Thursday, August 7, 2014

Overcoming Breastfeeding Obstacles: Sorting Through All of the Information

Throughout the past week I have been honored to use my blog as a platform to share the stories of nine other moms and their breastfeeding success.  I hope that this series can be a resource for moms that are struggling with breastfeeding or moms looking to breastfeed. Mostly I am glad to celebrate their success!!I originally didn't plan on sharing my story but in the end it didn't seem fair not to so here it is.
I'm a researcher, my husband and I joke that sometimes we research ourselves to the point of indecision, but when I was pregnant one decision was easy, I wanted to breastfeed my baby.  My mom breastfed me and my sisters and all of my research pointed to "Breast is Best".  To prepare myself for success I did all of the right things: I read books (I highly recommend The Nursing Mothers Companion), my husband and I attended a breastfeeding class (he was the only guy in the whole class!), I watched YouTube videos and I talked to other moms who had successfully breastfed.  I'll never forget during one of my OB visits while talking with my doctor about how important breastfeeding was to me she told me "Breastfeeding is 95% maternal determination", three years later that still stays with me. 
Despite all of my research, determination and preparation breastfeeding didn't come easy to me.  My first daughter was induced 2 weeks prior to her EDD due to suspected Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and it took her almost two weeks before she latched at all and almost a month before she latched properly.  I sought out Lactation Consultants while in the hospital, after leaving the hospital, through my employer sponsored LC phone program and no one could help me.  From all of the LCs that I contacted no one was able to really help me and I actually felt that they gave me a lot of bad information like "your baby is just too tiny to breastfeed".  This was all really discouraging to me and I spent the first two weeks of her life pumping and bottle feeding her.  THEN my sister came down to visit and everything changed.  My sister is a NICU nurse so she has a lot of experience getting even the tiniest of babies to breastfeed and she was able to get us up and going within a day.  Over the next few weeks it still took some adjusting to get the right hold, positioning, etc so that we had a good latch but I cried tears of joy the first time my sweet Claire nursed!  My next problem was that after pumping so much my body was in serious overproduction mode.  Ever Lactation Consultant I talked to told me not to quit pumping or else my supply would go down, which is the most terrifying thing any nursing mother could hear.  Of course I figured out later, I wanted my supply to go down and that my body was smart enough to regular down to just what my baby needed.  I started just pumping to comfort and holding out as long as possible without pumping and within a few days I was "off" the pump!  We had a great nursing relationship from then on and she successfully breastfed until she was almost a year old.  We would have gone longer but by her first birthday I was 16 weeks pregnant and my milk had completely dried up.
With my second daughter things seemed to be easy from the beginning and she even crawled up to my breast to nurse the first time she was placed on my chest.  The second time around was much easier but I did still have problems getting a good latch and I suffered from blistered, cracked and bleeding nipples for a few weeks.  Every time she latched I would cry in pain and every 2-3 hours I would just dread that she was about to want to eat.  Thankfully we just keep working on the latch.  I realized that my problem was that she would start out good and then get tired and lazy so she would start sliding off the nipple.  This was causing the blisters which was in turn causing the other problems.  I figured out that if I held her head more firmly while nursing that she would keep her good latch longer.  I loved nursing my second daughter and we continued until she was almost 16 months old.
After all the stories this week there are just a few things that I want to make sure each reader hears:
1. You CAN do it, there may be obstacles but as you have seen over the past week most of them can be overcome.
2. Trust your body and it's amazing abilities. 
3. Seek out help from family and friends.  I know it can be awkward to see a friends boobs (or show them yours), but how else are we going to help each other.
4. Help other moms!  Only through the sharing of our experiences can we all have more success!
Thanks for a great World Breastfeeding Week 2014!
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