We’ve made a lot of progress establishing breastfeeding since last week. On Friday, I decided that I needed help to resolve the latching issues I was experiencing, and so, based on a number of online recommendations, I called Catriona McCarthy.
Catriona, who runs TheMilkyWay.ie, is an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), and she offers home visits to help with breastfeeding issues.
I explained the problems I was having, including the fact that latching was causing me “exquisite pain“! She advised that I stop using the lanolin and Multi-Mam compresses with immediate effect and instead use breast milk on my nipple after a feed and allow it to air-dry. I was worried about the crack scabbing over if I did that, but Catriona explained that it needed to in order to speed the healing.
So that’s what I did for the weekend. As it happened, Little Woman hit her two week growth spurt during that time as well. And yet despite the constant feeding (every 45 minutes to 2 hours!), I found the pain decreasing rather than increasing. By the time Catriona called me yesterday to arrange a time for today’s appointment, my left side was virtually pain-free and my right side was much improved. I decided to go ahead with the home consultation anyway.
We arranged a time for the visit to coincide with a feed. I had to guesstimate this time because I’m feeding on demand so there are no definite feed times. I’ve been tracking the feeds on my phone using an app called Total Baby, however, so I was able to see that we average 2.5 hours between feeds at the moment, and pick a time based on that.
When she arrived Catriona quickly set me at ease, and we got chatting about my previous breastfeeding experience with Little Man, my birth and hospital experience with Little Woman, and the problems I’m experiencing now. She weighed Little Woman, and I was delighted to note that she is now 3.35kg, well up on her birthweight of 3.1kg. Then Catriona talked me through the Rebecca Glover latching and attachment technique. Immediately, I found it easier to get Little Woman to latch. I wasn’t sure it would continue like that, but I’m happy to report that in the four or five feeds we’ve had since Caitriona left, I’ve had a similar experience for all of them.
As well as helping me with the latch, Caitriona observed the feed. She quickly diagnosed that I have an overactive letdown, which makes it very difficult for baby to deal with the flow of milk at the beginning of a feed. I had suspected as much on Little Man – he often choked on the milk when it would start to flow. Of course oversupply was an issue with him too.
So we discussed strategies for dealing with both the oversupply and the overactive letdown, including block feeding for a number of feeds in a row. Catriona warned me that because the letdown is so strong, I may potentially have a very windy baby on my hands in a few weeks time. She also warned me to try to avoid pumping because it would make both the oversupply and the letdown issues worse. If I need to express milk in future, I’ll try hand expressing.
The rest of our session was spent discussing strategies for common first year issues, including teething and getting baby to sleep in her cot or in the pram. It was really interesting and very helpful.
It’s still less than 24 hours since her visit, so I’m not sure how we’ll get on implementing all of Catriona’s advice. So far so good though. And I can say that I found the visit gave me a great confidence boost and knowing now that I have someone I can call on for feeding advice at any time in the future is invaluable to me.