OK I'm waffling now, but moral of the story is that we won't be going back and I didn't enjoy the experience. In general Billy hates all hospital/doctor environments that involve stripping him down and laying him on a table (who wouldn't right?) so I knew that he wouldn't like it but he absolutely screamed the place down for 90% of it. I spent about fifteen minutes of the hour breastfeeding him to keep him calm. He hated it. I spent most of the appointment pacifying him in various ways and he just looked so devastated. It was almost awkward if I'm honest. At one point Billy farted and the therapist said to me "look, the work I'm doing is already working as he's already let off some wind that was trapped". This was such an incredibly awkward moment because a) Billy constantly farts. He is not a burpy baby but seems to let his wind out by farting and b) he had already farted several times during the time I was there when we were just talking. It seemed as though about ten minutes of the session actually involved her with her hands on him and I couldn't really tell what she was doing because I was calming him, but it just... didn't feel right. I am totally 'in to' homeopathy and holistic treatments in general and my mother is a Reiki master so it wasn't anything to do with me being closed-minded. It just generally felt like a bit of a sham. When the "session" ended she recommended we come back three more times as his neck was "quite stiff" or something like that. Of course it was. I paid my €65 and left the office feeling off about the whole thing. I chatted to my boyfriend about it, a couple of friends, and my mam, and in the end we decided not to go back. A mother's gutt feeling you could call it, but I didn't feel as though it would help him in any way and it genuinely felt like a money making thing. I'm not saying Osteopathy is a sham, far from it. Friends of mine swear by it. But in this instance, and through this experience, I didn't like it. Maybe we/I will try another therapist at some point in the future and of course I haven't mentioned the name of the place that I attended because I have no intention of giving somewhere bad press when it could easily just be down to personal experience and taste. For anyone who is interested in this type of treatment, this link describes it quite well. It's called craniosacral therapy.
Now to the good stuff. My lactation consultant visit.
People would make an appointment with a LC (look at me just using the initials) for various reasons. For some it could be due to the pain they are feeling when breastfeeding and it could be diagnosed that the baby is latching incorrectly or has a tongue tie (google it, there is a procedure to correct it and thank god it isn't an issue for us. The procedure can be the difference between breastfeeding and not being able to), an issue with milk supply and fears that the baby is not "getting enough", or something psychological such as the anxieties associated with feeding in public.
For me, the issue was trying to wean little Billy off the nipple shield. As mentioned in a previous post, nipple shields were the difference between me being able to breastfeed Billy and not being able to. When Billy was in the special care unit he was fed via a bottle and given formula as he was very pale and lethargic and they wanted to monitor what he was eating. From that point on Billy did not want to latch on to me at all. He had experienced bottle feeding where the milk is fast-flowing and he didn't have to do any "work" to get the milk, and he knew that there was an alternative to the breast and the latch etc. In the end we found a solution and Billy latched on beautifully with the use of a nipple shield. It was a God send. It's basically a silicone shield that you place over your nipple and it makes it more defined and feels more like a bottle to the baby. I am so so grateful that these exist as without them I would never have had the opportunity to build my milk supply and breastfeed Billy so successfully.
For the first three weeks I was trying to exclusively breastfeed but I was paranoid about whether or not Billy was getting enough breast milk and whether the shield was causing any problems in that regard. For this reason I would perceive his "fussy" period (a period where he would cry a lot between the hours of 10pm and 3am and the only thing that would calm him was to breastfeed him constantly. Turns out this is perfectly normal for babies who are breastfed) as hunger and I would give him one bottle of formula at night before "bed" (I say "bed" as this was the time I would bring him upstairs full of hope that he would sleep because I was exhausted, but Billy had other plans). This bottle of formula felt like "the answer" to me but in the end I realised that it wasn't actually agreeing with him at all and he would spit up most of it and have really bad wind after it. At some point I had to decide to just have a little faith in breastfeeding and trust that my body was producing enough for my baby, and trust that he was accessing enough through the use of the breast shield. A great way of reassuring myself was to bring Billy to the local health centre and have him weighed by the public health nurse. Thankfully he was gaining weight and he was right on track for healthy growth. This made me feel great. Finally we were formula free and officially exclusively breastfeeding. Great feeling.
Despite all of this, I still want to wean Billy off the breast shield. It's doing no harm at all, but quite simply it would be a lot easier to not have to worry about bringing the shields with me when I'm out and about, sterilising them, and even applying them when he is being fussy can add some extra stress. This is why I decided to call a lovely lady called Sue Jameson. Sue was a lactation consultant recommended to me by a fellow blogger and she ended up being recommended by several others who had availed of her services. I knew it would be worth the money and I contacted her to make an appointment. I sent her a quick text one day and she replied promptly with a lovely friendly reply and we arranged for her to call out to my house a couple of days later. She informed me that the fee was €60 per hour and that an appointment would usually be about an hour in duration. I was delighted to have it organised and I really looked forward to it.
Sue arrived at 12 noon the following Wednesday and I instantly knew that it was going to be a positive experience. She had such a lovely energy about her and she was just a lovely lady. I felt comfortable around her straight away. I had timed her visit to coincide with a feed for Billy, which is more tricky than it sounds when you are feeding on demand as there is no such thing as a "routine" (this word you hear a lot of when you have a newborn. It's great fun altogether). Sue recommended that I start to feed him as he was already showing signs of being hungry by putting his fingers in his mouth and smacking his lips (soooo cute). I put the nipple shield on, latched him on, and off he went on his merry milky way. Straight away Sue said some really encouraging things and basically told me that he was feeding perfectly, getting loads of milk, and the shields posed no issues whatsoever. This was such a wonderful thing to hear. It was as though all of my insecurities that had built up since our breastfeeding journey began, just disappeared in to thin air. I felt like Sue gave me a gold star. So now I knew that breastfeeding was going well and Billy was getting lots of the good stuff. My baby was thriving and I felt great. However, I still wanted to eventually stop using the shields.
As much as Sue emphasised that there was no issue with me using the shield, she also understood the very valid reasons I had for wanting to move away from them. She gave me some great tips to aid me in doing this and the main point was not to force it. She recommended that I continue to try him without a shield, even if it was at the end of a feed, and that eventually he would just latch on himself. So that's where we are at the moment. We still use the shields and the little cutie still doesn't want to latch on without, but I will continue to try and persevere. I am hopeful that eventually we will not need the shield anymore. At the same time I am totally fine with the thought of continuing to use them indefinitely because without these babies I would not be breastfeeding and as many of you will know I felt very passionate about breastfeeding my baby. I absolutely love it and I have no intention to stop any time soon. I actually read an article today about the grief people feel when their breastfeeding journey ends, and it made me cry. Some of you will understand this completely and others will laugh it off, but here is the article for anyone who might be interested.
The visit from Sue was about an hour in duration. The best part of her visit was that she also gave me great advice about other topics such as co-sleeping (another days work, but I am very much all for it if it works for you, and it does for us), babywearing (which is something I was already very excited about) and information about various breastfeeding support groups. We also had a great chat about motherhood in general. Sue is very well respected in the whole industry of maternal health and well being as well as birthing. Even since her visit I've seen her name referenced on various websites and forums so I'm delighted that I saw her. We spoke about how some babies like to be held and be close to you more than others do (Billy is like this, hence the babywearing suggestions) and I felt that she was just a fountain of knowledge about all things maternal, and not just breastfeeding which she is of course an expert in. Sue has a recognised qualification in her services which are signified by the letters IBCLC (An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a health care professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding.).
I cannot recommend Sue enough and for anyone considering making an appointment, her contact details are as follows :