The Breastfeeding Project: Jenna and Oliver

Another week of the breastfeeding project! Sweet Oliver didn't like getting his picture taken at first...well, actually, he LOVED getting his picture taken, just not while nursing! But not long after a few failed attempts, he settled in. I love the images we captured here!

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Name and age of your nursling?

Oliver, 6 months.

What does breastfeeding mean to you?

Feeding and bonding with my son in the best way we know.

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What has been your biggest breastfeeding challenge?

Oliver had a difficult time latching on. We became worried about his ability to breastfeed 24hrs after birth when we were applying everything that we learned about breastfeeding, but nothing was working. Oliver also had high bilirubin levels, which can make babies lethargic- he wanted to sleep a lot and wasn’t interested in perfecting a good latch. During Oliver’s first night of life outside of my comfy womb, I hand- expressed milk and my husband Tom fed it to him in a teaspoon.

The next morning we did not receive much help from the lactation consultant from the hospital. Later that day we came home with Oliver, I called the local Le Leache League hotline and talked with Laura Tefertiller, CCE, CLE, CPD, who recommended consulting Cathy Janoka, RN, BSN, IBCLC. I called Cathy and she suggested that we continue to express milk from a breast pump. We chose to finger feed him from a syringe (one of the options she suggested). She also recommended that we become very liberal with his feedings to ensure he was receiving enough milk to help process the bilirubin out of his body.

The second day and night my husband and I joined forces again to pull through over-tiredness and apply Cathy’s advice. Tom woke me up about every hour and a half to pump and he finger fed Oliver with a syringe every 2 hours. The next morning we were so happy and relieved that our efforts worked and his bilirubin levels were normal!

On Oliver’s third day of life, Cathy came to our house to work with us directly. It took her only a couple of minutes to discover Oliver’s biggest issue with latching. Oliver was sucking on his tongue and not only did this behavior deter his motivation to eat but it also made it impossible for the nipple to get in over the tongue in the right position. Anytime we saw Oliver sucking on his tongue (almost all the time) we put our finger in his mouth and let him suck on our finger while we kept his tongue down. She also recommended that we try a breast shield to help keep his tongue down during our attempts to breastfeed.

We continued to express milk and finger feed with a syringe until he learned to latch onto the breast shield and receive enough milk. We worked with Cathy a second time for help on weaning off the shield, which was also a helpful visit. It took a lot of hard work and frustration from all of us to wean Oliver off the breast shield and on to the nipple but we did it in a little over 2 weeks. Now Oliver is a breastfeeding pro and we are both comfortable nursing in just about any position, anywhere. 

Breastfeeding Project Cord
Breastfeeding Project Cord

What do you love most about breastfeeding?

The way Oliver looks up at me with the most loving eyes- as if he’s saying thanks for feeding and holding me close.

Who (or what) has offered you support in your journey?

My husband and Oliver’s dad, Tom, was by far the biggest support on our journey. Oliver would not be nursing at the breast today if Tom didn’t share and overcome these challenges with us.

Employing Cathy Janoka, RN, BSN, IBCLC; services was vital in our success. I don’t think we would have found the answers to Oliver’s struggles without her!

Laura Tefertiller’s generous availability kept us moving forward in the right direction.

Any other advice for moms who want to breastfeed?

Attend classes, read about breastfeeding from credible sources, have a plan of action and a list of professionals to consult if troubleshooting is needed.

Breastfeeding Project Cord