What mothers are saying about GCBC
I knew once I got pregnant 4 years ago I wanted to breastfeed. Unfortunately, my baby dealt with low weight gain and I felt absolutely defeated. I was a first time mom, didn’t have prior education to breastfeeding besides what google provided, and I was overwhelmed. Luckily I had a very supportive family and most importantly a pediatrician that wanted me to breastfeed as much as I wanted to. She provided me with a referral to see Stephanie at Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center. Working with Stephanie saved my breastfeeding relationship with daughter. She is patient, attentive to small detail, and most importantly she genuinely cares. Once I stepped foot into Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center I felt a calming energy. I basically sensed HOPE. Stephanie went deep into my and baby’s history and was able to attend to my every concern and struggle. I left my consultation feeling reassured and CONFIDENT. I breastfed my first daughter up until she was 2 years old. I owe my success to Stephanie’s guidance and education. I recently gave birth to my second daughter late July. Even though I knew the breastfeeding essentials, I still reached out to Stephanie for help. Something about meeting with her would give me the reassurance and hope I wanted with this baby. I did breastfeed in the past, but I felt similar struggles with this baby that made me question whether I wanted to do this again. I met with Stephanie and it was just as enjoyable as the first time. THANK YOU, Stephanie, for being such an amazing person and giving me the confidence I felt I lacked with this journey. Any woman struggling or seeking education about breastfeeding, I recommend Stephanie at Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center
When Caleb was born, I initially thought that he was going to be a good nurser. It became clear by the time he was 24 hours old that that was not the case. He had a very shallow latch and was causing bruising and bleeding early on. I asked the pediatrician in the hospital to check for a tongue tie. At first glance, he said there was no restriction, but once the doctor felt under Caleb’s tongue, he noted a tie. He referred us to the ENT and we had his appointment a few days later. The ENT said that he had absolutely no oral restriction. I was relieved that it seemed that the struggles we had at the very beginning were likely just due to Caleb learning how to breastfeed. We continued nursing on demand, but he never seemed settled or satisfied. Little by little he began to resist nursing and would arch and cry once the let-down occurred. I tried multiple positions and different states of sleepiness to try and help him feel more comfortable but nothing worked. I finally reached out to Stephanie to see if she could give me any guidance on what was causing our issues. Because of COVID, we had to have a virtual appointment but she was still able to identify a tongue tie with significant oral restriction. She recommended seeing a pediatric dentist to have the tongue tie revised and gave me a few new things to try to help him to nurse more effectively and to feel more settled.
We started doing myofascial therapy and the therapist also noted very significant oral restriction that was causing torticollis. Caleb would improve with eating immediately following therapy, but by the next week, he would be back to where he started. Things progressively worsened and by his 2-month appointment, I had switched to exclusive pumping and had asked to see the ENT again. He reaffirmed his initial finding of no oral restriction. I was no longer willing to accept that as the truth. Caleb was doing better on a bottle but still struggled with taking in too much air. It was not sustainable for me to continue pumping while taking care of Caleb and my older son. I felt desperate because I wanted to continue nursing, but wasn’t sure how much longer I could maintain pumping. I was finally able to get an appointment for his revision in Louisiana. When we went in for his consultation with the speech therapist, she agreed with the finding of a significant anterior tongue tie in addition to an upper lip tie. She, along with the dentist, recommended the revision. The difference immediately after the surgery was incredible. He didn’t nurse, but the way he took the bottle was completely different. He no longer gulped down air and was able to drink much more efficiently. I continued pumping but attempted nursing at every feed. This was an important step to getting Caleb back to nursing but took twice as much time as before because I would attempt nursing, feed a bottle, and then pump. I was able to see Stephanie in person about a week after the surgery. We did a weighted feed and learned that he was still taking in very little. We continued attempting nursing before every feed and were diligent in doing his oral exercises to retrain him on how to swallow effectively. This coupled with weekly therapy, which now included feeding therapy, began to show progress. I discovered certain positions that Caleb preferred and was able to get him to nurse more and more before he would get frustrated and quit. About a week later, we were pumping less and nursing more. One day, I realized that I had not pumped in more than 24 hours. I was cautiously optimistic that we might be finally finished with the pump. I had to work very hard to make the environment just right for Caleb to nurse, but eventually, he got comfortable and would be able to nurse in any position. I went back to Stephanie for a follow up about a week after we had stopped pumping to do a weighted feed. I knew he was getting enough milk because he would sleep long stretches at night and was a much happier baby. He took 3 ounces on one side and an additional ounce on the other side. Stephanie and I were pleasantly surprised! As I write this, one month later, Caleb is nursing extremely well and is growing and meeting all of his developmental milestones. Without the support of our therapist and Stephanie, I am confident that at best we would still be pumping. All in all, I pumped for 9 weeks out of his first 3 months of life and every single session was completely worth it because of the fact that we have been nursing exclusively for 4 weeks. I cannot emphasize enough how integral Stephanie was in saving our nursing journey. I will be forever thankful for her and for the support and encouragement she gave me to continue fighting for what I thought best for Caleb.
