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August 06, 2005

Breastfeeding Challenges

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. With my fourth, even with all the previous experience I had, I found it to be tough going to get my newborn to latch well.

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?


This post is part of a World Breastfeeding Week 2005 series.

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My mother breastfeed me but she died long before I got married, so I didn't have her around for advice. My 77 year old grandmother was around, but she didn't breastfeed any of her 5 children because both her husband and her doctor strongly discouraged her. So I was blessed that I had two great midwives who visited me at my house several times after my baby was born and helped me to overcome latch on problems. Oh, they also helped me to feed him for the first time right after we all got out of the birthing tub! And my urge to research led me to read extensively about breastfeeding before my son was born.

Posted by: Hannah Im at August 7, 2005 10:16 PM

I was 19 years old when I had my son, barely 19. My mother thought breastfeeding was strange if not a bit repulsive. My dads family was ultra-conservative-Catholic and thought body parts were meant to hide. My husbands family had a strange phenomenon of "no milk" in their breasts (I'd like proof of that). So, honestly? I don't *know* what possessed me to breastfeed. I don't know what possessed DH to support me so strongly through it all. We had a rough first 2 weeks, I was bleeding and cracked. ANd then my mom of all people gave us a gift, a gift that changed our lives, a visit with a lactation consultant. After visiting her, and with my husband reiterating everything she said to me daily and even physically latching my son on for me, we made it through those difficult first 3 months.

After my first baby I was amazed at how easy and natural it came to me for the other 3 (soon to be 4).

Posted by: Jess at August 8, 2005 08:24 AM

I worked for a pediatrician when my first son was born, and he told me that if I breastfed, I could bring my son to the office with me. THAT was what kept me going, because I desperately wanted my son with me.

That said, it was no picnic. For the 6 weeks of my maternity leave, we endured painful thrush, hellish mastitis, engorgement, severe PPD... you name it. God got me through all of it, and I am SO thankful because I know I would have quit had I not felt Him urging me on. It turned out to be the most beautiful experience, and my son nursed until he was just shy of 3 years old!

I am so saddened that it's a "try it and if you don't like it then quit" kind of thing with so many mothers. In my opinion, they are missing out on the best part of motherhood, and their babies are missing out on soooo much.

Blessings friend-

jan

Posted by: Jan at August 8, 2005 12:07 PM

I am a 34-year-old single mother to a beautiful two-year-old daughter. Her name is Aiyana and she is a nursing toddler. :-)
Like Hannah I research everything I felt that I would be able to handle whatever came my way when my daughter was born. The books helped me with all the scenarios I might experience, as a new nursing mom going through those experiences was tough. There were times when it took my daughter a long time to latch on. She and I were both frustrated and exhausted.

I am thankful for the support system I received! I had fabulous midwives/lactation consultants at the birthing center. I received home visits and I could call on them whenever I had any questions. I know everyone is not fortunate to have these options available. I would suggest contacting your local La Leche League by
Phone 1-800-LALECHE (US) or (847) 519-7730
Website
http://www.lalecheleague.org
You can find your local La Leche around the world at this link http://www.lalecheleague.org/WebIndex.html
If there is none close to you and you have online access you can check out their online (aol) chat meetings at this link http://www.lalecheleague.org/chat/chat.html
Their online meetings times are:
· Monday 3:00 pm (Eastern US Time) (Round Robin Q&A Meeting)
· Monday 11:00 p.m. (Eastern US Time) (Support Meeting--uses AOL instant messenger (AIM) software)
· Tuesday 10:00 p.m. (Eastern US Time) (Round Robin Q&A Meeting)
· Wednesday 1:00 p.m. (Eastern US Time) (Support Meeting)
· Thursday 1:00 p.m. (Eastern US Time) (Support Meeting)
· Sunday 9:00 p.m. (Eastern US Time) (Round Robin Q&A Meeting)
Here is a time converter if you are not sure what time http://www.timezoneconverter.com/cgi-bin/tzc.tzc I used the online chat when I had questions. They have a La Leche League Leader

The first few months were extremely tough. My daughter did not sleep more than three hours at a time. She would wake up usually crying since it took a while for her to latch on. I never thought it would be this hard. I knew many women from online forums who did not experience these obstacles. I thought, why is this happening to us? I did not want to give up nursing my daughter I was afraid that I would have to use formula since I did not know if she was getting enough to eat. The fabulous support I received from my midwives was very helpful. I knew I was making the correct choice for my daughter. Talking to people who had been where I was confirmed and gave me the extra boost of confidence I desperately needed. I reread the books I had purchased during pregnancy and I picked up tips I had overlooked in my first reading. Dr. Sears.”The Breastfeeding Book was my all time favorite.

