When our clients need more than the typical learning curve of breastfeeding support, we refer directly to the best clinic in the city, The Victoria Park Breastfeeding Clinic. Visits both prenatally or during postpartum are covered by OHIP with the referral of your doctor or midwife. The clinic is run by the amazing Shelly Plewes (IBCLC), who is truly gifted in the support she provides. Aside from her clinical work, she teaches breastfeeding to medical students at The University of Toronto and midwifery students at Ryerson & Laurentian.
Read on to learn how your can best prepare for your breastfeeding relationship with you baby and how to navigate this new skill.
What sparked your interest in supporting new families with their breastfeeding needs?
When I had my daughter 16 years ago I had a lovely birth but my breastfeeding fell apart quickly. I didn’t work in this field and was learning day by day. I had terrible latch pain (my right nipple split in half by day 3), severe engorgement and then supplementing with formula. The early help I got added more stress as I was told my “baby was dry as a bone.” I was unaware of how to feed her very effectively so she snacked a lot and was hard to put down. It took many months before I felt we had really a “natural” breastfeeding experience. I became quite passionate about birthing and started attending births as a Doula but felt I did not know how to help in those early feeding moments so I set out to acquire some basic breastfeeding skills. Drawn in by all the various feeding issues that can arise and understanding the stress that goes along with having challenges, I quickly became more focused on increasing my knowledge. That turned into working and teaching in the field. It is an honor to be able to help new families.
What is the best way to prepare for successful breastfeeding?
I have heard so many Moms over the years show regret for not seeking breastfeeding advice prenatally. I am one of them! One Mom of twins recently told me she “spent more time picking out a paint chip for the nursery than learning about breastfeeding.” I would gently encourage new Moms to seek out a great support network-both professionally and in your family/friend circle. Ask your friends with babies to share their experiences and tips. Seek out a good prenatal breastfeeding courses or clinic visits. If you are preparing to hire a postpartum doula team, ensure they are comfortable with helping you with effective breastfeeding management, as well as identifying challenges early and can guide you back on track. Being prepared and having a great and informed support team around you can have such a calming impact on your experience as a new family.
Are prenatal breastfeeding classes worth doing?
Absolutely! It has been my experience over the years meeting new families, that classes offered in the community can vary widely in advice given. Our families tell us that courses provided by our Midwifery clinics, LC’s and Professional Doulas typically offer more in depth information on feeding and infant behaviors. The best courses teach us to look at our babies to understand what is going on versus the clock or a book. We also offer prenatal appointments in clinic (covered by OHIP). We love to bring our expecting Moms in to view a breastfeeding Mom and babe. They get to learn firsthand effective latching and breastfeeding management as well as what to expect in the nerve wracking early days.
Is breastfeeding supposed to hurt?
Breastfeeding is comfortable with effective latching. Sometimes, in the learning curve, latching may feel tender here and there but a deep, asymmetrical latch will help new Moms feel comfortable to feed their babies and build their confidence. Many Moms come into clinic with very damaged nipples and it is lovely to see their relief that even with damage, their latch can feel comfortable. It is important to have your practitioner reviewing many aspects of your pain and nipple with you so you are getting the proper treatments in addition to working on the latching.
- How to know if you are being given good advice?
- Are you producing enough?
- Common mistakes new parent make with breastfeeding and more!