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August 07, 2004

Breastfeeding, Interrupted

Well, our telephone is out--likely until next Monday or Tuesday. So my series of posts in honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2004 is interrupted.

For some mothers, breastfeeding comes easily. For others, it entails overcoming a series of obstacles. When one problem is solved, another one crops up. Latch problems, mastitis, low supply, reflux, thrush, working and pumping. . .

For me, my firstborn latched on like a pro. I had normal engorgement and mild mastitis, both pretty usual and minor. However, when he was a bit older I had a problem with my supply, that was related to being misinformed about how breastfeeding really works, and how scheduling can undermine breastfeeding.

So, I'd like to ask those who have overcome breastfeeding struggles, What motivated you to keep breastfeeding? What helped you deal with the challenges you faced while breastfeeding?

What was it that kept you from having your breastfeeding interrupted?


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With my last baby, the engorgment was the worst. I got over it by taking the advice of other moms who had gone through it and by using hot and cold packs. At least with engorgement you know it will end soon. This last baby also had trouble latching on as she had a tongue sucking problem (probably developed in the womb). For that I just spent a lot of time making sure that she was on properly and not allowing bottles or pacifiers to pass her lips. My DH offered me rest in the form of a nightly bottle, but I just knew that if I gave her one, I'd lose her to it. So, I perservered. I must say, having other nursing moms around is a HUGE support. And it's kind of a positive peer pressure sort of thing.

Posted by: Anne at August 7, 2004 08:02 PM

My first child was born six weeks premature. I didn't get to start breastfeeding her until a week after she was born. The wonderful lactation consultant helped us get started. I don't know what I would have done without her. Even with the LC's help, it was difficult. Sometimes it would take 10 to 20 minutes to get her to latch on. And even after she latched on, she would often throw up her entire feeding. I would sometimes sit in the rocking chair, covered in baby puke, crying because we had worked so hard to get the feeding in, and she just threw it all up. This went on for months!

I remember the lactaction consultant (The same one who helped me after the baby was born. She rocks!) who taught my breastfeeding class asked us if we were going to try to breastfeed, or if we were going to breastfeed. She said that the women she has worked with who say they are going to try to breastfeed often give up, while those who are determined to see it through are more likely to succeed. I was definitely determined that my baby was going to be breastfed! Giving up was not an option. That's really what got me through those hard times, plus a large dose of God's grace, and a wonderfully supportive husband.

Btw, I've been enjoying all the breastfeeding posts! This was a busy week for me, so I've had time to read but not comment.

Posted by: Missy at August 8, 2004 02:19 AM

My fourth will turn one in two weeks. Like my first three children, he has been breastfed since birth. However, the others were all weaned by about age one. As that milestone approaches with this, my last baby, I'm having a harder time giving it up.

He's been the best nurser-- always focused and concentrated about his "work" of eating. He nursed all through the Fourth of July fireworks while my four-year-old screamed from the noise. The baby looked up, saw the lights and returned right back to eating, as if to say it was much more important and satisfying. It's hard to give up the attachment, hard to give up the excuse to sit and rest for 10 minutes, and hard to give up the automatic solution to a fussy baby when you just need a moment of quiet.

Anyone else feel this way?

Posted by: susan at August 8, 2004 05:53 AM

If it wasn't for the lactation consultant appointment, when my first was about 2 weeks old, my poor sore and cracked nipples would never had made it. Then, if it weren't for my dear husband patiently showing me again and again the techniques she taught us, I probably wouldn't have made it after that.

After I got my first down, the rest were easy as pie! :-) I can't believe how close I came to giving this wonderful experience up!


Posted by: Jessica at August 8, 2004 11:21 AM

With our first baby, 19 years ago, I got a copy of "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" by La Leche League. I wore that thing out! And I never even considered formula....it wasn't a consideration so I was determined to make the nursing work.

If you allow doubt to enter in, you make an opening for another choice. For me, not an option.