I first met Stephanie in the hospital after I had my middle child. She was so understanding and caring and encouraging. I felt I had every issue that led me to call her often. She never made me feel like I was bothering her and somehow always knew exactly step by step how to help me. I nursed Ava for 14 months until I got pregnant with Eli. Of course, I wanted only Stephanie helping me. Having a lactation consultant is something I needed not only at the beginning but during and the end of nursing my babies. I would have never been able to nurse Eli for 16 months without her. We talked on the phone, I went and spent time in her office with the babies so she could what issues I was having and adjust me as she saw fit. In fact when I would tell her the age of my babies she told me what to be watching out for-down to the hour pretty much! I would recommend her hands down to anyone wanting to be successful at nursing. Our babies deserve it and so do we and she's the best!
I can not thank Stephanie enough for all she did for me. I attempted to nurse my first two children and was unable to. When I found out I was having a third child I knew I wanted to nurse her. I also knew I had to nurse her dairy and soy free as this is why I failed with my previous two attempts. Stephanie assisted me before my daughter was born and was there every step of the way after her birth. I called her at least once a week with a question or issue. Many times in tears. She always calmed me and made me know whatever I was doing I was a good mom. I nursed my daughter for 7 full months with her only having 3 bottles! At seven months I was medically forced to switched her to formula. I am so grateful that Stephanie gave me that time with my daughter. NOTHING replaces the bond that nursing provides a mother and a child.
In this lifetime, there are those sweet people that make a difference-the difference between whether you succeed and not fail. Stephanie will always be one of those people I will forever remember as being instrumental in helping me successfully breastfeed my babies. It was her gentle spirit, comforting words, listening ear, along with her wealth of knowledge that helped me get through a rough spot in my journey to nurse my baby.
There aren't many that truly give of themselves like Stephanie. She makes you feel like your needs and the needs of your little one is priority to her~once you meet Stephanie, you'll agree!
I had a very rough start in my journey of breastfeeding. When I had my oldest son I did not have any support breast-feeding I only made it three weeks before I had to change him to formula. I knew that I failed him but I would not make the same mistake again and I armed myself with knowledge. I met with Stephanie even before I went into the hospital to have my second baby and I told her what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. She was behind me 100%!! I ended up going back to work four weeks postpartum. That is when our struggles began but Stephanie was right there every step of the way whenever I called. I called a lot with every single question I had. After pumping for a couple of weeks and going to daycare he started to refuse my milk in a bottle and we could not figure out why until one day he stayed with my mother who smelled my milk and tasted it and noted that it was sour. I called Stephanie immediately and she told me I had high lipase and have what I needed to do to correct it and from then forward he did not have a problem. My goal was to make it to 12 months breast-feeding we are now 12 months+ and no signs of stopping anytime soon! If it weren't for Stephanie there is no way I would have made it beyond my goal. To go from breast-feeding my first to only three weeks to breast-feeding my second 2 1/2 years later to 12+ months is an achievement in itself and it was only achieved because of the support that Stephanie gave to me. Thank you so much for all that you have done for us and for all that you continue to do in your heart.
