Thursday, April 14, 2011

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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At April 14, 2011 at 11:19 AM , Blogger Christine said...

I love this post. I have four children, eight and under, and I have nursed all of them at least 18 months before they weaned. (Except for my youngest, who is 13 months, and still nursing.) I nursed my eldest till she was 18 months, my son till he was 20 months, and my thirdborn till she was 27 months. I love extended nursing; I love nursing during the infant stage, but my favorite time is from one to two years of age. There is something so sweet about nursing a one year old, who has just gotten a boo boo and needs some comfort.I marvel at the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child. Blessings!

At April 14, 2011 at 11:45 AM , Blogger JennyMay said...

Great of the best times in life was when I was able to breast feed my three children.

At April 14, 2011 at 11:52 AM , Blogger Sarah said...

Thank you for this post...

I have struggled to nurse all three of my children despite having a good latch (so I've often been told) I find nursing in the early days extremely painful, though never had any cracking or bleeding? I have tearfully given up a few days in and continued to express for about a month before my milk supply starts to drop and we begin to supplement. These negative nursing experiences have disheartned me greatly as I would love to nurse my babies! Thank you again! This gives me hope of trying and succeeding in nursing any more children!

At April 14, 2011 at 1:26 PM , Blogger Katie said...

Thank you for this post, it was very encouraging. With my first child I was never able to really nurse, part of it was I had to have a c-section and wasn’t allowed to try to nurse immediately, and I think I was an extremely nervous first-time mama. The other was that (which I didn’t find out till after he was born) that I have flat nipples. One day I came across the Avent Niplette, and decided to give it a try, since we would be trying for another baby when my husband came home from his deployment. I tried it and have seen a vast improvement so far! I’m not expecting yet, but Lord willing it will be soon, and I hope and pray that nursing will go much better next time.
Here's where I bought mine:

At April 14, 2011 at 1:49 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

@ Katie, I have a friend who has gone through problems with flat nipples. She worked with a lactation consultant who really helped her learn how to nurse.

At April 14, 2011 at 2:13 PM , Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks for this post!
I had to struggle a lot to nurse my oldest daughter (she is 7, too). We had similar problems, she did not drank a lot and didn't add weight. But after a few weeks we got it and I nursed her till she was 20 months.
My son was easy to nurse, everthing was fine. But my youngest daughter didn't want to drink and we had a few hard days. Now she is still nursing a bit, although she is 22 months old.
I also like the Anita-Nursing-Bras and if I will have a fourth child I would like to have this nursing cover. Do you send them even to Germany?

At April 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

@ Stephanie,

I'm glad that you were able to overcome your nursing problems!

We can ship the nursing cover to Germany, the shipping might just be a bit more. :-)

At April 14, 2011 at 3:12 PM , Blogger Stephanie said...

Hi Caroline!
Good to know! But first I have to be pregnant again....


At April 14, 2011 at 4:54 PM , Blogger Miranda said...

I loved this post and I also really apprieciated the comments. I also have flat nipples and my first was fed on formula. So although corn syrup might be the first ingredient, I'm just so glad I still had something to feed her.

At April 14, 2011 at 5:10 PM , Anonymous Hannah said...

I'm glad you were able to work through your rough problems, and didn't give up. Nursing is such a blessing!

I lived among some very "crunchy" mothers for several years, who saw no problem whipping out a boob in public, with no thoughts of modesty. I agree it's our right to nurse our children, but modesty should factor in there as well.

Now, I am living temporarily around family members, who are Christians, yet view nursing as something embarrassing, something not to be talked about, and I'm sure they would prefer I quit doing it so they wouldn't have to think about it. It is so frustrating! I love my sister and feel so sorry for her and her children. She has no idea what blessings she's missed.

I am currently nursing my fifth child, who will be 2 years old this summer. All of my children nursed until about 2 years, and basically weaned themselves at that point.

Thanks for the lovely post! It is so nice to know there are other Christian mothers who share my views.

At April 14, 2011 at 8:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience with my 7th and 9th babies. Number 7 was discovered to have a high palate and had a difficult time pushing the nipple up, I pumped for 6 weeks until she finally caught on. Number 9 never learned to suck properly, we had LLL consultants, midwife, doctors all try to help to no avail. I pumped for 10 agonizing months only to have her gain weight very, very slowly. In my hind-sight research I believe she wasn't getting enough hindmilk, only foremilk, she is still a teeny-tiny little girl at 18 months now. I did put her on formula and am now longer the nursing only Nazi I used to be. If I had to do it over again, I would never have pumped so long, it was such a strain on our family(pump went with me everywhere, so many late nights at gas stations pumping, trying to find places to warm milk brought, screaming baby while I pumped furiously, etc...) and wasn't as productive as I had hoped. Formula is not an evil, it is not preferred but thank God we have that option. I had so much remorse for looking down on moms who said they tried to nurse and couldn't, here I was with #9, nursing should be a breeze!

