Breastfeeding: One Mom's Story

Posted on Sep 12th 2012 by sarah

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I am a breastfeeding advocate. The one, maybe only, thing I was sure of as I prepared to have a baby was that I wanted to breastfeed. I had daydreams of my baby and me cuddling in a sunny corner, me gazing lovingly into his eyes as he nursed happily away. Those dreams have since become a reality, but it wasn’t without a lot of tears, hard work, anxiety, a super-supportive husband and the help of two amazing lactation consultants.
"The biggesst myth surrounding breastfeeding is that it is easy."

The biggest myth surrounding breastfeeding is that it is easy. It’s not. Sure, some parts are easy and it may come more easily to some women and babies than others, but every woman that breastfeeds will tell you that it is not always easy. It is, in fact, a lot of work. There were many reasons I wanted to breastfeed and I will admit, some of those reasons were rooted in vanity (namely that you burn an average of 500 extra calories a day while breastfeeding… goodbye baby weight!). My main reason for wanting to breastfeed, however, was the opportunity to bond and provide for my baby in a way that only a mother can. It is what my body, and my baby’s body, was made to do. Prior to having my son Henry, I read everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding. I visited the La Leche League website, I perused the KellyMom.com site, I attended a breastfeeding class, I talked to friends, and I read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League International.  Henry and I spent the first hour after he was born skin-to-skin. Everything I had read and learned about breastfeeding stressed the importance of spending that first hour skin-to-skin with your baby and within seconds of his being born Henry was nestled on my chest. I say this because I thought I did everything right to ensure the best possible outcome for our first breastfeeding attempt, but it didn’t matter. Henry was a tongue-thruster and as hard as I tried to guide him to the breast and get him to latch on, we just couldn’t get the latch.
"It was one of the hardest times in my life"

Two days later we returned home. At this point my husband and I were finger-feeding our son and I was pumping every 2 hours for a minimum of 20 minutes to establish my milk supply. It was one of the hardest times in my life. We didn’t want to introduce a bottle because we were afraid it would cause further problems as we tried to teach our son to breastfeed.  Within 12 hours of being home we were back at our lactation consultant’s, having called her at the crack of dawn, me in tears, convinced my baby was going to starve. Fast forward eight weeks: Henry and I were now achieving a good latch 80% of the time. We had introduced a nipple shield to help him learn how to latch and it was the best thing we could have done. We were able to nurse successfully with the nipple shield which did wonders for my self-confidence which went a long way towards helping me stay committed to making breastfeeding work.  I was still pumping seven times a day for 20 to 30 minutes, including twice during the night. I had given up all romantic notions of breastfeeding. This was a job. The best job ever, but it was hard work. Henry is now almost 10 months old. We exclusively breastfed until he was six months old, when we introduced solids. He is still nursing six times a day when I am home and when I am at work I am pumping twice a day for 20 minutes and nursing before and after work.
"Breastfeeding is a commitment and it isn’t easy. But it’s worth it."

Being a breastfeeding working mom is really hard. Just being a breastfeeding mom is hard. Sometimes I really miss my freedom. I love to go for a run in the evenings during the summer, during that twilight hour just before dark. This summer that twilight hour I love so much was spent nursing my son to sleep. When he and I are together he doesn’t get a bottle – ever. I think one of the most important things you can do to maintain your milk supply is to put your baby to your breast as often as possible, to feed on cue and not according to a schedule. That means when Henry wakes up in the middle of the night because he is teething, or because he wants comfort, or because he is hungry because he is going through a growth spurt, I nurse him. The first thing I do when I get home from picking Henry up from day care is sit down and nurse him. The first thing I do when he wakes up in the morning is nurse him. Breastfeeding is a commitment and it isn’t easy. But it’s worth it. What was your experience with breastfeeding? Share your stories with us here.  And we welcome you to pin a photo of your children to our “Healthy Babies” Pinterest board.  

Filed under: Mind/Body/Soul  


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Comments

Sarah - I don't know the joy of having a child but what a great story and testament to staying committed to something so important - both for you and, ultimately, Henry. No sugar-coating or whitewashing of the details; but definitely, for those that desire to pursue this course, a real picture of the rewards of breastfeeding!

Thank you Janice! That means a lot.

The beginning of my story could not have been more different. Before I had my daughter I could have cared less about breastfeeding, thinking all of that bonding stuff was hooey. I am into health and nutrition and wanted the best for my child so I was determined to try my hardest to breastfeed and do anything in my power to make it work, but my hopes were not high. My goal was 6 months, but I never thought I would make it past two weeks. Before I gave birth I read the about the importance of skin to skin contact and about breastfeeding techniques. After a 30 + hour labor with some complications I couldn't even hold her, but when it was time to breastfeed it was like the most natural thing I had ever done. I knew what to do and so did she. I breastfed and worked for almost two years. I was reluctant to give it up. I loved it. The hardest part of giving it up was when she got her first cold after being weaned. I felt so powerless. Like I couldn't do anything to really help her, she was alone to fight. My daughter is 4 and I miss that quiet snuggling even now.

Sarah: Your commitment to not give up on breastfeeding and stay the course is encouraging and educational for present and future Moms. . Henry is the winner for a lifetime due to your diligence and hard work!! Wonderful story!!.

Andrea, thank you for sharing your story. The fact that you worked and nursed for two years is incredibly inspiring! I also hear you on how hard that first cold must have been after you stopped nursing. Being able to nurse Henry when he isn't feeling well or teething is a huge comfort to us both. Barbara, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement and support. It means so much to me.

Thanks Sarah for the great post. My wife is having our first child in February and we couldn't be more excited. I'm just trying to get as much information as possible. I love the idea of the baby and mother together, skin-to-skin, for the first hour. What an incredible bonding experience! Thanks again for the information

Hi Doug! I'm glad you enjoyed the post! More importantly, congratulations on your impending arrival! You are in for an amazing ride.

I desperately wanted to breastfeed my daughter. She was born by c-section and as soon as possible we did skin-to-skin contact and attempted to breast feed. We continued through our 3 day stay in the hospital. When I got out of the hospital my milk had still not come in. I would nurse my daughter, then pump for 20 minutes with my hospital rented pump. I never got more than a teaspoon of milk while pumping. Meanwhile my daughter was losing a lot of weight. I contacted a lactation consultant and began cluster feeding and pumping. We also went into the lactation consultant's office and fed and weighed the baby to see if she was getting any milk. Finally we had to suplement with formula due to the baby's weight loss. I continued nursing, then bottle feeding, then pumping for six weeks. I still never produced more than a teaspoon of milk when pumping. After six weeks we went to formula only. I never became engorged after stopping nursing. My daughter is now 8 years old and is incredibly healthy (she has had 4 sick child visits in her entire life) and is in the gifted program at school. So, in the end it all turned out well.

Hi Lisa. Your story is one of awesome commitment and love and dedication. I am so impressed and inspired by your efforts to breastfeed your daughter eight years ago. I know that must have been such an emotional roller coaster for you! Your daughter sounds like a real rock star and I totally agree, in the end it did all turn out well and that is what is important. I think ultimately what works for the parent and child is what is best for the parent and child. Thank you for sharing your story, I really appreciate it.

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