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Nursing Two

Julia Richter
Yonkers NY USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 21 No. 5, September-October 2004, p. 171

I started going to La Leche League meetings when I was pregnant. My sister, Janice, who lives in Canada, has been a member since the birth of her first son. She is responsible for introducing me to La Leche League and to an attachment parenting style. I am so grateful.

Imagine my joy when a few weeks into my pregnancy my sister announced that she was pregnant, too! Although we were in different countries, we spent an incredible amount of time on the phone and emailing each other. She gave birth to Justin about four weeks after my daughter, Isabella, was born.

I was visiting my family in Canada last summer when my sister had an accident and was hospitalized. Our babies were five and four months old respectively and both totally breastfed. She was unable to nurse her baby at first. Fortunately, I was in town with my milk-filled breasts and I nursed both Justin and Isabella. Once Janice stabilized, she was able to pump a fair amount of milk and I supplemented the rest of Justin's feedings. Justin could only visit his mother in the hospital to nurse once a day and was understandably traumatized by the separation from her. In addition to the nourishment of mother's milk, I was able to provide comfort to my nephew through the contact of nursing, particularly during the night when, deprived of his mother's sleeping presence, he needed cuddling the most.

Initially, I was worried about having enough milk to share for two babies, but the nature of supply and demand is truly amazing. I phoned both the local LLL chapter in Canada and also my LLL Leader back home in New York. With their help I devised a strategy for nursing both the babies. Most of the time I nursed the babies separately. Occasionally, they both needed me simultaneously. Looking down at those two beautiful faces nursing was such an amazing sight, and a truly moving experience that I will never forget.

Our parents were very supportive the whole time. They provided loving child care and made regular runs to the hospital, which was an hour away, to collect Janice's pumped milk in a cooler and to bring Justin to her daily. Justin never had to drink formula, although I did give him his first taste of mashed banana during that time.

A lot of our friends didn't understand why we made "such a fuss" about breastfeeding and thought we were fanatical and strange. My friends in my local LLL Group totally understood and applauded me as though I was some kind of hero when I came home with the tale of my experience.

Editor's Note: Cross nursing is not something that is generally recommended because there are risks involved. However, in an emergency situation like the one described in "Nursing Two," the baby benefited from receiving mother's milk and comfort from another family member when he was faced with unexpected separation from his mother. Cross nursing is not a decision that should be made lightly.

Last updated Tuesday, October 24, 2006 by njb.
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