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Breastfeeding Triumphs

Lora Reynolds
Trafford PA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 1, January-February 2003, p. 14

I had great difficulty breastfeeding in the beginning with my firstborn, Elizabeth. So many things had happened that made it more of a challenge. I had an intense baby who was born after an ineffective attempt to induce labor and subsequent cesarean delivery. The hospital's lactation consultant was not available to help me with breastfeeding, so I felt left alone to figure it all out in the midst of emotional turmoil and physical fatigue. I am thankful for the La Leche League Catalogue my sister mailed me a few months into my pregnancy. The books I began to buy, one after another, were sources of information and comfort to me.

Each day I'd say to myself "I'll try one more day of breastfeeding, and then I'm through!" Looking back, I can see that it was such a difficult time for me because I neglected my own needs while trying to meet the unending needs of a baby who seemed to need three mothers.

After a few weeks had passed, I realized that things were calming down and getting a little better. For one, my arms were stronger from hours of holding and rocking Elizabeth. Still, every nursing attempt was overshadowed by negative thoughts such as, "I can't do anything the 'right' (natural) way." A month passed until I finally took the time to notice the positive physical and spiritual effects that breastfeeding was having on me.

After about two months of obstacles—when I stopped doubting my body and recognized that it was designed for breastfeeding my baby—Elizabeth and I were able to establish a solid nursing relationship. My intense baby demanded to be in constant close contact with me, and I responded to her. Even though there was a culturally self-conscious part of me that thought I was crazy, I breastfed her once or more every hour because that is what she wanted. Listening to my baby made all the difference in our success.

I also started to discard negative thinking and gave myself some credit. I adopted a more realistic view of the evidence before me. My high-need child, who had been born a month premature, was 16 or 17 pounds by the time she turned three months old! Not only was she growing out of the front carrier I had bought for her, she was growing off those charts the doctor was always consulting. This was tangible evidence of our success as a breastfeeding pair.

We had finally figured out breastfeeding and weren't about to give it up. We didn't stop at six months because I couldn't bear the thought of Elizabeth teething without me being able to soothe her through nursing. We didn't stop at one year because she needed my comfort as the world around her expanded. We kept on going through my next pregnancy, even when my Elizabeth said sadly, "There's no nummy milk, mommy." We only stopped breastfeeding for about two weeks because I developed nursing blisters and couldn't take the pain. We resumed when my nipples healed.

Elizabeth nursed at the hospital before her sister was born. I seemed to have plenty of colostrum for the new baby, thanks to the pre-birth demand for it. Even another cesarean birth didn't interfere with my milk coming in! I had to pump to relieve the engorgement before I left the hospital, and at home, I encountered opposite complications from my first birth—too much milk.

With my second baby, Virginia, I rested more, drank more fluids, and nursed with a brighter attitude. She was mellow, latched on easily, and seemed to find nursing a breeze. I was able to counteract so many of the nursing problems I experienced the first time around. I changed pediatricians and cheerfully nursed on demand. I had learned where to turn for real support because I was an LLL member by then. I could quietly ignore the sources of bad vibes that had cluttered my thinking and interfered with my heart. I read about tandem nursing and gave myself a lot of breaks from outside demands. Î strengthened my body by walking, but also made sure I got enough rest in order to heal mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Now, the cesarean births have faded in memory while breastfeeding has become something of a lifestyle. I listen more closely to my sweet children. I follow personal insight, my experience, and my gut feelings. Everything is weighed against these, measured not by rules in a book, but by feelings in the heart. As a result we've grown stronger and we thrive.

My experience has taught me that breastfeeding heals a mother inside and out. I found that nursing made up for the surgical procedures and many of the tumultuous emotions I had toward them. Breastfeeding helped physically heal my body and it spiritually bolstered my soul. Even though cesarean births interfered with breastfeeding on some level, ultimately breastfeeding did triumph.

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