Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Take on Breastfeeding

There I was, holding my first baby after an unnecessary c-section. Disappointed with the delivery, I couldn't wait to nurse my son for the first time. First try, he latched! That was about the easiest nursing experience we had. From day one, I struggled with breastfeeding my son. Nurses encouraged me to pump, pump, pump! I did. I pumped until I thought my nipples would bleed away, or worse, fall completely off. Cracked, bleeding and sore, I was lost. What do I do? Why you supplement! You give your baby a bottle or two of formula, and you let your nipples heal. Really? I did just that. I "supplemented" and I offered my son bottle(s) I quickly realized this was NOT helping my latch issues. In a moment of frustration and a feeling of failure, I asked for help. Not the "give your baby a bottle" kind of help, but real help. A lactation consultant came to my room and helped me. Really, truly helped me. My son was latched, and I was feeding him from my sore, cracked, painful breasts.YES! I was told and led to believe that a bottle here and there was just fine. For me, this is what led me to troubles. While I nursed for about 90% of his feedings, I did turn to a bottle here and there. That worked out ok for a while. But eventually Tolliver realized that feeding from a bottle was faster and easier. He started to refuse the breast at about 5.5 months. He would scream and cry and have nothing to do with the breast when offered. What did I do? I offered him a bottle. Why? Because clearly he was starving and I wasn't producing enough. Ugh. So with this belief, I nursed when I could, and gave bottles when he wanted them. Eventually, he was on formula more often than the breast. I wasn't ready to stop nursing, but I also couldn't handle watching my son scream. It wasn't until much later that I realized that I set up my own failure by offering bottles. I promised myself I would do things much differently with baby #2, and I did. Holliday arrives after a legitimate emergency c-section. I offer the breast, he latches! I offer again, he latches! This boy loved the boob! The copious amounts of IV fluids swelled every inch of my body, and eventually the easy latch became difficult. This time, instead of fussing around, I called in the help of Daleen Bybee. At the time, Daleen was a local Le Leche League leader. I knew her as I would attend her meetings, but I had also began to know her on a slightly more personal level. I felt comfort in calling her in for encouragement and knowledge. She came in, helped me, and there we were, cruising along. I won't say it was easy from that moment on, but I will say that the outside advice and encouragement is what I needed. With work and commitment, we got it. When Holliday was about 5 months old I ran into health issues that required 2 unexpected surgeries. I was in the hospital for a week, and could only pump so much. My husband was forced to do some formula feedings. Argh. I was so scared things would end badly. After hitting the road to recovery I faced some serious supply issues. I pumped, and pumped and pumped. I ate ungodly amounts of Fenugreek, dug out my Domperidone prescription, and drank water until I thought I would drown. Frustration, failure, fear and anger are all emotions that engulfed me. What was I doing wrong? What am I to do? I am NOT giving up! Daleen picked up the phone and called to check in on us at the EXACT moment when we needed it. Once again, her encouraging words and advice saved me. She talked me through it, made me realize I was putting more stress than necessary on myself and that I could overcome this, if I wanted to. Dump the pump, enjoy the feedings and try not to stress. I did just that. I dumped the pump, put him on my breast every chance I had, and within a week, all was good! We were almost back to where we were, and I was SO grateful.

I can truly say that I LOVE breastfeeding. I love the closeness that it brings to me and my son. I love that I am the only one that can offer him that comfort. I love that it forces me to sit down and relax. I love that I am offering my child the absolute best that I can.... but it's not easy. It is a huge struggle. It's not something that with one attempt, you're a pro. We face our obstacles, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Not everyone takes advantage of the resources out there, but they should. I had a chance to pick Daleen's brain. I asked her some questions that I feel could help others along their journey.

What are 3 common misconceptions about breastfeeding?
-- It's easy!
-- There are no advantages after 6 months, or 6 days or 6 weeks....
-- What if I "can't" breastfeed? (less than 1%)

What are 3 common struggles mothers run into with breastfeeding?
-- pain
-- supply issues
-- infection or yeast (mastitis, plugged ducts, thrush, nipple trauma etc.)

What is the most common reason people turn to breastfeeding support coach?
-- Pain or supply issues "My baby isn't getting enough" or "I'm not making enough milk!"

The World Health Organization is recommending (and has for some time now) that women breastfeed for 2 years and beyond! Approx. 14% of women are breastfeeding at 6 months. Initiation rates are hight, but women quit without support and ACCURATE information!

LEARN about breastfeeding as a pregnant Mama, it's part of the "job" when the baby arrives, you'll be happy that you took the time to find out about it, so there arent so many surprises. Hang out with a breastfeeding friend. Go to a peer support group. Read a good book. "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" or "Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding" or "The Breastfeeding Book" by Dr. Sears are good books to start with!

If you are an online kinda gal, has a great search engine with AWESOME FAQ pages on all the topics mentioned here... and more!

Daleen Bybee
Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor
Birth Doula

I strongly encourage all women to turn for help when it's needed. There are so many available resources. I can truly say that the help and knowledge I received, is the exact reason I am still successfully breastfeeding Holliday today. I owe many thanks to Daleen for all of her support, and her true passion for breastfeeding.

Tammy, Connected Mom


Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Sounds like you had a 'fairy boob-mother' the second time around! I wish there was a way to ensure that ALL women have access to that kind of love and support in all parts of their lives, but especially something as important as breastfeeding!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Great story! Check out my blog about breastfeeding =)

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