Lactation consultant offers new hope to breastfeeding mother

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – When Kristen James delivered her first child at Berkeley Medical Center in November 2018, she was excited, and a little nervous, to breastfeed her new baby. She took advantage of the resources available during her stay in the Mother/Baby Unit and was thrilled to find that she had no trouble nursing her newborn. James left the hospital feeling confident, but a few days later she began to experience painful complications.

“I was doing everything I was taught, but something just wasn’t right,” James said. “I tried to tough it out, but the pain became overwhelming. When my baby began to refuse my left breast, I knew I needed help.”

James looked through her hospital discharge folder and found information about Berkeley Medical Center’s outpatient services for new mothers. The same lactation consultant who had provided guidance to her in the hospital was available to meet and assess the issue.

James met with Julie Oswald, lactation consultant, a few days later. Almost immediately, Oswald was able to help identify the problem and offer relief.

“I noticed signs and symptoms associated with mastitis and a plugged duct,” Oswald said. “I contacted her OB right away to evaluate and we worked on latch techniques and massage to address the plugged duct. These conditions can make breastfeeding incredibly painful. In Kristen’s case, an antibiotic was necessary to treat the infection.”

Now with the pain under control, Oswald turned her attention to a second complication. James’ milk supply was very low. Oswald offered immediate advice to help increase her supply and suggested that the two meet weekly to monitor progress. When James began to see a steady improvement, Oswald referred her to the hospital’s weekly Wednesday Latch Check group where they would continue to work together and make corrections as necessary.

“Follow up lactation support is so important,” Oswald said. “Many times the root of the problem is a poor latch. Correcting the latch can prevent nipple damage and greatly improve milk transfer.”

Oswald was able to work with James for a total of nine weeks and catch potential issues before she began to experience additional complications. Together they determined that her new pump was not fully emptying the breast which contributed to reoccurring plugged ducts. After James began using a different pump as suggested, she began to see a dramatic improvement.

Eight months have passed since her first meeting with the lactation consultant and James is still successfully breastfeeding her baby.

“I can’t begin to tell you how important this resource is for new moms,” James said. “If it wasn’t for Julie, I might have had to quit nursing due to the pain and low supply. Working with a lactation consultant gave me new hope that successful breastfeeding was a possibility for me.”

Wednesday Latch Checks are held at 10:30 a.m. in the Dorothy McCormack Center 2nd floor conference room. For more information, contact Julie Oswald at

–WVU Medicine—

For more information:

Chelsie Davis, Communications Specialist, 304-596-6327,  


TEM:  8-1-19