Monday, October 14, 2013

//Adventures in Breastfeeding- Sarah's Story//

I love Sarah's advice- it's true that it helps to be prepared for all possibilities. It's the support we get that truly helps any obstacle become easier. I loved this story and Sarah's determination to move through the unexpected. What a strong Mama! <3

I think everyone has a picture in their head of how their delivery and first few months with their first baby will go. So far, I have yet to meet someone whose expectations paralleled their reality. 

I have always planned on breastfeeding. When I found out I was preeclamptic and had to be induced, I was worried. I had read studies and blogs stating the more interventions involved in a birth, the more complications with breastfeeding. I ended up laboring for 12+ hours until they decided I needed a Caesarean. By that point, I was ready to get baby boy out and figured I would just cross my fingers that all those studies were wrong... or at least not as bad as I had interpreted them. 

Will was born three weeks early and weighed 6 lbs 12 oz. He was absolutely beautiful. I had more complications with my delivery that required me to have surgery immediately after. It was a pretty scary day and I don't really remember much besides being obsessed with getting him to breastfeed within the hour after delivery. Just like the books and blogs said, he wiggled his adorable wrinkly little head down and latched on his own. It wasn't perfect but, it was absolutely beautiful. I don't have words to describe how I felt at that moment. I knew I would do whatever it took to make sure we could continue with this special bond. 

Will needed a small procedure while we were in the hospital, which I was told would require him not to eat for an hour before. I am convinced this is what threw us off. The procedure was not supposed to take long but they ended up having to bring him back due to an emergency with another patient and he went a few hours without eating.

After that, it was really hard to get him to eat. We worked with the nurses and lactation consultants but very little seemed to help. They were under staffed and busy. He was mad. He was tired. He was hungry. And so were my husband and I. We were discharged the next day and I continued to breastfeed but the doctors were concerned about his bilirubin levels and asked that I try formula instead. I did not want to do that. I was rather surprised that they were so ready to introduce formula without even talking about the option to pump. My heart sunk. I felt like I failed and like I wasn't doing my job as a mom. I knew it was important to know how much milk Will was getting and I didn't want to put him at risk because of something I wanted either. I requested to try pumping first. Thankfully, that worked like a charm! 

I ended up feeding Will by exclusively pumping for 5 weeks. I desperately wanted to breastfeed, but once he realized the bottle was much easier, he wanted nothing to do with the breast! I did some research and found a local La Leche League lactation consultant. She told me to come in and she would help me one on one (FOR FREE). I was a little skeptical, but I went. She sat with me for at least 90 minutes and worked patiently with us. She showed me how to use a nipple shield. Thanks to her expertise and that amazing invention, we were breastfeeding again before we left! I used the nipple shield for about two weeks and then transitioned to the breast. After that, Will changed his mind and has now decided he only wants to breastfeed. Although we made the transition successfully, we hit a few bumps along the way. We pushed through and survived thrush (Will), mastitis, blistered nipples, and a few clogged ducts. It has been far from easy, but so worth it. 
Now, he likes eating so much, that I even got a lecture from the doctor about stretching out feedings. Breastfeeding was hard. It was not the natural process I had pictured. However, the bond I feel with my sweet boy when feeding him is far worth all of the hard work. I am so glad I kept trying. I originally wanted to breastfeed because of the many benefits for the baby. I had no idea about how much I would benefit from it as well! 

Will is now five months old. We love our little butter ball so much. As you can see, he has clearly caught on (Rolls after rolls after rolls!). We joined a breastfeeding center near us and really grew together from the support we found there. I am so thankful for the support I received from my husband, the LLL, and the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington.  I encourage all mommas (and significant others) to get out there and plan ahead as though you aren't sure what will happen. Find the resources BEFORE delivery. They are out there, regardless of budget. There are so many options. You don't have to do it alone! It really does take a village! 

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