Maddie Gallant, a registered nurse on the IWK Health birth unit, along with husband Brandon, an occupational therapist, are parents to a sweet baby boy named Hugh, who is four months old. We asked Maddie about her breastfeeding experience and the early challenges she faced in nursing her son.
Tell us about your breastfeeding experience.
Hugh was born at 37 weeks, and from the beginning we struggled with feeding. He was early and had jaundice, along with having low sugars in the first 24 hours of birth. During this time, I attempted to latch every feed that I could, along with hand expressing drops for each feed.
Finally at 72 hours old, Hugh started waking up, but unfortunately still wouldn’t latch and had a tongue tie, this is when we introduced a nipple shield. The nipple shield was a huge help during those first few months of life. I continued to pump and use the haaka at each feed to help with my supply, and he thrived. He went from 7.2 lbs at birth to 17.2 lbs at four months of age!
What does breastfeeding mean to you?
Breastfeeding is truly an honour for me. I absolutely love my time with Hugh feeding and bonding. It is something he and I just share, and I really cherish each feed. My favourite feed is the bedtime feed because it’s a moment where we wind down from the day and I just get to hold my baby boy.
How do the people closest to you support your breastfeeding journey?
My husband was my biggest supporter through our journey. From helping me latch at the beginning to getting my shields washed and sterilized in the middle of the night he did it all, he even stayed up in the middle of the night for night feeds to keep me company.
In addition, the nurses on the unit especially my nurses; Lauren, Jemima, Michelle, Nicole, Emma, Abby, Ashley, Dawn and Tammy were incredible supports through my journey. They were an amazing wealth of knowledge and support through all the emotional moments of the first few days of my little one’s life.
Finally, my family and friends (specifically my mom & my mom group) were incredible in supporting me and guiding me through those tough times. Answering questions and always there to lend a helping hand.
What has been helpful to you throughout breastfeeding?
My support network has been huge in our breastfeeding journey. It has helped us through every obstacle and challenge we’ve encountered. The postpartum clinic and lactation consultants were also incredible supports in our early days.
What was your biggest breastfeeding challenge? How did you overcome that challenge?
Our biggest challenge was Hugh’s tongue tie. He would not latch unless I had the shield on, and he had a lot of trouble with his tongue movement. Hugh had a Frenotomy at three weeks of age. At least two to three times a day I tried to latch Hugh without the shield. I did this for two months straight. I was calm, persistent, and worked with Hugh to eventually at almost three months he started to latch without the shield.
I was so proud of us, that we continued to work together to finally be able to take the shield away for feedings, and I’m happy to report he continues to nurse exceptionally without the shield.
Is there anything you didn’t have/wasn’t available to you that you think could have helped during your breastfeeding journey?
If I’m being honest, no I really didn’t feel like I needed anything more than I had. I was so well supported and educated by the nurses on birth unit & family newborn, along with the lactation consultants while in hospital, and then my family was a huge support as well.
Is there anything you would want new parents to know about breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally or easy. It takes time, practice, and patience. The calmer you can be, the easier it is for you and baby to learn together. Any amount of time breastfeeding is helpful for you and for baby and be proud of yourself.
You are the best mama for your baby!
From October 1 to 7, 2021 IWK Health is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) both within the organization and out in the community. This year’s theme is Protect Breastfeeding, It Is a Shared Responsibility.