Mama Knows Breast




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World Breastfeeding Week Book Contest — Winner 5

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Here is the fifth winner of my book contest …. Joy, a mom of 5 kids. She 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 Joy’s story:

I am currently 42 years old and nursing my fifth child who is a delightful 8 months old. With seven years of cumulative breastfeeding experience under my belt I feel like a breastfeeding expert. But when I think back to my first child 19 years ago, I did not start my breastfeeding experience quite so confidently.
The year was 1988 and I was 22 years old. I was just a babe in the woods with no childcare experience, the first of my circle of friends to have a baby. It was my plan to breastfeed for the altruistic reason that we had very little money and I wanted to save the cost of formula so we could pay our rent. My knowledge about breastfeeding was almost nothing. I had to skip my prenatal classes due to bed rest. There was no Internet for online breast feeding support. I did not even know that the La Leche League existed. I figured breastfeeding was natural and would come to me by osmosis when I had the baby.
The big day arrived and I delivered my daughter. While in the hospital no one gave me any serious help with breastfeeding. Lactation Consultants were not part of the nursing staff in 1988. I was not encouraged to put the baby to my breast until several hours after birth. I just sat and stared at my sweet little girl oblivious that I should let her suck my breasts when they felt empty and useless.
It seemed the trend at this hospital was to give nursing babies bottles of glucose water, so we happily complied. I brought home several extra bottles of water and waited for my milk to come in. That first night home was horrific. The angelic little babe who had barely peeped in the hospital awoke with a fury that no glucose water bottle could dissipate. I was exhausted and sore with inverted nipples that made for poor latching. My baby was hungry and cranky. My poor husband spent that whole night awake walking the baby and I spent it crying because I did not know what to do. In the morning I frantically called my mother and asked her to come. I was desperate and afraid I would starve my sweet child.
My wonderful mom called in sick to work and came right over. She was a product of the 50’s and 60’s when Mom’s were discouraged from breastfeeding and had no advice to offer except to suggest we try formula. If I had any idea how to use formula or some available in the house I’m certain that would have been the end of my breastfeeding experience. However; I was as clueless about formula as I was about nursing. As a last resort my Mom called my sister in law, the only person either of us knew who had breastfed.
Good bless my SIL. We were not particularly close at the time and she was significantly older than me but she packed up her kids and made the trip over to visit. I don’t think her comments were exceptionally earth shaking but they were just what I needed. She calmed me down and said, “It will get easier.” “Keep putting the baby on the breast to suck, she is getting something.” “Your milk will come in eventually, don’t give up.” “The soreness will go away.” It got me through those first days home. My milk did come in and soon I was overflowing. The baby learned to latch on and suck well with practice. It was only a short time later that breastfeeding went from impossible to enjoyable. I continued on to nurse my daughter for 20 months and have nursed four more children over the past 20 years.
I credit my transformation from a crying frustrated new mom to a confident nursing mama to one person taking the time to share her breastfeeding experience. I hope that along the way I can do the same for some other new mother who is struggling. Breastfeeding is not always easy but it is definitely rewarding.



One Response to “World Breastfeeding Week Book Contest — Winner 5”

Oh, what a wonderful ending to your story! I think so many moms can relate to this, and I am so happy you had that someone to help you at such an important time in both yours and your baby’s lives!
Steph

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