I faced a new challenge when Aiyana was four months into our nursing relationship. I returned to work. I started pumping a month before I returned to work. Once again I was at a new hurdle. I would receive only a few drops when I attempted to pump. I was frustrated and worried about being able to provide for Aiyana while I was away at work. Would I be able to keep up? Would our nursing relationship be ending early since I had no choice but to go back to work? I contacted the Human Resources department and asked if they could provide a place where I could pump. I followed up with my boss and let them know I would need time to pump while I was away from my daughter. The first few weeks apart from my daughter were hard and I pumped about 8 ounces as I started to relax it became easier. In the beginning I would carry a picture of my daughter or think about her during my pumping sessions. This helped tremendously in my output. I also supplemented with Fenugreek and Goats Rue. They both aid in increasing milk production. I found the best results with the Goat’s Rue. The breastpumps I used were the Medela Pump in Style. I used this the first four months away from my daughter. I then purchased the hospital grade Medela symphony. I loved both but my favorite was the Medela symphony.

I enjoy the special bond with my daughter and I realize it won’t be long before she is not nursing anymore and that is fine. That time will be replaced with other things. Aiyana nurses now when tired, has hurt herself. Amazing but nursing seems to erase the pain.

Posted by: Vegan Momma at August 8, 2005 02:13 PM

My oldest was weaned at 10 days of age thanks to a whole lot of pride yet no real info. ;-)

2 things kept me going with #2:

1) Washing all those blankety-blank bottles LOL

2) We paid $100/month for formula with #1

At night with #2 (having taken turns getting up at night with #1 ;-) ) I'd chant, "$100 a month, $100 a month."

So sad but so true! It helped that #2 latched on well and didn't hurt me a bit. Had #3 and #4 been my 1st "real" experiences with breastfeeding, I may have called it quits. They didn't read the pages in the book that said they weren't supposed to get hungry till they were about 2-3 days old. They were trying to suck a VERY thick milkshake out of a too-small straw, and even though their latches were good....OUCHIE!!!!!!!!!!! But since I already had 14 months of successful nursing under my belt with #2 (and then 15 months with #3), I knew I could do it.

Thankfully #5 was like #2 - no pain whatsoever, and she DID read those pages LOL!

Posted by: Keer at August 9, 2005 01:00 AM

Hmm, I think because it's normal...and because I'd catch a lot of flak from everyone if I switched to formula!

Posted by: sarah mosley at August 10, 2005 10:25 AM

With my first, I was very prideful about doing everything naturally. So, "naturally" my pride prodded me along the very frustrating first month or so. She experienced weight loss and was angry that I would make her nurse before supplementing with a bottle (the whole problem right there!), which I had to do b/c of her low weight. Honestly, I was too uptight and overly concerned about the whole matter. Things were very different with my second. We still struggled immensely, but only for the first 9 days. Day ten arrived and something clicked. What helped?

a) Asking for help ASAP. I had a total of 4 visits to the lactation consultant. The first one when the baby was only 3 days old.

b)Knowing that these are only "light and momentary troubles." There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however endless and dark the tunnel may seem.

c) Being wise in applying the practical aspects of the advice I received and not feeling guilty for saying no to things I knew were too taxing for me.

d) Writing everything down. Recording when the baby ate, how much, if supplemented, etc. Helped immensely when my brain was barely functioning b/c of hardly any sleep.

e) The most important, Christ! Praying scripture over myself, the baby, and asking God what he was desiring to show and do through the experience. Writing scripture and placing it where I would see it several times a day.

I am so glad I stuck through the difficult part. It always seems so hard, but looking back, I realize, "IT was only ten days!" The bonding and convenience of nursing, plus the health benefits to my beautiful baby are well worth it.

Posted by: Meagan at August 14, 2005 09:20 PM

Through my own personal longing to give my daughter the best in life I chose to breastfeed long before she was born. And my sister started taking me to her La Leche League meetings at about six months pregnant, so I had a lot of my questions answered before my baby was even born. And we took very naturally to the process once she was born.
We did have a few issues arise, eg. clogged ducts, theething, and even thrush once. But my daughter who is now 16 months still breastfeeds and has never had any real health issues. In fact she has not once had and ear infection! Praise the Lord!
The biggest factor in our continued breastfeeding though has to be my wonderful, supporting husband! (Thanks, Pookie!)
And now I'm a breastfeeding peer counselor!

Posted by: Shekinah at December 16, 2005 10:59 PM

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