It was our last day in the hospital. I had technically already been discharged and we were waiting on the hospital pediatrician to sign Ella's discharge papers. We were living on hospital time. As we waited, expecting a doctor to show up any moment, a lactation consultant stuck her head in the room and asked if we needed any assistance. I started to send her away because, really, what could be said that I didn't already know. Then I thought about the blisters that were already starting to form and reconsidered. I told her this was my fifth baby so I already know what to do, but if she had time and nobody else needed help and we were still here when she returned, I wouldn't mind a glance and an opinion. She agreed and left to check on other patients.
My nursing history is such that my babies generally latch well, I get horrible blisters for no discernible reason, the blisters heal within a week or two, and we go on to nurse uneventfully and relatively pain free until weaning. I figured this time would not be any different. I didn't want to take her time for what I considered a hopeless but temporary situation and prevent her from helping another patient with bigger issues.
In spite of my past nursing experiences, my experiences with lactation consultants have not been great. With Grace, at the baby friendly hospital, the nurse recommended the shove technique where she shoved baby's face into my breast, held it there, and wouldn't let her move. Latched? Not latched? Whatever. That head wasn't moving. With Olivia, the LC told me that I was, in fact, not in pain because the latch was right. My mind and pain receptors must have been deluded. With Sam, Lactation never bothered to check on us. With Marian and the midwife, she confirmed the latch looked good and that was the end of that. My hopes were not high for this latest consult.
After awhile the lactation nurse returned and we were still waiting on the discharge papers. Hospital time. I told her we could give it a go and see what she had to recommend.
She told me that mothers with nursing experience tend to use the cradle hold and tend not to get a deep enough latch because of it. I nodded and latched Ella on. She said her latch looked great even though I was using the cradle hold. I nodded again. I know. She looked and thought and thought and looked.
Finally she had an idea. She prefaced with a warning that she did not know if it would work, but that if I changed the angle of attack, it might be less painful. She recommend I use a cross cradle hold, make sure baby was as parallel to the floor as possible, and use my free arm to help support her weight along with a generous use of pillows. Her idea was that the 20-30 degree angle off parallel that I held baby might be causing a touch of friction, even though the latch looked fine. She grabbed a bunch of pillows and encouraged me to hold her as straight as possible.
I latched Ella on, guiding her head with my opposite hand. And...nothing happened. Nothing. No pain. No agony. No curled toes. No feeling of expanding blisters. No nothing. Baby just ate. Nobody was more shocked than I was. The sky opened and music was heard--or maybe that was the Cuddle Time announcement? Maybe pain and blisters were not inevitable with a new, newborn. I copiously thanked this lactation consultant who took pity on my poor grand multipara, AMA soul.
By the next morning, the blisters had receded and I didn't have any more latching pain as long as I remembered to keep her parallel. A totally unexpected result.
Eventually we adjusted and I could return to my lazy, cradle-hold-at-an-angle ways. Now I just have to worry about the pain associated with Ella wanting to nurse and also wanting to have enough space to look around. I don't think an LC can fix this one.
Thus ends the trio of funny hospital moments I meant to tell you about six months ago.