Kristyn Hunt Cathey’s maternity photos are beautiful images of a magical time in her life.
This year she’s celebrating Mother’s Day for the first time and it is going to be extra special for a number of reasons.
No two pregnancies are the same. Symptoms can be different and birth plans can vary. Yet, an overwhelming majority of soon-to-be parents want the same things; a smooth delivery with a healthy baby being the joyous outcome. That’s what Kristyn wanted. But, her pregnancy became scary toward the end, she ended up having an emergency C-section, and her baby was immediately placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). If there was something she learned, from the experience, it was to not put too much pressure on herself.
That of course is easier said than done. She wanted to breastfeed. Besides enhancing her child’s immunity, many experts report a deepening emotional bond between mother and child by breastfeeding. That’s a lot of pressure for new moms not to mention a first time mom with a baby in the NICU.
But, Kristyn didn’t give up. Despite the up-hill battle, Kristyn has succeeded in breastfeeding. Key to that success was the team at CHRISTUS Southeast St. Elizabeth and their lactation consultant. The following is a Q&A with Kristyn in which she explains how she leaned on the CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System team to help.
When was Harrison born? February 6, 2017
How did help from a lactation expert in the hospital get you off to a good start?
My son was in the NICU for the first four days of his life and had it not been for the lactation expert as well as NICU nurses, I wouldn’t have been able to begin nursing my son.
What kind of information and support helped you overcome breastfeeding difficulties?
I had an emergency c-section and my baby was immediately placed in the NICU. The NICU nurses called me every three hours to come to the NICU nursery and feed my baby. My milk had not come in by the second day, but with assistance from the NICU nurses and lactation specialists, I was able to nurse the baby, though minimally, with a nipple shield until my milk began to drop. However, my baby had difficulty staying latched and the both of us became frustrated. The lactation expert helped to keep me calm so the baby would be calm. I tried for several days to nurse, but with the suggestion from the lactation expert, I chose to pump for the remainder of my stay in the hospital. On the last day, the lactation expert came to my room to help me try to nurse him again but we were sadly unsuccessful. I was so emotionally spent, but she reassured me that everything would be okay and this in no way was any indication of the type of mother I would be or that my baby would never latch. I needed that reassurance. I have returned to see the lactation expert since giving birth and I’ve also called for assistance.
When you were pregnant did you talk to your family about breastfeeding? Was it important to you?
I have a close friend that exclusively breast-fed both of her kids and she constantly talked to me about it. Honestly, I did not plan on breastfeeding because I work full-time and I didn’t want to be tied down, but it became important once I gave birth.
For other mothers wishing to breastfeed, what advice would you give them about overcoming challenges?
I would tell mothers to not put so much pressure on themselves. It’s hard no matter if you are a stay at home mom or you work full-time. You can’t be good to your baby without being good to yourself. I realized that the more pressure I put on myself to exclusively breastfeed the more frustrated I became and the more frustrated the baby was as well. I’m the same mom by exclusively pumping and supplementing when needed as I would be if I were exclusively breastfeeding. Don’t let anyone make you feel as if you’re not good enough and always ask for help.
What do you see at the benefits of breastfeeding your baby?
It’s the cheapest way to feed your baby because it comes from your body! You also lose tons of weight. I was blessed to have always been thin and I was all baby throughout my pregnancy. I lost most if not all of my belly by the time I left the hospital, but I have lost so much weight that I’ve had to buy new clothes; which isn’t a bad thing!
What do you think your lactation consultant helped you to achieve?
She helped my self-esteem. She let me know that everything was going to be okay, whether I chose to continue trying to breastfeed or not. She was welcoming and I can’t thank her enough for that.
At CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth, there’s a new lactation support center located on the third floor of the hospital. The first and only center of its kind in Southeast Texas, the new Outpatient Lactation Clinic, is dedicated to help mothers in need of breastfeeding support. Mothers and babies are welcome regardless of their delivery hospital or method of payment. Visit http://www.christussetx.org/outpatient-lactation-clinic for more information.
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