The Flaherty's Breastfeeding Journey
There are no words to express my gratitude to Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center. 2 months before my due date, I ended up going into preterm labor. Not only was I faced with fears and challenging of what might be with having my precious baby girl 2 months early, I was informed by the hospital staff that preemies in the NICU are only fed breastmilk during their hospital stay. If you the mother can't provide milk, donated breastmilk will be given to your baby. Now as a new mother, the thought of a stranger providing my baby with breastmilk was a fear and a blessing at the same time. I immediately contacted Stephanie from GCBC in a panic. I had attended one of her classes a couple of months prior and was very impressed with the information that they provided me. I had gone because I was tore between breastfeeding or not. Once I left the class, I knew without a doubt that I would definitely breastfeed. There was no other option for me after hearing all of the benefits breastmilk can provide my sweet baby. Breastfeeding can be a breeze for some women but for me it posed some great challenges. I felt as if you had to be a superhero to breastfeed. Although, there were plenty of highs and lows, I can't say enough about the support, resources, and dedication that GCBC provided me and my sweet baby during this breastfeeding journey. They were right there every step of the ways. I mean Stephanie was absolutely heaven sent. There was not one text or phone call that wasn't answered and believe me, as a new mother with a desire to breastfeed but problems kept arising; I had plenty of questions. Anything I needed to help me along the way, GCBC was there. I honestly would have given up months ago if it wasn't for GCBC's dedication to me and my baby having a successful breastfeeding journey. I can't thank them enough!
I met Stephanie after the birth of my first son in 2012. I met with her here and there for assistance and to the naked eye everything looked great. At 1 month old, after lots of crying and a baby still in newborn size clothes, I went back to find out he was more than 1 pound down from his birth weight. Fast forward through weeks and weeks of round the clock pumping, nursing, loads of Mother's Milk tea and anything else in creation to up supply that had dropped from a baby who didn't nurse well- I was done. And devastated. And I still didn't know why. Why couldn't he nurse? Why didn't he get the milk I knew I was producing? No one knew. I had mentioned tongue tie to a few different nurses/providers, and everyone said, "I don't think so. He's fine." Fast forward to November 2013. I gave birth to my second son and reconnected with Stephanie, though I didn't "need" her much this time around. My younger son was a champion nurser, so Stephanie and I became more personal friends at this point and I would visit occasionally just to catch up. During all this, my older son was now 2 and starting speech for a speech delay. Fast forward again, to May 2015. Stephanie reached out to me and basically said, "I've dedicated myself to learning all I can about lip and tongue ties and looking back, I'm convinced that's what is going on with Skyler and I just didn't know it back then. I'm willing to see him and evaluate if you're interested." I jumped on the chance, met with her mere days later and FINALLY after almost 3.5 years of wondering, had a diagnosis of a posterior tongue tie. I said, "what do we do now?" She said, "For now you just wait and know that's what is going on. And you wait until he's 5 and have it revised." I basically said, "I don't want to wait. I believe this is holding Skyler back in a huge way. What can we do?" She made a personal call to the provider whom she works with that revises ties and explained the situation, and asked if she would give us a chance even though Skyler was only not quite 3.5 yet. A week after she reached out to me saying it might be a tongue tie, we had Skyler's appointment and had his posterior tongue tie revised. Right now we're 7 months post revision and he has gone from 2-3 word sentences to full sentences 95% of the time. I used to not know why things happened the way they did in the beginning when Skyler was a newborn. I now know that I had to go through that rough experience because it was a learning lesson for both Stephanie and I. I don't know if we would have ever found out about his tongue tie if it hadn't been for Stephanie dedicating herself to being the best she could be. My struggles came full circle when in the middle of the week leading up to Skyler's tongue tie, Wyatt, my then 18 month old nursed for the very last time. I text her about the fact that my "baby" had just finished our nursing relationship because I knew she would understand. She had me in tears saying how proud she was of me and the great things I do for my babies. Stephanie has played a huge role in who I am as a mother and I am grateful for our friendship and I look forward to all I will learn from her in the future.
