in there - you are not alone! In a few days I will post a photo of me doing the latest solution - the nipple shield with the finger feeder tube threaded through it for protected breast feeding and supplementing at the same time. Tried it today at home. Worked like a charm but messy as hell. Well, extra laundry is a small price to pay for the closest to breastfeeding I have gotten in the last few weeks! Good luck to you.

  5. Jessica |

    Thx Aliza. I'll check it out!

  6. liz |

    Hi Jessica, I came over here via S's blog.
    Sorry to hear your having nursing woes. I had a hard time, too. It's a lot of work, but when it goes well, it's so great.
    My son is 4-1/2 months now and it's starting to look like we might be beginning the weaning process. It's been a struggle, to be sure. But I'm proud I made it this far!
    Seth is adorable, congratulations!

  7. Jessica |

    Thanks, Lizzy! Things are improving on the breastfeeding front. Plus, I really need to count my blessings. For example, some people (e.g., Aliza) have to work really hard to make breastfeeding work. Her dedication is amazing!


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