What to Expect From a Lactation Consultant
Lactation Support: Practicing Latch and Hand Expression with In-Person Support
**Note: some might find imagery that appears in this article graphic**
Feeding an infant is a learning process, and in-person support can make that learning curve easier to experience. Nanobébé is proud to partner with Everyday Birth Magazine to support new moms in their journey toward successful breastfeeding. In their documentary series Life’s Work, you can both hear and see what that support can do.
The following reflects what a nursing mother might experience in a session with a lactation specialist. The images and transcription in this article tell the story of parent Ashley and her baby during their visit from Birth Assistant Hayley. Ashley had her baby just three days prior. When Hayley arrives, Ashley is engorged and uncomfortable during feedings — by the end of this two-hour visit, she’s experienced a better latch, learned and practiced how to hand express, relieved the engorgement in her breasts, and her baby weighs 3 ounces heavier — evidence that the feedings have become more productive. To listen to the full audio, visit Ashley's chapter of the Life's Work series.
Here’s a transcript from the visit:
Hayley: (demonstrating) So see how his lip is like this?
Ashley: You want it pushed out?
Hayley: Mhm, like a fish. So what I do — when you have a bad latch, when you feel like it’s not perfect, try your best to fix it while he’s latched, because we don’t want to unlatch him if we don’t have to. So I just gently inch it up all the way around (Hayley is hands-on assisting as she speaks) and then check the bottom lip too.
Hayley: So is that feeling sore right now?
Ashley: M-mm (No).
Hayley: It feels good?
Ashley: Mhm (Yes).
Hayley: That’s great. We’ll just let him peacefully nurse, and do you want a pillow behind you?
Ashley: Maybe one more.
(Hayley gets pillows to make Ashley more comfortable in this position.)
Later in the visit…
Hayley: Do you want to try hand expressing a little on that side?
Hayley: (While watching Ashley practice hand expression) So you’ve got it coming back here, that’s good — and then — and then you’ll just do that a couple of times and then before you get to your areola, you want to push this finger and the thumb together […].
Hayley: This [can be] a difficult thing to get down. It really is. It took me a couple weeks to be really successful at it but it’s — there you go — there — that’s the good one — what you’re doing is [good]— it’s coming now!
(With baby back in her arms)
Ashley: (successfully attempting to latch baby to her breast) Ooh, I think he got it.
Hayley: Yay! Yeah it takes time, this is — I feel like — so normal. Especially with the engorgement.
While Ashley had access to Hayley’s support through postpartum visits offered by her Birth Center, new parents can access empowering, respectful support with infant feeding through a variety of lactation professionals who may operate in their areas.
*Nanobébé is thrilled to welcome guest bloggers. The views and opinions represented in these blog posts belong solely to the guest blogger and are not the legal responsibility of the company. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by the guest blogger and will not be held liable for any errors or omissions of information nor for the availability of this information.
About the Author
Cheyenne Varner - Guest Blogger
Cheyenne Varner is a graphic designer, photographer, and a certified professional birth doula, trained by to Labor, Ancient Song, and Doula Trainings International (DTI) and certified by DTI. She runs The Educated Birth, an online shop of birth educational materials, including Everyday Birth Magazine. She lives in Richmond, VA.