After 4 weeks of struggling with breastfeeding, and what seemed like endless doctor visits with no resultsor answers, I contacted Stephanie on a whim. While talking on the phone, I voiced all my concerns and breastfeeding difficulties. Stephanie was quick to make an appointment to help ease my concerns and breastfeeding troubles. During the first consultation I felt so comfortable. It was like catching up with an old friend. Stephanie confirmed my daughter had a tongue and lip tie. I was very determined to breastfeed but all the odds were against us. She helped my husband and I weigh the pros and cons of a revision. Never once did we feel pressured into a decision. Our daughter ended up having two revisions (6 weeks and 6 months). Every interaction with Stephanie has been a blessing. She is always eager to help. Stephanie’s passion is unbelievable, she has invested her time and energy into helping us thrive. Because of Stephanie’s support throughout the whole journey, we have been able to breastfeed for over 12 months. I have nothing but praise for Stephanie.
A few months before my son was due I took Stephanie's breastfeeding class. Based on the information I received I knew that I would breastfeed but was determined to only do it while I was on maternity leave. My son ended up being born 6 weeks early. I decided that since he was earlier than expected I extended that time to 6 months. I have to admit this was a long stressful journey. I had to call and text Stephanie many times for help and she always went above and beyond to assist me. She provided the support I needed to keep going. After I reached the 6 month goal every day after that I considered a blessing that I was still able to provide him the milk he needed. With a lot of help from Stephanie I was able to exceed a year of exclusively breastfeeding. She is amazing and I would suggest that anybody who is expecting or need more information on breastfeeding to contact her.
Skyler was born at almost 38 weeks, 7 lbs even, a scheduled
C-section because he was breech. Other than that, there were no complications. I was able to nurse him about 30 minutes after delivery and it was awkward, but I chalked it up to it being because a nurse brought him in and he was all swaddled up tight and she was trying to hold him up to me to nurse. It was just very awkward and forced and he wasn't having it. Through our days in the hospital I thought things were going well, I don't know. I was a first time mom, I didn't know what I was doing! He was born on a Friday afternoon so by the time I had him and had a chance to nurse him, all the lactation consultants were gone for the weekend. A few other nurses tried to help me over my time spent there, one gave me a nipple shield thinking that was the issue. I left the hospital Monday around lunch time, and I was able to see Stephanie before I left. It was the first time I met her. I recall her mentioning tongue tie vaguely, but thinking it looked fine. Basically, to anyone watching Skyler nurse, it looked great. He was latched, appeared to be nursing, etc. He basically looked like he was doing great. By the time I left the hospital my milk had definitely came in, so there were no worries there. We got home and Skyler just wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME. He never slept at night, just wanted to nurse. (Side note: Skyler is now 5 years old, so I'm going off my memory for some of these details.) I believe I took him in for a weight check and he had gained a couple ounces. I was pumping occasionally and giving him a bottle here and there, so that probably explains that. Fast forward to his 2 week check up. I was slightly worried about his weight, but I was a new mom, I didn't know anything. At this 2 week check up with a pediatrician whom I later ended up "firing", the nurse weighed Skyler with his clothes on. I questioned it and they said, "Clothes really don't weigh that much!" So at this point I thought he had gained another few ounces, but wasn't quite back up to birth weight, but was very very close. (At a later appointment with Stephanie, I asked her to weigh one of his outfits. If I remember right, it weight SIX ounces!! That's a lot for a newborn breastfed baby.) At this appointment, I also asked about a tongue tie and the pediatrician just brushed it off. I got the generic, "he looks fine" or "those don't really matter", something along those lines. At one month old, Skyler was so skinny, still barely fitting into 0-3 month clothes and crying and nursing ALL THE TIME. I couldn't take it anymore. That was a Sunday and first thing Monday morning I went to The Breastfeeding Center at the hospital where he was born. He weighed 5 