First Weeks of Breastfeeding
Salisbury NC USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 4, July-August 2003, p. 136
My first birth detoured down an unexpected path to a cesarean delivery. Afterward, I was released from the hospital with minimal breastfeeding skills. I was an amateur, determined to master this art. After a week, I was wondering if choosing to breastfeed had been a mistake. I was still determined, but frustrated. I had read that nursing a baby was supposed to bring tranquility and harmony. It was meant to bond and unite mother and child. Instead I felt awkward and clumsy.
I spoke with a lactation specialist who reassured me that these feelings would be replaced by calmness and peace. Her words inspired me to continue. During our first days of breastfeeding, Alan wasn't eager to latch on. I felt as though I was fighting him, my body, and society all at once, but I was sure that breastfeeding was intended for my baby. My husband was supportive.
When my milk came in, my breasts were hard and they hurt. I wasn't sure if Alan was getting enough milk and I didn't like not knowing. When I fed him on one side, the other would leak. I stuck with the guidelines I had read. I monitored soiled diapers and nursed for 10 minutes on each side. I had also read that before my baby latched on, my milk should look watery, like skim milk. After nursing it should look more like whole milk, so I expressed milk each time to check. I found it was better for both of us if I nursed on cue rather than letting the clock determine the feeding times.
At the same time, I was beginning to relax and feel competent at being a nursing mother. I trusted my judgment. One day while nursing Alan, I studied him. I witnessed a contented child. There was harmony, calmness, and teamwork. I felt united with him. My eyes gleamed with pride.
I grew confident and treasured my ability to soothe and settle my child through nursing. Alan was weaned at 15 months. When my second child was born, I was eager to bring her to the breast. Without hesitation, she latched on and received her first meal without thinking twice about it. At 20 months old, my daughter is still nursing once a day to fall asleep.
Breastfeeding started off on shaky ground and has ended with two happy and healthy children. I feel I gave them the best. There were sacrifices, but I gave them more than milk and food, I gave them a bond that I hope will last through adulthood.