Breastfeeding Stories - My Beautiful Breastfeeding Journey
I decided to breastfeed for many reasons, but the two biggest reasons were the health of my child and the money I would save doing it. I am sure that seeing pictures of my mom breastfeeding me as a baby highly influenced my decision, and my husband was very supportive, as well.
In preparation for my new role as a breastfeeding mother, I did a lot of
research on the internet, bought numerous books
on the subject, and read as many message boards as I could get my eyes on!
Still, I was not as prepared
as I would have liked to be - reading about breastfeeding is quite different
from doing it!
I had prepared for a natural childbirth, and unfortunately had to be induced with Cervidil and Pitocin. The labor was hard, but I was able to get through it without pain medication. My son was born with his cord wrapped tightly around his neck and body - four times! Since he was so blue, he was not immediately handed to me to establish our nursing relationship; the nurses had to make sure he was breathing first. They worked fast and then laid my little boy in my arms, helping him to latch onto my breast.
Jack loved breastfeeding from the start. On the second night of his life, he nursed for three hours straight, and cried if I unlatched him.
After those three hours, I finally got up to use the bathroom and Jack started to cry again. Our nurse came in and took charge - she convinced us that she should take the baby out of the room and use a pacifier or a bottle of formula to calm him down. I argued initially and then, worn down, agreed. As she left the room with my baby, I bawled and then curled up to sleep.
I awoke a few hours later when the nurse returned with Jack, who was asleep
after crying and receiving a half-ounce of formula, so that she could tend
to another baby. I have rarely before felt such bitterness toward another
person. Tucking my son into bed beside me, sore from labor, I felt betrayed
by a woman who had convinced me that my son needed something other than me.
I can't express how much I regret that night. I was determined not to repeat
that mistake in the future.
We did not see a lactation consultant until the afternoon of the second day in the hospital. By then, my nipples were ravaged. My lactation consultant told me I had flat nipples, making it difficult for my son to get a deep enough latch. We did the best we could, and used a nipple shield when I could not establish a good latch.
It took three days for my milk to come in fully. By that time, I was struggling with thrush (due to antibiotics during labor), engorgement, and raw bleeding nipples. I hated breastfeeding, and my son seemingly nursed non-stop. I cried every time he latched on. The books all told me that an average nursing session lasted 30-45 minutes, but my son would nurse for hours. I cursed the books and doggedly kept going (I'm nothing if not stubborn).
When Jack was 10 days old, we visited a breastfeeding
support group. It changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but hearing
the stories from other
mothers, especially those women who were going through the same things or
even experiencing much worse problems, changed my perspective completely.
We weighed my son and I learned that he had gained two pounds since leaving
the hospital 10 days before! I felt proud that even though we were experiencing
trouble, my son was thriving on my milk. It gave me the motivation to keep
Armed with the support of the group that met weekly, and remedies for thrush and raw nipples, I kept nursing. It took months to rid myself of thrush (the only thing that worked for me was a combination of acidophilus supplements, a vinegar wash, and disposable nursing pads to keep my nipples dry). I made sure to focus on proper latching techniques, and I memorized everything on KellyMom.com. When my son continued to nurse frequently and began having runny green stools, I sought out the iVillage lactation consultant message boards, where I discovered rather quickly that I had an oversupply of milk. On the advice of the women there, I started block feeding. Not only did my son's digestion improve, but he stayed satisfied longer.
I returned to work when my son was 6 weeks old. By this time, we had turned a corner and breastfeeding was going much more smoothly. At work I pumped three times per day. My abundant milk supply has made pumping easy but because the breastpump is not as efficient as a nursing baby, I have had my fair share of plugged ducts and mastitis. These things just seem to come with the territory of oversupply.
By the time Jack was 5 months old, I had stored 150 ounces of milk stashed in my freezer. I donated nearly all of it to a new mom in my community who was experiencing low supply. I continued to donate fresh milk to her and her baby on a weekly basis for 7 months. Between local moms donating, the small amount of milk she produced, and milk from the milk bank, this mom has been able to keep her child on breastmilk without supplementing with formula. Her son has thrived, and I feel proud that I have helped contribute to his health!
Jack is turning one year old in a week, and he weighs 25 pounds, which means
he wears 24m clothing! He has taken slowly to solids,
and milk is still the primary source of his nutrition. He is wonderfully healthy,
and the happiest baby I've ever met. He now wiggles and pinches and stands
while nursing. It is one more challenge to overcome in our nursing relationship
- a relationship that I expect will continue until Jack decides he is ready
to cut the ties to his babyhood. When he does stop
nursing, I can honestly say I will miss it!
Visit Crystal's website at http://EwokMama.wordpress.com.
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