lbs. 15 oz. I wanted to die. I felt AWFUL. I also remember asking the LC (it was not Stephanie) about a tongue tie yet again and being told she didn't think she saw one. She immediately called his pediatrician (who was shocked that Skyler had been weighed with his clothes on and said they don't do that) and told him the situation. I still to this day remember sitting on that couch holding my tiny 1 month old while she called the doctor and when she was told was with a patient said "I'll hold for him." Because I had a small supply of breastmilk in my freezer, he directed me to nurse, then supplement with the breastmilk, then pump round the clock every 3 hours until I could get my supply back up. (Although I later found out how close he was to admitting Skyler to the hospital when he found out how low his weight was.) When I ran out of that small freezer stash I had to start supplementing with formula. I was pumping such small amounts. Less than an ounce. I pumped every 3 hours, round the clock for almost 6 weeks, lived on Mother's Milk tea and Fenugreek and couldn't pump more than 2 oz. At one point during all this, I went in for a weight check. The LC weighed Skyler, I nursed him (for quite a long nursing session, if I recall) and we weighed him again to see how much he transferred. I was heartbroken that he only transferred a quarter of an ounce! When Skyler was almost 4 months old I gave up. I was tired, frustrated, feeling like a failure, and I just couldn't do it any more.
Over the next few weeks, Skyler became extremely constipated all the time. His pediatrician (the one who was later fired) brushed off all my concerns and just kept telling me to put Karo syrup in his bottles. It would work here and there, he would have a large bowel movement occasionally, but pooping was always a struggle for him. Finally at Skyler's 1 year check up, I said I wasn't leaving the office until he put in a referral to a GI specialist. We had an appointment within weeks. Turns out Skyler had a milk and soy intolerance (and was completely backed up with stool from the months and months of constant constipation.) I add this bit of information in even though I'm not certain it has anything to do with a tongue tie, I've heard tongue ties can sometimes cause GI issues so I wanted to include it.
In the time frame between this and Skyler turning 2, he got a new pediatrician. I asked her about the tongue tie thing, and to be honest, I don't even remember her looking.
Fast forward to 2 years old. Skyler has about a 2-3 word vocabulary and is referred for speech. He begins speech shortly after turning 2. It's having some effect, his vocab is expanding a little. Nothing earth shattering, but new words here and there. I asked his speech path about a tongue tie and she looked but didn't seem to know if he had one or not.
Skyler turns 3 and starts school. Again, he picks up some new words here and there but still has a very limited vocabulary for a 3 year old. At this time he has a new speech path so I ask her about his tongue tie. She also says she has looked and doesn't think he has one, but admittedly isn't extremely familiar with them. They also did a new speech evaluation on him and diagnosed him as "developmentally delayed" which broke my heart and I didn't agree with.
Around 3.5 years old, Stephanie reaches out to me in a facebook message and apologizes, and tells me that in the last year, she has dedicated herself 100% to learning all there is to learn about ties and oral restrictions. She says she's confident that's what I was dealing with with Skyler all those years ago but just didn't have the knowledge at that point to know exactly what it was. She said if I was the least bit interested in exploring it further she would be happy to meet with us. I jumped on that chance and met with her just a few days later, where she diagnosed Skyler with a posterior tongue tie. I asked, "What do we do now?" She said, "We basically wait." She went on to explain about the 1 dentist in the area she worked with for revisions, and how she doesn't do revisions for toddlers; only newborns and children 5 and over. I couldn't accept that answer. I knew in my heart that this is what was holding Skyler back in terms of his speech and its what gave him that inaccurate developmentally delayed diagnosis in speech. I basically begged Stephanie to please talk to the dentist and ask her to at least give us a chance. She did and told me the dentist was willing to try! I called and we had an appointment for the next week for revision! My head was spinning! In about a 5 day span, I went from living our regular life, to finding out Skyler had a tongue tie, to having a revision scheduled!!
