One More Feeding
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 1, January-February 2002, p. 11
My husband and I eagerly awaited the birth of our son, Jacob. We agreed that breastfeeding was best and took a breastfeeding class. Okay, I thought, women have done this for thousands of years, so I can do it too. I knew it might be challenging, but I am a determined woman. My friends and family asked if I was planning to breastfeed and for how long. I told them that I would give it my best shot and we'd breastfeed for at least three months, but my ultimate goal was one year. I believed that if we breastfed for three months, we'd probably go to six months when my baby would start solids. Then, since we would be half way through a year, I reasoned, why buy bottles and formula for six months when we had free, superior milk already available?
Jacob was born three weeks early and he didn't seem very interested in breastfeeding in the hospital. We worked with a lactation consultant, but he had a lazy suck, which I was told was typical of early arrivals. I expressed my colostrum and syringe-fed my newborn. My milk came in on the morning of our hospital discharge and I figured that Jacob would latch on better. The lactation consultant helped us some more with positioning and latch-on, but Jacob still wasn't very interested. We started using a nipple shield and he managed to latch on.
The first few nights at home were fine. I had to wake Jacob to feed him every two hours, but he latched on well enough to the nipple shield and he nursed for several minutes before he would fall deep asleep. I felt like a breastfeeding success. It was so wonderful to watch him nurse and become so content at my breast. But there was this plastic thing in the picture. Oh well, I thought, at least he was breastfeeding.
I tried to latch Jacob directly on to the breast, but he pinched my nipples and then choked on my milk because I had a large supply. My husband comforted me and coaxed me into calling the lactation consultant again. Jacob and I met with her at the hospital. He latched on well when she was there to help me. I went home confident that we would breastfeed, not aiming for three months, but for one more feeding. Three months was too overwhelming. So, again, I made an attainable goal for myself: one more feeding.
"One more feeding" became my motto for the next four weeks. We had at least three more sessions with the lactation consultant, we began attending LLL meetings, and I began reaching out to other breastfeeding mothers. "One more feeding" stretched through nights and into days and then became a few weeks. I was managing one more feeding, but I began looking to the future wondering when it was going to get better. I always seemed to be struggling to get Jacob to nurse and everything seemed so unpredictable. The first question I asked my wonderful LLL Leader was "When will this get better?" She could not tell me when, but assured me that it would.
It took Jacob and me a good six weeks to get breastfeeding down and another month before I was comfortable breastfeeding in public. At home I would watch my wonderful son nursing, and the picture was now perfect; no plastic shield, no more overwhelming let-downs that choked him, fewer and fewer nursing pillows.
We achieved our three-month goal, and then our six-month goal. I was certain that we would wean when Jacob began walking, but now that he has been walking for more than a month, Jacob doesn't appear to be ready to wean, nor am I.
I hope that other struggling mothers will remember to take baby steps, just as our children do. One more feeding has gotten us far!