At April 14, 2011 at 9:16 PM , Blogger Jessica Heights said...

What a great story...I love hearing about breastfeeding success!

I had to stop nursing my first three babies around four or five months...I thought that I wasn't producing enough, but in truth, I think I wasn't relying on my intuition {as you said} enough!

My youngest is now almost seven months, and we're still going strong! :)

At April 14, 2011 at 9:50 PM , Blogger Caroline said...

@ Anonymous- It sounds like you had a rough time! I TOTALLY agree that there is a place for formula, and I'm glad there are options out there! I just am saddened when I hear so many moms give up the first week, because of problems that come up. The first month can be hard, but most of the time you can push through the problems.

I by no means want to make anyone feel guilty over using formula if they have to, I simply want to encourage those who are unsure if they can breastfeed that many times it is possible to overcome the problems. :)

At April 15, 2011 at 12:28 AM , Blogger Rachel said...

I absolutely love nursing stories! I had problems nursing my first (don't think I was patient enough at the time, but still managed 3 months of it), with my second, she was a trooper and I was determined. She nursed for 18 months and then I weaned her. My third nursed for 16 months and he weaned himself :( and now my fourth is 14 months and she is going strong, don't plan on ever weaning again! Although with this one, we had a rocky start with her losing weight at her 2 week check up as can read about that at my blog :)
Also, thanks for posting the book about herbs that are OK to take while nursing. I have often wondered which ones are OK. We use herbs around here and if I get a cold I load up on elderberry, fenugreek, and oil of oregano. I have a friend that knows a lot about herbs, so I usually ask her which ones are OK, but I am definitely interested in the book! Thanks!

At April 15, 2011 at 4:49 PM , Blogger Mama Chocolate said...

Thanks for this post! I'm always trying to encourage new moms to stick with it, too.
I have a *very* similar story to your's with my first also, except it took so long to get her to gain weight that my midwife suggested we get a doctor to check her out because sometime lack of weight gain can mean heart defects! Yikes!
Fortunately that wasn't it, she was just a "lazy" nurser, and by 8 weeks, I *finally* felt like we were "there."
I pumped a lot to get my milk supply back up, (it dropped while we didn't know what was going on,) and was able to give some of my pumped milk to my sister in law who had a baby with almost identical nursing problems 4 weeks later!
We both just recently had second daughters and they both are nursing great and didn't have near the rocky starts of our firsts.
I think it's just rough as a first-time mom having no clue what you're doing and I think your body is trying to figure it out too.
Obviously there are the baby's issues factored in there, too, as "Anonymous" pointed out.

At April 16, 2011 at 10:20 AM , Anonymous jenni said...

Did most of you get pregnant while bf? My baby just turned one and is still nursing (although her teeth are killing me) I keep debating on weaning so that it might increase our chances in having another or just letting her wean herself. Those who let them wean theirselves did you give them anything else to drink after the age of 1? Whole milk? Juice? I still get up to feed her when she cries out at night. Do all of your babies sleep through the night by one? First time mama and I have a lot of questions. I'm not surrounded by people who are breastfeeders!

At April 18, 2011 at 7:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


while I totally agree that we should stay modest when breastfeeding our children in public, I don't think it's necessary with a blanket to cover up though...most nursing wear allow you to open just a small space in the shirt or blouse, enough to just get the breast free and into baby's mouth - which then covers the whole thing. With just a little practice, the movement can be done in no time and noone will notice a thing, unless maybe someone would be specifically and voluntarily staring at you :-) (which would be rude and that persons problem, not ours!)

I think using a blanket can be overdoing it just a bit, and actually promotes the thought that there is something to hide in breastfeeding, which there's not - if the mom just takes care of how she does it.

But I suppose this could be cultural (I'm from Europe...)


At April 27, 2011 at 3:19 AM , Blogger Sandra said...

Nice post. You should prefer breast feeding rather than giving your child processed milk. It's always important to take care of their health. Thanks for that information.
-Buy Vega

At February 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM , Blogger SimmonsSoyCandles said...

This was a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing. I have tried nirsing with all 3 of my children and gave up after the bleeding and severe pain had set it, but I do plan to follow through with it this go round and am very excited about it. I have the LLL's book and have heard many good reports about My Brest Friend nursing pillow. I was the one who used a Boppy and hated it. Thank you so much for all of your advise.


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