With Stephanie's help and advice, I tried to prepare Skyler the best I could for his revision, since this particular dentist did not use sedation. I bought Skyler an electronic toothbrush so he could get used to the sensation and movement in his mouth. We played dentist. We took turns being the dentist and the patient. When I was the "dentist", I would feel all Skyler's teeth, his tongue, the top, the sides, underneath, I would touch his tie, etc. Then I let him do the same to me. We used a toy to pretend it was the gas mask and we would take turns being the dentist and giving the patient the "yummy smelling air" over their nose. On the day of his revision, he did AMAZING. He did get nervous and scared, but it was a quick procedure that went amazing!
Skyler didn't really love doing the stretches afterwards, but I got creative and was able to get him to do them rather frequently. Within 6 months, his vocabulary had improved immensely. He continued on in speech because although the volume of his vocab was improving, he was having trouble with enunciation. He had just spent 3.5 years of his life using a tongue that could only move in certain directions. Now he suddenly had this tongue that could go anywhere he wanted it to and he wasn't sure how to use that.
Skyler is now 5. He is in a whole new place, new school, new speech path. The first thing I did when he got to his new school was request a reevaluation which they happily performed. Mama knows best- He scored average and above average on all the developmental social aspects and shed that developmentally delayed diagnosis that I knew he never needed in the first place. He qualifies for speech only, which I am happy about. He does still need help with pronouncing certain letter sounds, but this kid does not stop talking. He will say anything and everything. Before his revision, part of every evaluation was always me guessing how many words he could or did say. It wasn't long after his revision that I had to stop counting. It was just too many to count. Now, a much shorter list would be what words can't he say!
I don't know where we would be today if it hadn't been for Stephanie reaching out to us. Every time I hear Skyler accomplish something new, pronounce a new letter sound, say a new complicated word, I am reminded how thankful I am that she stepped out of her comfort zone to do something to further her career. I'm sure it was scary for her, but there isn't one itty bitty teeny doubt in my mind that this is where she needs to be. I was honored when she asked me to type this up because even though our journey was sometimes sad, confusing, frustrating, lonely, upsetting and disappointing, it has helped people. And if I can use it to continue to help people, and to help Stephanie to help people, it was all worth it.
My husband and I attended Stephanie’s class two weeks before I gave birth to our little girl. We had heard from other parents how great her class and services were. She made us feel comfortable and important to her but most of all her class was very helpful and informative. We left feeling confident like we had all the tools necessary in order to be successful at breastfeeding. I contacted Stephanie with some questions once we got home from the hospital and she responded immediately and coached me through the issues we had. I would absolutely recommend to all expecting parents to take her class. I would not have had the success I had if I hadn’t attended her class and had her help.
I don’t know if there are enough spaces in this review to express how grateful I am to connect with Stephanie from GCBC! I am a mom of 5, 2 being 7 month old twin boys. We’ve had a doozy of a breastfeeding journey that has included them being preemies in the NICU, but our issues didn’t stop there....severe tongue and lip ties, low milk supply, weak muscles/unable to suck, reflux, not latching, not responding to pump, etc. and that just touches the surface. I was pretty much hopeless when a mutual Mississippi friend connected us on Facebook. I was blown away and cried after being able to talk to Stephanie over the phone (she called me on her vacation!) and she listened and wanted to help me. My husband and I drove from Birmingham to Mississippi Gulf Coast and I could have sat and talked and listened all day.
I learned so much from Stephanie and it was WELL worth the trip across the state to meet and have her access our twins and shed light on our situation. But most of all (as I tear up typing this), I went from feeling like a failure and like my babies preferred the bottle over me to realizing that they actually naturally WANT to breastfeed again but they both had things going on that hindered them from being able to do so effectively and efficiently. I left feeling so uplifted and hopeful that they will latch again but also just so happy that she was able to connect us with the right people to get them the help they needed to thrive and grow strong! I’m so proud of my boys and so thankful to know Stephanie. I’m forever grateful that she walks in the gifting the Lord gave her and helps so many.