You may be wondering what that means.
Last year I learned that today is IBCLC Day and wrote this post! Today I have revised it a bit.
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a health care professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. This person has demonstrated competence to practice by passing an internationally recognized criterion-reference examination.
In my opinion, one of the most important people in health care!
The IBCLC in my life is an amazing woman named Sandy. Sandy saved my breastfeeding relationship with Robbie almost eight and a half years ago. We spent many hours with her during the first year of his life. Sandy helped us on an individual basis by phone, visits to the hospital and at her New Baby Support Group.
Before Robbie was born I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I read every book our library system had on breastfeeding. I didn’t take the breastfeeding class that was offered at the hospital because I was too cheap to pay for the class and too busy to schedule it. Instead I read all I could about it. My main motivation wasn’t the health benefits to me and my child it was the gut feeling I got about the yuckiness of formula and the cost. Breastfeeding is FREE!
I had good role models in my life who breastfed. One of them was my Mom. She breastfed five out of the six of her children. Three of them, triplets, who were born prematurely. My mom pumped milk for them and even had extra milk for the other babies in the NICU. She pumped for four months until the triplets finally latched on.
At the hospital where Robbie was born the nurses and lactation consultant tried to help us. Robbie never latched on while we were there. The staff kept telling me he will and they continued to “slam” his face into my breast trying to get him to latch on. All he would do was scream bloody murder and pulled his head away from me. Did this cause his strong-willed personality or was this the first sign of it? The staff at the hospital insisted on me watching a 45 minute video on breastfeeding before I went home. All I can remember about that video was “I am doing that” and “I already know this”. I think they sent me home thinking I was a lost cause and would fail at breastfeeding. The lactation consultant there found out that we lived closer to Waupaca than Neenah and told me that I would need to get in touch with Sandy the IBCLC at the hospital there, because “She is the best lactation consultant in the state! Waupaca is lucky to have her there.”
Robbie’s bilirubin was high when we left the hospital at two days old and the numbers kept climbing until he was 5 days old. We met Sandy after seeing our family doctor when Robbie was three days old. He was sleeping all the time still not latching on.
I will always remember my first meeting with Sandy. She reassured us that we could make breastfeeding work. She asked me to show her how I was trying to breastfeed. Sandy’s exact words were, “Jenny, you are doing everything right! It’s Robert who needs some work.” I thought to myself Thank you for not making me watch another video! I fell in love with Sandy during that first meeting. I could feel her love for mothers, babies and breastfeeding. That is when I knew then that I had the best lactation consultant in the world!
Sandy set us up with a breast pump, supplemental finger feeder, a chart to chart everything: ounces of breast milk pumped, Robbie’s intake and output, minutes of latch, minutes of drinking my milk with the finger feeder, Robbie’s mood or reaction and what time all of this happened.
The supplemental finger feeder.
Because his bilirubin was still climbing he was hospitalized for more lights and monitoring when he was 4 days old.
After things settled down and Robbie got the hang of breastfeeding. The largest benefit I got from Sandy’s wisdom was attending her New Baby Support Group twice a month for his first year of life. I rarely missed a meeting! I went to many of these meetings when Charlie and Henry were new babies too. Sandy has specific topics for each meeting and always had a scale to weigh your baby. She always stayed later to answer every mom’s questions. My babies were breastfeeding a lot. I always wondered if they were getting enough. I was reassured by the scale that they were getting enough and were gaining weight. I learned something new about breastfeeding, how to take care of my baby and myself, and how to be the mama I wanted to be at every meeting. On top of these wonderful things I also met many other mamas who have become dear friends to me.
Because of the support I got from Sandy, Jack and all of my family and friends I was successful with breastfeeding Robbie, Charlie and Henry. Between our three boys I have been able to breastfeed for a total 76 months. Baby number four will add to my number of months of total breastfeeding.
Added: March 6, 2013
As you know, Nola Mae arrived about 11 months ago. We had a good start to breastfeeding. And then things started to go down hill. Four kids knocked the wind out of my sails for many months, my milk supply dropped drastically and Nola Mae wasn’t gaining weight. We discovered this by visiting Sandy often for weight checks and she got us back on track. I feel like there are many more details to share about the things I learned during the first 6 months of Nola Mae’s life – I do have a blog post drafted about this topic I just need some time to work on it!
I am now up to about 88 months of breastfeeding and still going strong thanks to all the support I have gotten from Sandy, Dr. Charlie, my family and friends.
A related post I put together for World Breastfeeding Week in 2011: http://skiingmama.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/world-breastfeeding-week-2011/
- What to ask a pediatrician about breastfeeding (rakhealthmatters.wordpress.com)