I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with the response to Breastfeeding Tips from Seasoned Moms. It’s so very important that we share with each other and encourage one another in doing what’s best for mom and baby. Most of the time, breastfeeding can work. It’s those of you who have overcome incredible obstacles to make it work that inspire me!
Read on to be inspired by one such story from Nony.
I consider myself a breastfeeding champion.
Breastfeeding comes naturally for some new mothers. In the hospital, they can stay modest under a blanket and carry on a conversation while baby eats away.
For me, it was not natural. It was a long, hard, physically and emotionally exhausting fight. But we won, and I’m so glad, both for the victory . . . . and for the struggles.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I researched. I knew all about nipple confusion, engorgement, let-down, mustard-colored poo, football holds and sticking cabbage leaves in your bra. I took a class, I bought nursing pads, I had a boppy . . . I was ready. It might not be easy, but I felt confident that I had the information I needed to make a go of it.
What I didn’t know was that sometimes . . . it just doesn’t work the way the books say it will.
My son did “okay” in the hospital. He had some trouble latching on, but could eat for a few seconds at a time. It could only get better, right?
The night we came home from the hospital, my milk came in. I became engorged, and the little boy who already had a rough time latching on, couldn’t . . . and he was furious about it.
I couldn’t believe how much he resisted me. Who knew that there could be that much strength in an 8 lb. body? He quickly learned to curl up his tongue to avoid being sprayed in the back of the throat. This wasn’t going the way he wanted it to, and he wasn’t going to have any part of it. I literally had to use all of my strength to keep him at the breast.
The second night I was home, in utter despair, I gave him a 2 oz bottle that the hospital had sent home with us. He gulped it down, went right to sleep, and I lay in my bed and cried. I was a failure.
But I didn’t give up. I’m pretty sure that 2 oz. bottle was the only formula he ever had. And honestly, he needed it. The poor little guy couldn’t latch on, I’d tried every method I knew, it was the middle of the night, and he was starving.
We took him to the hospital at one week old. They weighed him, whispered among themselves, and then uttered the words “failure to thrive.” My heart stopped.
The “nursing specialist” came to help. I explained what had been going on, and she watched me nurse him. Her words, to be exact, were “You know, babies do just fine on formula.”
By this point, though, I was determined to succeed. I asked for help from everyone I knew who had babies. I was shocked to find out that my situation was not necessarily unique.
I was mad that no one had told me that it could be like this. I spent the first 2-3 weeks of motherhood feeling completely alone. Why is it that the only ones who ever talk to moms-to-be are the ones who can say, “Oh, it’s easy, he just latched right on!”?
We lived in a rural area, and there was no la Leche league or lactation consultants other than the (less than helpful) one at the hospital. My sweet husband happened to mention our struggles to a man whose wife worked for Early Childhood Intervention, and he suggested that we call them. They sent out . . . a speech therapist. Seriously, a speech therapist. She had a few suggestions for helping him learn to not curl his tongue, but mostly I think that just knowing someone was on my side helped me keep going.
The screaming went on for . . . a solid six-weeks. Every feeding session was a battle. I was completely worn out and cried more than he did. But then, at six-weeks, he got it . . . and he nursed for 13 months.
Though at the time I never thought I would say this, I’m glad we went through these struggles. I can say with total conviction that babies are born with minds of their own and distinct personalities. I learned so much in those six weeks that have helped me mother my son for the last 8 years.
Truly, this experience has helped me identify with all mothers who struggle with breastfeeding. I fully understand why many women give up, but I also know, from experience, that it’s worth keeping at it. Now, whenever I talk to a brand-new mom whom I know is breastfeeding, I share that I had a difficult time nursing my first, and that she can call me anytime for advice or encouragement. Even though I’m not a lactation specialist, I’m a mama who has been there, and maybe the thing that helped me most will be what helps her . . . knowing that others have been through this, and have made it work.
Nony nursed her three babies for over a year each. She has chosen to make her family her life’s work. She blogs about getting her home in order at A Slob Comes Clean.