Last August 18, I attended my first ever breastfeeding seminar at St. Luke’s Medical Center QC. The workshop was headed by L.A.T.C.H
Sinetch si Latch?
L.A.T.C.H. (Lactation, Attachment, Training, Counseling, Help) is a hospital based non-profit organization established in 2006 that offers quality lactation education and peer counseling services to mothers who wish to breastfeed.
From the seminar, I gathered that this a group of moms who aim to EDUCATE and EMPOWER women about breastfeeding. I felt their passion for their advocacy and it was really infectious. I aim to breastfeed my second baby because DW and I weren’t able to latch (read my story here) but after listening to the LATCH counselors, I am so much more determined than ever. I have to say that being in the room energized me and made me get over my fears and insecurities of breastfeeding.
I went with my friends Maan and Mia who were with their babies, both of whom were breastfeeding their babies all throughout the session. They were practicing what was being thought in the sessions but they also sought counseling because they wanted to ensure that what they were doing was right. It drove home the point that breastfeeding is a continuous learning process for you and your kid. I’m also really really happy that my closest friends are breastfeeding their kids and have been supportive of my decision to exclusively breastfeed my 2nd baby. Support is just a call away! This kid will grow up loved and led by loving ladies.
I was also so proud of my friends Eli and Jen of PaintersWife and Next9 respectively. They are certified LATCH counselors and are staunch breastfeeding advocates. Together with other counselors, they taught, shared their expertise and assured moms that YES, breastfeeding is a challenge and yes it will hurt but the payoff is so much worth it. Truly, with breastfeeding, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
Here are some things that I’ve learned during that wonderful Saturday morning:
Learning is Half the Battle
I had my own preconceived notions about breastfeeding that was thankfully busted wide open by Latch. Even though I read resources and books about breastfeeding before I gave birth to DW, when he was given to me for feeding, I just looked at him and just thought, WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?! Reading about breastfeeding and doing it are two very different things. To me it felt like reading and studying about synchronized swimming without attending a single swimming class.
I had a lot of light bulb moments during the seminar. The coaching sessions however were priceless. I learned about different positions that would ensure the best latch for me and my kid.
Practice Makes Perfect.
I had a normal delivery with DW. I gave birth at 12 mn, but I was already walking around by the afternoon. I went to the nursery to get DW and to try to feed him. I held him in a cradle position and went to the feeding room along with a gaggle of other moms who are happily breastfeeding their babies. Some were pumping milk using the huge medela machine in the room while some were manually expressing. They all seemed happy and were producing so much milk. I learned that some of the moms are no longer in the hospital but their babies are in the nursery and they were just there to feed their kids and to express milk.
So I sat down, bared a boob, had DW’s nose touch my nipple but nothing. No suckling and he was groggy but I could see him rooting but I couldn’t catch him! We never latched. Plus I wasn’t producing any milk, I was expecting that milk would come up dripping from my boobs as soon as I gave birth!
Now I realize that I should not have given up right away. During that crucial first day, a newborn should be able to at least get the colostrum. What should have happened is that I should have practiced latching and feeding. Every 2-3 hours is the norm but of course it’s not THE schedule to follow. You feed on demand.
Don’t Bring the Pump to the Hospital
The pump interferes with milk supply. I brought mine and I pumped when DW and I couldn’t latch. At the very least, DW got the all important colostrum. I learned from the seminar that pumping can either make you overproduce or underproduce nilk (what happened to me). My friend pumped too and she had an oversupply which stimulated her breasts. Her boobs were engorged as a result and they were painful! What’s important is to establish your milk supply first. The pump should come in later when you want to start storing milk. Again, feed on demand.
I’m lucky that I am giving birth in St. Luke’s QC where they have certified lactation nurses on board. A friend who gave birth there owes her breastfeeding success to a nurse who was very patient with her. Knowing that my hospital has a breastfeeding program takes the worry off completely.
For Working Moms: Establish Guidelines for Your Breastfeeding/Pumping Needs
One of the speakers at the seminar was a full-time working mom who shared a great tip for working moms like me. Before going on maternity leave, it’s best to establish with your bosses and teammates that you intend to breastfeed and that you will be pumping milk on your return. Assure them that the pumping sessions will only take 10-15 minutes of your day every 2-3 hours. It’s also best if you identify right away where you will be doing your pumping. I am fortunate that we have a privacy room in our office which has a lounge chair, tables and sink that I can use to pump. If your office does not have one, maybe you can seek the help of HR or your boss if you can use an extra conference room during your session so that you can pump in peace.
Breastfeeding is 50% Attitude and 50% Willpower
The determination to properly breastfeed is a combination of mental and physical willingness. To me the mental willingness is the most difficult given that I am a naturally anxious person. Sometimes anxiety and stress wins me over and I turn into a mess. Going to the Latch seminar helped a lot because that mental willingness was amped 100 times more. Don’t get me wrong, the session wasn’t all rah-rah land empty slogans. The Latch counselors presented breastfeeding as a difficult and challenging process – clogged ducts, zombie sessions, mastitis, etc — these are all par for the course and it’s OK! Which brings me to my last learning point:
Let your household, husband and anyone who will be involved in your breastfeeding story know that they are all active participants of the process. If you have friends who are breastfeeding or who have breastfed, let them know that you will be bugging them for tips, tricks and venting sessions when the going gets rough. Tell your husband or partner not to waver when you feel like giving up. If you have a mother-in-law or manang in your house who is intrimida, stand your ground. All those talk of your milk not being enough is bull. You produce what your kid needs.
So to my dear closest friends, get ready for me. I am scared, anxious but really really REALLY excited to breastfeed. To my husband BDW, I need you to not rush to the drugstore to buy a can of milk when I am in tears over my boobs and my baby. To everyone else, please pray for me and baby number 2.
If you need counseling help, you may contact a Latch counselor via their facebook page at http://facebook.com/theperfectLatch Like the page to get the latest announcements on announcements. I really encourage preggy moms who are interested in breastfeeding to attend their seminars.