A Bit More Than a Shadow….

Today I had my first day shadowing a lactation consultant. I was looking forward to seeing the consultants in action and to getting an idea of what they do all day.

I anticipated that I would spend the day being a fly on the wall.  I appreciated Gisele and Sonya allowing me to come into their clinic, but assumed that a spectator was all that I would be.

Luckily for me, Gisele and Sonya expected me to do far more than just sit back and watch the action. I was asked to greet the mothers and have them complete the appropriate form. I was shown how to use the scale and had to weigh each baby before and after their nursing session. The youngest baby that I weighed was just three days old!

It was a great afternoon which I think gave me a good idea of what a lactation consultant does during a breastfeeding clinic. Seven mothers (and one father) came in during the two hours with children ranging from three days to 18 months. I was really surprised by the variety of issues that the mothers presented and by the plethora of knowledge and strategies that the consultants offered. I saw a baby with a possible tongue tie. A few mothers were having difficulty getting a good latch with their babies which was causing them physical pain (and not allowing their babies to extract milk efficiently).

The most interesting thing I saw was a supplementary feeding system. A mother was having difficulty getting her milk to flow (letdown) and the baby was getting frustrated. A very thin tube was placed in a bottle of breastmilk and the other end was slid into the babies mouth along the mother’s nipple once she was latched. This way, the breast was still being stimulated to produce milk because of the baby’s sucking, and the baby was getting lots of milk between the tube and the breast. This system ensured there was no concern with moving the baby from bottle to breast (which can sometimes create difficulty getting the baby to go back to the breast).

I look forward to learning more about breastfeeding mothers and babies and how to help them to more thoroughly enjoy the beautiful relationship that nursing offers.

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