Mama Knows Breast

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World Breastfeeding Week Book Contest — An Additional Winner

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Here is one additional winner of my book contest …. Erica of NY, NY sent me her breastfeeding story, and as a prize she’ll receive a copy of “Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding.” Here’s Erica’s tory:

Thank you, Elizabeth (the August 1st winner), for dispelling the myth that every mother is born with confidence and maternal instincts, and for sharing your journey to achieving both. My journey began 12 weeks ago when my husband and I brought into the world a beautiful, healthy, baby boy. Weighing-in at 8 pounds, 8.8 ounces, our son was also quite robust. The pictures of his first bath still make me laugh – his eyes mere slits above his chubby little cheeks. My husband and I knew we wanted to breastfeed our baby, so from the moment our son latched onto my breast in the operating room, I had the terrifying responsibility of being responsible for his nutrition.
Within 48 hours, his weight started to drop. His security bracelet, at first snug around his ankle, readily began falling off. This should have been the first indicator of the weight loss, but we missed this obvious sign. By day three, our baby’s weight loss had dropped over 10%, and the pediatrician instructed us to start supplementing the breastfeeding with formula by using a supplemental nursing system (SNS). Although my husband and I were disappointed that my breastmilk was not providing our baby with the calories he needed, our primary and immediate concern was our baby’s health. So without hesitation, at 12:00 a.m., we filled up the SNS with formula, taped the feeding tube onto my breast, and tried supplementing with formula while I was nursing. The SNS is an amazing way to supplement with formula while establishing breastfeeding, but it certainly isn’t the easiest system to use. It’s a two-man job. We must have been a sight to see, trying to latch the baby onto my breast and get the SNS tube into his mouth, all the while dripping formula everywhere!
The next supplement was due at 9:00 a.m. My husband was at home, so I was at the mercy of the nursing staff to assist with the SNS. At the time of the feeding, a lactation nurse barged into my room, and, without even glancing at my baby or consulting his pediatrician, promptly declared that my son’s pediatrician was wrong and that we did not need to supplement. Although my instincts were compromised by exhaustion and fear, they must have been somewhat intact because I told the nurse that I would not stop supplementing until instructed by the doctor. Refusing to be second-guessed, however, she threw the SNS onto the bed so that it was no longer sterile or usable, and left to call the doctor. Her response to the situation felt wrong, but I was very tired, and felt helpless. We did not supplement the baby again during my hospitalization.
As it turned out, it took my son one month to arrive back at his birth weight. During that month, we worked with our wonderful pediatrician and her lactation nurse, and underwent a manic feeding schedule. We nursed the every two hours around the clock, pumping and supplementing with breastmilk during every other feeding.
I pay homage to the mantra of Mama Knows Breast… “Breastfeeding may be natural, but it certainly isn’t easy.” In my prenatal class, I was told that our baby would control the milk supply, but was never taught that my milk supply could take time to come in, or be insufficient. I never learned that breastfeeding may cause a host of uncomfortable medical problems (mastitis, yeast infections, clogged milk ducts). Certainly no one told me that all these painful problems are solved by…you guessed it…more breastfeeding! As I continue to build my confidence and start to trust my instincts, I have learned a lot by getting the right help and talking to other moms. I laud my friends who, unlike my hospital nurse, are willing to admit that breastfeeding is difficult, and recognize that it is a choice to be made. Of my own experience, for my baby, my husband, and me, breastfeeding has been worth the journey.

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