I am a breastfeeding Momma. Before I even knew I wanted to have a child I knew I wanted to breastfeed. To me we make milk for a reason. The reason is that little life that we produce. Our milk is the healthiest treat that we can give to them. And boy, do they want it!!
I understand it is not every mother's desire to breastfeed. I understand that medically a small number of people cannot breastfeed. I do, however, wish every woman would give it a try before ruling it out.
I am one of those people that will scour the internet or read a bunch of books to get all of the information on a topic that I possibly can. I read (and my Husband did as well) a number of books on breastfeeding. I searched through many sites to find every possible ounce of knowledge I could on the subject. I attended La Leche League meetings and Bradley Birthing classes (with Hubby) from the time I was 4 months pregnant. I felt like I had a pretty solid foundation to get the process started. Not to mention a very strong and supportive group of women (and a Husband) who were very willing to help.
When my little girl was born I was so overwhelmed with many feelings but was 100% determined to nurse her as soon as she was in my arms. I tried. She seemed interested, but I was distracted by what the doctor was doing. I'll spare you the details. I handed her to my Husband who went with the nurse to thoroughly check out our beautiful little lady. We were blessed to know that she was, in fact, given a perfect bill of health. After I was all cleaned up and in the room that would be our home for the next two days I finally got to see that little bundle again!!
Of course I wanted to try nursing her again as soon as I had her near me. We tried a few times. She latched on and gave a few hearty sucks, then stopped. I knew it would be a learning process for us both so I didn't want to push her too hard. Plus the little one was so tired. We tried to feed a number of more times. Each time she seemed to get a little better, but just not as good as I had expected the process to go. I gladly took the advice of the nursing staff when they asked if I needed help. After showing them what we were doing they all said things were going well. I felt so great about it all, thanks to their encouragement, that when the lactation consultant came to visit as we were getting discharged we talked about things not involving breastfeeding.
The following day when we took our daughter to the pediatrician he showed concern for her color. She was a little orange, but to us, jaundice is totally normal in breastfed babies. She had been tested several times at the hospital before we left with no worries. He wanted her tested again. So, reluctantly, we did. It is so hard to know your little one is going to really hate what you are about to allow happen to them. Well, the test came back a little high, but not alarming. Either way the doctor wanted us to take her in and undergo light therapy.
When we got to the hospital they were planning on giving me a bed to sleep on so I could be there all night to nurse her. My husband was permitted to stay as well. The shortest version possible is that the "bed" I was given was a slab of wood with a sheet on it. My Husband slept on the three feet of floor space we had available beside our daughter's bed. We didn't even have a chair. Our baby girl screamed through most of the night. She hated having the protective coverings on her eyes. Can't say that I blame her it had to be so scary. We were not encouraged to pick her up and take her out from under the lights so for most of the night we just got to listen to her howl. So much so that she eventually lost her voice. The staff was concerned at how often we were feeding her so they told us we had to nurse her every two hours (she was on a consistent every three hours schedule for the first three days of her life). After the first two feedings she refused to nurse. The staff brought me a pump so that we could measure her milk intake. I declined using the bottles that they brought us. Instead we fed her with a dropper. By the morning my Husband and I were completely exhausted and our daughter would not latch on to my breast at all.
After a very heated conversation with the head of the medical staff at the hospital a lactation consultant showed up in our "room." She immediately handed me a nipple shield and showed me a different hold (I was extremely full and her little mouth didn't have much to grab on to). Things worked exactly how they were supposed to instantly! From that point on she ate like a champ (every three hours)!
The next seven weeks I tried very hard to get my daughter to latch on to my breast without the nipple shield. It was frustrating for everyone. She cried. I cried. My Husband tried intervening. I called the leader of our La Leche League group about five times asking what I as doing wrong. She continually encouraged me to keep trying. She suggested trying to nurse her without the shield in between our regular feedings, starting with the shield and removing it halfway through the feeding and vice versa. She relayed stories to me about past experiences of others and their trials with discontinuing the use of the nipple shield. I tried harder and with more patience for the health of my daughter. Finally, after weeks and weeks of struggle she took my breast without the shield!!!
During one of my first meetings at La Leche League one of the mothers told me, "You just have to get past your hardest day." I am so thankful for that piece of advice. I kept repeating it over and over during those very difficult times reminding myself how important breastfeeding was to all of us involved. I have since had the opportunity to pass on that very wise information to other mothers who are going through problems of their own with nursing.
For us, breastfeeding has been a wonderful experience. My daughter has almost tripled her birth weight at 5 months old all because of the milk I have produced for her! I look forward to each feeding now and cherish those moments as the very special times that they are. I hope to continue this beautiful act with my young one until she decides to stop. At which point I may have "to get past the hardest day."
What have your experiences been with feeding your newborn? Did you have difficult times?