Shamiso’s Journey

Discovering laid-back nursing

After 26 hours of labour, a birth plan that went out the window, and giving birth during a pandemic…my son was born May 1st 2020. Spending the first couple hours in the hospital bonding with baby Z, doing skin to skin, and smothering him with kisses was truly magical. My midwife asked “are you ready to have him latch?”. This was the moment I was waiting for. This angelic bonding that was to come with baby Z and I. Just as I had seen many generations of women before me do it, or even how its portrayed in the movies, it was finally my time. I was still in a daze from giving birth, so I couldn’t focus on what my midwife was saying to have him latch correctly. She said “do you feel him sucking? That’s it, that’s how it should feel when he latches correctly”. I was confused…how should it feel..I cant feel anything. Too tired to ask her again, I decided I would figure it out at home, how hard could it be?

Three days after having Baby Z home, I was in tears every time I had to feed him. The thought of having him latch made me anxious and stressed. Especially at night when he would cluster feed. My nipples were sore and my body ached – I felt like giving up on breastfeeding. How could I only be a few days into breastfeeding and already feeling so defeated? This was not as easy as it looks.

The pandemic meant that I could not have anyone over at the house to help me with the latching. I called my midwife who tried to offer support over the phone, but it wasn’t enough. I tried to YouTube different latching techniques, but nothing was working. Desperate, I reached out to my mom group on Facebook and asked if anyone had resources I can connect with. I was frustrated that this pandemic meant that I had to deal with this alone. However, I found comfort in reading all the supportive messages from other moms on Facebook trying to help me out.
After reading through the comments someone suggested Liana for virtual lactation consulting.

I was hesitant to see how a virtual appointment would work but I decided to reach out. My appointment with Liana changed the course of breastfeeding experience. With her helpful techniques I was able to have him latch more comfortably. The most important thing she told me was to drop my shoulders, sit back and relax. A simple change in my body’s mental and physical state helped me ease into breastfeeding more successfully. As a new mom, I definitely needed to learn the art of relaxation. Two months later, my son and I have progressed tremendously with breastfeeding. He can latch correctly, and it is also comfortable for me. I have a more positive relationship with my breastfeeding experience.

To all the new moms, especially the ones giving birth during the pandemic, you do have a community of people ready to help. I felt the loneliness, the fear, the isolation. I’ve been mad, sad, angry at the world wondering why I have to figure this out alone. My virtual community has become my support system. I have leaned into the idea of reaching out to moms online and sharing your small wins and asking any questions. I would encourage new moms to find positive online communities to connect with. Whether its Facebook or blogs. Also, don’t be afraid to tell your partner or share with a family member that you’re struggling. Vocalizing and confiding with loved ones can release so much stress. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. 


Sarah’s Journey

Overcoming slow weight gain

By: Liana Salvador-Watts, RN, IBCLC

Meet Sarah and Winston. Sarah called me when Winston was two weeks old, because Winston’s doctor told her that his weight gain was slower than expected. Because of the slow gain, she was having to pump after every feed and top up with formula. When I examined Winston, I noticed a possible tongue-tie, and suspected that this was likely the reason he was very slow to gain weight, as he was having to work very hard to remove the milk he needed. Sarah had to work very hard to increase her milk volume, so she took Domperidone while she continued to breastfeed, top up with expressed milk and formula and pump. Winston’s tongue-tie was diagnosed by a specialist and he had a frenotomy/release at 12 weeks. Winston also struggled with reflux and significant abdominal discomfort for a few months, which was also a major challenge, so they did craniosacral therapy to help with this. She continued with breast-bottle-pump until about 4 months, when Winston’s nursing became so efficient and her milk volume increased to the point where she no longer needed bottles or pumping. Finally, Winston was full and content after breastfeeding!

Sarah once told me during a difficult time during those first couple months “I hope I can at least make it 8 months breastfeeding…”. Well now Winston is a healthy 16-month-old and they are still nursing. I asked Sarah if you could say one thing to another parent facing a similar challenge that she did, what would it be? She replied, “Hire a lactation consultant haha. Actually.”

Anna’s Journey

Overcoming pain and latching challenges

I had learned about the many benefits to breastfeeding before giving birth to my first child and was committed to breastfeeding.  I was also aware of the set-backs that could occur while trying to learn the art of breastfeeding with a new baby.  All of this was theoretical knowledge and it didn’t feel like I was prepared when the time came!  However, the information we received in our pre-natal class with Liana gave us the knowledge of where to get help when issues arose.

My child was born by unplanned C-section.  While delivery by C-section can create challenges in the initial breastfeeding relationship, Liana had provided some words of wisdom in our pre-natal class and I attribute those to having a good supply of colostrum when my child was born.  Despite my good supply, I had difficulties getting my child to latch and feed adequately, which we later realized was at least in part due to tongue-tie.  I had help from the lactation consultant at the hospital and from some very supportive nurses.  But likely due to the tongue-tie, by the time we were being released, our child was at risk of jaundice from insufficient liquid intake.  We were released on the condition that we supplement breastfeeding with formula.

Thanks to the information we received from Liana in our pre-natal class, we were aware that there was help available to us.  We visited the Toronto Public Health breastfeeding clinic, had a follow-up with the lactation consultant at St. Joe’s, and had Liana come to our home.  We rented a hospital-grade breastpump to ensure my supply didn’t drop and we followed an intense routine that started with me breastfeeding while struggling with the latching.  Then I pumped while my partner bottle or finger fed our baby up with pumped milk and, if needed, formula.

The first two weeks were some of the most challenging times of our lives.  The latches during this period ranged from uncomfortable to excruciatingly painful.  We had a cycle of 1 hour feeding, 1 hour cleaning equipment, and 1 hour sleeping for days (and nights) at a time.  It was exhausting.   But the thoughts of bonding and the many benefits to breastfeeding kept me going through the pain and sleep deprivation.

During these two weeks, our child was diagnosed and treated for tongue-tie.  Although the tongue-tie release seemed to help somewhat, we still had to work on the latch.  I found things seemed to go well whenever someone was helping me and it was daylight but there were some rough times in the middle of the night when I just couldn’t seem to master the technique.

Throughout the challenging weeks after giving birth, I remember thinking, “how long before breastfeeding gets better?”  My sister-in-law’s experience of watching Netflix while breastfeeding seemed like a different world than the one I was living in.  But we persevered and it got better.  One day, I was able to master the cradle hold and free up my second hand.  I read a magazine while nursing and felt a surge of hope and joy.

Breastfeeding can be a rollercoaster.  We ran into more obstacles like thrush and blocked ducts.  There were times when things seemed horribly hard.  But I got help from Liana, La Leche League, and support from other moms and every problem eventually resolved and the breastfeeding relationship got stronger.  The snuggles and bonding alone were worth all the effort.