Breastfeeding 101-my own personal story
I have four children seven and under all of whom I have nursed until they were at least a year old. My youngest is 15 months, and she is still nursing strong. This is my longest period of nursing yet, and I'm excited about it!
Nursing is so easy for me now, but I will never forget the struggle I had in getting started.
My Mother unfortunately could never nurse her babies due to a medicine she was on. She tried with my brother, and he slept so much for a week that the Doctor said the medicine was going to his system. So we were all bottle fed. I was the youngest and really had little experience seeing anyone actually nursing their babies. There were two ladies I was around who did nurse when I was in high school, and that was it. I was determined to do it though, and really didn't worry very much about it.
I had a relatively good labour with my first child. Besides having some back labour, and the birth pool we were using developing a leak, all went well and I was the blessed mother of a little boy. After he was born, I clumsily tried getting him to nurse, and my midwife helped me a little. We snuggled in bed for about two hours - before his crying began. At 2 AM I found myself in a rocking chair with him not really knowing what to do. Thus began crying spells which lasted for the first four months of his little life, at least.
When I went to our one week checkup, they were a bit concerned as he had lost weight, and told me to keep nursing him well. My milk had come in quickly after giving birth, so I knew that there was something there for him! At our two week checkup he was still losing weight. The goal is for a baby to regain his birth weight by two weeks. The midwife's office that I was using had a special scale where you could weigh your baby, then nurse and weigh the baby again. It was supposed to measure how many ounces your baby had just received while nursing. After nursing my son, it showed that he had not gained anything.
It was a sad drive home, as I was crying and trying to not be overwhelmed. Words like formula and supplement were floating through my head. That was a road I very much did not want to go down.
What I did next I know some of you will think of as pretty strange. I admit I was desperate! I called a friend of mine who was nursing her little boy who was 5 months old. She came over and I watched her as she put my little boy to her breast and nursed him. She told me that he had a good suck, and seemed like he was getting milk. That depressed me even more! I understood from this that it was all my fault!
For three days after my friend nursed my son he was extremely constipated. Every night he would scream for hours and I would walk back and forth in our little house with him, delirious myself. All I wanted was to sleep. Finally we gave him something, and it relived him of his constipation. But he still wasn't gaining any weight.
I went to a La Leche Leauge meeting with a friend, and while they tried to help me with his latch, etc. even they didn't really know why he wasn't gaining.
At this point my midwife was insistent that we supplement him with formula. My Dad came over one night after work and brought me to Baby's R Us where I purchased a can of formula and a bottle. When I got home, I read the back of the label and the first ingredient on there was corn syrup. There was no way I was giving that to my baby!
Here is where I started trusting my own mother's intuition. Instead of giving him formula, I talked to my midwife and told her I was going to try some goats milk. She reluctantly agreed, and so we picked up some powdered goat milk at a health food store, put it in a bottle, and watched my son eagerly drink it all up. That showed us that he really wasn't getting enough milk for sure.
The next day he seemed to be a bit more alert, and I nursed him a lot. I don't remember offering him anymore of the goats milk, we just kept nursing. Finally, at three weeks I went back to my midwife, weighed him on the special scale and then nursed him. Praise the Lord, he had gained 3 ounces while I nursed him! It was the turning point for me. Just to know that I had actually successfully nursed him was crucial for my confidence. From that day on, he continued to gain and we didn't have any more problems. In fact, he grew to be a very healthy, chubby little boy!
My oldest as a happy little boy-he is now seven!
I've never had nursing problems with my other three children. I still don't exactly know what caused all of those problems, other than maybe I just couldn't relax enough for my milk to flow well? I share this because hopefully it will encourage another Mom to keep going, even if it is discouraging and difficult for a few weeks.
I do know that there are truly times to supplement, and if you have to do so, know that your child will be alright :) Trust your intuition when it comes to mothering your child. God gave you that child and will give you the knowledge you need to nourish him raise him up right.
Some of my Favorite Nursing Products
My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow. By far, the best nursing pillow I have used. It supports my back and arms while nursing, and I use it frequently when I have a newborn.
Lansinoh Lanolin is very soothing for the first month when everything is tender. Can help sooth and heal cracked and sore nipples. Just apply it right before nursing, it doesn't harm the baby at all.
Cotton Nursing Pads are a must. I use these the first few months while my milk is in overabundance mode. :)
Anita Nursing Bras are far better than the $20 bras you can buy at Target or Motherhood Maternity Store. They have held up really well for me, and are comfortable!
A good nursing cover is essential. I use mine whenever I am out, and really helps me stay modest and decent while in a group of people.
The Nursing Mother's Herbal book has been a book I turn to frequently. If you take herbs of any sort, this book has a breakdown of how safe the herb is to take while nursing. It also has many ideas for producing more milk, solutions to common nursing problems, post-partum depression help, and more.
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