At the top of Kristina Skinner’s to-do list when she was pregnant with her first baby was to learn about breastfeeding. In preparation for her new arrival, Kristina attended Missouri Baptist Medical Center’s breastfeeding class, where she learned the basics of breastfeeding and received information about pumping.
Then as her due date approached, Kristina and her husband, Nathan, finished the nursery and eagerly awaited the arrival of their first child. “I felt prepared for delivery, breastfeeding and becoming a mom.”
On March 26, 2020, Finnley was born at MoBap just as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the United States. “I had an easy delivery, but the stay-at-home orders were going into effect,” she recalled. “To keep everyone safe, we asked to be discharged home 24 hours after Finnley’s birth.”
Before leaving the hospital, Kristina met with a lactation consultant who helped her begin breastfeeding. “Finnley was feeding great in the hospital.”
During Finnley’s first visit to the pediatrician, Kristina learned he had lost weight during his first weeks of life.
Molly Veltz, RN, BSN, IBCLC, international board-certified lactation consultant at Missouri Baptist, explained, “It’s normal for breastfed babies to lose some weight initially, but we like to see them back to birth weight when they are 2 weeks old.”
To help Finnley gain weight, Kristina’s pediatrician referred her to MoBap’s Infant Feeding Clinic, where an occupational therapist (OT) could evaluate and treat Finnley’s feeding difficulties.
MoBap’s Infant Feeding Clinic is staffed by NICU-experienced occupational therapists with lactation certification who help moms and babies with feeding issues after returning home. Kristina met in-person with Kara Hoette, MoBap occupational therapist and IBCLC, who corrected latching issues and provided guidance on different feeding techniques and positioning options.
Molly said that latching is how the newborn attaches to the breast while feeding. “A deep, comfortable latch is crucial to transfer milk out of the breast and stimulate more milk production. If milk isn’t flowing well, and frequently, supply suffers.”
“Finnley met his feeding goals in just two visits,” Kara remembered. To continue the support of Kristina’s journey, Kara introduced her to Mom’s MoBap Morning and MoBap’s Breastfeeding Support Group, which were transitioning from an in-person to a virtual format because of the pandemic.
As the Breastfeeding Support Group leader, Molly explained that participants meet virtually every week to discuss their concerns. “It’s a casual environment where moms can share their experiences, ask questions and offer suggestions and support to other moms.”
Kristina found the online format very convenient and welcoming. “It was encouraging to be with others who were breastfeeding successfully or facing feeding challenges similar to mine.”
Molly reassured Kristina that breastfeeding challenges are normal. “I learned that even though breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t come naturally to every mother and baby. With help from the Infant Feeding Clinic and the Breastfeeding Support Group, we resolved Finnley’s feeding issues,” Kristina said.
Welcoming a Second Child
On July 2, 2022, Kristina and Nathan welcomed their second son, Caspian. With the stay-at-home orders no longer in effect, she had a three-day stay at MoBap.
Before she went home, Molly visited Kristina in her Mother-Baby room to check how Caspian was breastfeeding. “I didn’t have any concerns because he was feeding well, and I felt like I knew what I had to do based on my experience with Finnley.”
New Breastfeeding Challenges
At Caspian’s two-week pediatrician visit, Kristina was surprised that he had lost weight. “To make sure he gained weight, our pediatrician referred us to the Infant Feeding Clinic to consult with the feeding therapy team.”
Caspian was evaluated by MoBap OT and IBCLC, Elisa Doherty. After seeing that he wasn’t sucking well and tired quickly when eating, Elisa guided Kristina and Caspian through positioning strategies to improve latching and milk transfer. “We also advised triple feeding to support his growth.”
Molly explained that triple feeding is a temporary regimen that can help increase breast milk supply and help the baby gain weight. “For many moms, breastfeeding is a process that takes time. A triple feeding program is usually recommended if a baby isn’t latching correctly or gaining weight. The routine involves putting the baby to the breast, followed by pumping and then supplementing with expressed milk, and sometimes formula. The process is repeated approximately every three hours.”
Elisa added that triple feeding is a short-term intervention used as a part of a feeding plan to help reach the long-term goal of improved breastfeeding. “Triple feeding is intensive and challenging to complete,” she said. “Once a baby shows improvement in breastfeeding efficiency, the therapists at the clinic can help guide when it is appropriate to wean away from this process.”
“Even though it was short-term, the cycle of triple feeding was draining,” Kristina said. She remembered the encouragement she received from the Breastfeeding Support Group with Finnley and rejoined to share her challenges and receive support from other mothers.
Group Provides Needed Support
Molly said that when someone has breastfeeding challenges, they may feel like the only one struggling. “One of the best things about the group is that moms realize they aren’t alone. We welcome anyone trying to make milk for their baby.”
Since the Breastfeeding Support Group offered virtual meetings, Kristina could attend while taking a break to pump at work. As she looks back on her experience, Kristina is grateful for the support she received from the group and recommends all new and experienced moms consider Mom’s MoBap Morning and MoBap’s Breastfeeding Support Group, even if they aren’t breastfeeding. “The advice I’ve received has been invaluable.”
Because of the success and convenience of the virtual support group, MoBap began offering the Breastfeeding Support Group in a hybrid format on November 1, 2022. Moms and their babies can either attend in-person or join virtually. In-person classes and support groups follow COVID-19 precautions, including masking, limited class size, social distancing and disinfecting.
Enjoying Every Milestone
Today, Kristina is celebrating Finnley’s and Caspian’s milestones. “Being a mom is exhausting and wonderful,” she said. “I’m thankful for MoBap’s Support Groups and the Infant Feeding Clinic. They provided me with a foundation of feeding knowledge and a network of moms going through similar emotions, triumphs and challenges.”
New Family Support
Infant Feeding Clinic – Any baby experiencing a feeding difficulty is welcome with a physician referral. The team of lactation-certified occupational therapists is NICU trained and is able to help infants with bottle and breastfeeding challenges to ensure they receive the nourishment to grow and develop. For more information, call 314-996-3500.
Breastfeeding Support Group – Visit with other breastfeeding mothers and their babies in a virtual or in-person meeting designed to be relaxed and supportive. Group participants ask questions and discuss various aspects of breastfeeding and lactation. Led by an international board-certified lactation consultant, these sessions will boost confidence, increase understanding of breastfeeding challenges and solutions, and lend ongoing support to nursing mothers.
Mom’s MoBap Morning – A new mother support group meets virtually or in-person each Tuesday morning to discuss newborn care and adjusting to life with a new baby. Every session is led by an experienced prenatal and postnatal educator who helps moms gain confidence and develop skills and lends support as they journey through the early weeks of mothering.
To learn more about classes and support groups, visit: mobapbaby.org/classes-support.