Posted by: Melissa at August 8, 2004 07:25 PM

I tried to breastfeed my first baby 26 (almost 27 yipes!) years ago. But I was very young and ignorant and had no support. As soon as engorgement hit I ran to the hospital for "the shot". My baby hadn't taken to breastfeeding right away and I was clueless as to how to remedy that. So I gave up. With my second, I just got "the shot" to simplify things. Then almost 14 years later when I had my 3rd child (it had been 10 years since remarrying and I was much wiser in many respects), I knew where to get the info I needed, I had a very supportive husband, and I wanted to "do things right this time". I put up with a lot of misery with engorgement, too much milk, my son's projectile vomiting from drinking too much milk (I could've fed twins), mastitis, extremely sore nipples, etc., but I stuck it out and enjoyed nursing my son for 2.5 years (thankfully, those things only happened early on and things smoothed out after the first few months). I then had 2 more children and breastfed both of them as long as they liked (around 2.5 years for each) and loved it. Since I knew what to expect, I hung on through the rocky beginnings and enjoyed breastfeeding immensely after that.

I agree with Missy that you must decide you'll stick with it, no matter what, to truly succeed. I also saw giving up as not an option. I was going to do it, that was all there was to it. Big change from my first and second breastfeeding experiences!

Posted by: Kim at August 9, 2004 03:49 AM

The thing that made me stick with breastfeeding (despite my mom always wanting to know when I was going to give the baby a bottle) was the fact that generations of women the world over who had no other option and they all managed to figure it out. If they could do it so could I. Millions of other women have faced and over come the challenges and so would (did) I.

Posted by: Samantha at August 9, 2004 03:49 AM

I breastfed my first six babies, no problem, then baby #7 lost a lot of weight during the first 6 weeks of his life, and I had to face the fact that though I was doing everything right, I needed to give him supplements. I sobbed the first time I gave him a bottle. I worked with a lactation consultant to try to build my milk supply, but it was a mystery as to why I couldn't exclusively nurse him. So, I got a breast pump to keep what milk I did have and I used a device with tiny tubes to give him extra formula while he nursed. This went on for a year, nursing first, then a bottle. I hoped with my next babies that things would improve, but, alas, each one ended up needing the same special treatment. So, I've nursed each of the last for babies for an entire year, along with pumping and the LactAid, as well as bottles. Some of the supplementing has been with goat's milk as well as the formula.

One thing I learned from my experience is to be careful about my reaction when I see women giving their babies bottles. I have had some nasty comments from women who saw me giving a bottle to my babies, not knowing the extraordinary measures I also was taking to continue breastfeeding. I have a dear friend who regrets having breast augmentation surgery when she was younger because it ruined her chances of breastfeeding her children (this isn't always the case, but for her it is). I earnestly believe that breastfeeding is the BEST way to feed your baby, and it is possible for the majority of women, but there are some who, for a variety of reasons, can't do it even though they would love to do it.

Posted by: Carmon at August 9, 2004 03:38 PM

So...umm...when's all the breastfeeding talk going to give way to something more "mixed-company-friendly?" :)

Posted by: Tim at August 9, 2004 08:02 PM

I've been fortunate with both of mine that after the initial cracked nipples and stuff that the worst I ever had to deal with was a bad case of thrush and some clogged ducts. I'm glad I haven't had to work at to the extent of some.

A friend found out after her first child was born and not thriving at the breast that she had thyroid problems causing milk problems. She continued to breastfeed, but had to use the Lactaid and supplement with formula as well. I always think of her and all the work she put into her commitment to breastfeeding (which sounds a lot like Carmon) when I hear people say it was too much trouble or they didn't think they could produce enough milk. I also knew a woman who adopted and used a Lactaid and donated milk to feed at the breast. I figure if a woman really wants to do it, she'll find a way.

Posted by: Jordana at August 9, 2004 10:02 PM

I only nursed 4 of my 5 children - I had developed pre-ecclampsia with #3 and I was on some medications after his birth that (supposedly??) precluded breastfeeding. Twice I became pregnant while nursing and my milk dried up pretty quickly as my body was too busy vomiting to produce much milk...

What motivated me?? My breastfeeding difficulties didn't extend past a few weeks of cracked/bleeding nipples with my first (immersing my breasts in warm salt water worked for me!) so, thankfully, I didn't need much motivation. I just loved nursing and my husband and children loved it as well.

The only challenge we had was knowing that my mother HATES breastfeeding! Sigh. Eventually we just agreed to disagree and I learned to ignore her little comments or chalk them up to genuine concern.

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