Breastfeeding story – Karen Zacharias, RN IBCLC RLC
In 2012, I gave birth to my first son, Hudson. That amazing flood of emotions was something I will never forget. As a Labor and Delivery nurse, I already knew I wanted to breastfeed. My friends all joked “that will be easy because you already know how to latch a baby”. But truth be told that’s all I knew. Within the first 2 weeks I knew something wasn’t right but didn’t seek help from an IBCLC because I was told it was all “normal”. I remember sitting down to nurse my son, cracked & bleeding with tears streaming down my face. I was reassured by all of my friends, family and even pediatrician that it was “normal”. He would nurse for an entire hour, every two hours for the first few months.
Little did I know Hudson had a posterior tongue tie, causing extreme pain & nipple damage. However, we pushed through & somehow both learned how to compensate. I also struggled with managing 12 hr night shifts and barely finding time to pump. Breastfeeding got dramatically better with time & dedication & we were able to exclusively breastfeed beyond a year.
Three years later I had my second son, Gavin. By this point I had decided I wanted to become a Lactation consultant & help mothers, like myself, who did not have the right education or support. I had just passed my exam as an IBCLC and was hopeful for an easier breastfeeding experience.
Gavin was born with tongue, lip & buccal ties making it extremely hard for him to transfer milk, not to mention the pain. We had his ties quickly released by a pediatric dentist, however my supply still plummeted. I then was dealing with painful nursing, pumping to get my supply back up & a toddler and Husband who also needed my love and attention. I had to take a step back and really look at what was best for all of us.
I chose to pump and bottle feed my breastmilk, with the exception of 1 or 2 nursing sessions a day. At 12 months, I happily ditched the breast pump and worrying and we continued nursing until he was almost 2. Gavin taught me more about breastfeeding then any book could & helped me gain a new found respect for breastfeeding.
In June of 2018, I delivered my third son Brendon. Breastfeeding started off easy but quickly became problematic, again due to ties. I was frustrated but even more determined to make this work. Brendon got revised quickly, we started bodywork, tummy time & exercises and saw amazing improvement over the first 2-3 months. This time I had the help, support, experience and knowledge to help my sweet baby nurse. My passion for breastfeeding has grown & developed me into the lactation consultant I am today.