Laura’s Story: Persevering Through The Difficult Early Months
Laura P., New York City, New York
When my son was born, I had no experience with being a mother or breastfeeding. I agreed to give breastfeeding a shot, but I was very nervous about it. Most of the young mothers I knew had used formula instead of breastfeeding and it seemed like it would be a lot of work. I received a breast pump in the mail from my insurance company, but I couldn’t make sense of how to use it.
My son was born by cesarean, and I wasn’t able to breastfeed him for several hours after he was born. Once we were finally reunited, I tried to feed him, but getting him to latch was extremely difficult. Most newborn babies lose some weight after they are born, and as we were approaching that 10% mark, the nurses started urging me to give him formula. I did not want to cave so early so I constantly asked for the lactation consultant and/or nurses to come help me with my son. I did see lactation consultants and they did help me.
We were finally able to leave the hospital, but the latching issues continued after we returned home. One of the nurses in the hospital gave my son a pacifier, and I believe it caused some nipple confusion. After we returned home, I took the pacifier away. I called friends who had breastfed and asked them to help me. Finally, after a couple of weeks, my son was latching better.
After the latching issues were resolved, the cluster feeding began. I felt extremely overwhelmed because my son wanted to eat constantly and I felt like I couldn’t leave the house. Compounding my anxiety was the fact that my son was also suffering from colic so he cried almost constantly those first few months. Thankfully, we pushed through. I began to build a stash of milk in the freezer for when I returned to work by pumping one breast while my son nursed from the other.
I returned to work at 11 weeks postpartum. I was determined to continue breastfeeding, so I pumped four times per day while I was at work until my son was nine months old. In hindsight, this was probably more than necessary because my freezer soon was overflowing with milk. At nine months, I dropped my pumping sessions to three times per day.
When my son turned one year old, I suppose he technically no longer “needed” breast milk. However, he still very much enjoyed nursing so I decided to continue.
I became pregnant when my son was 14 months old. I am still newly pregnant. We are continuing to nurse because my son still enjoys it. I do not know when our nursing journey will end because I do not know if my milk will dry up during pregnancy. So far, it has not.
I am so grateful that I decided to give breastfeeding a try and that I persevered through the hard times. It became so much easier after the first couple of weeks and months. I have bonded with my son so beautifully and I can’t imagine not having breastfed him. There is truly nothing like watching your child fall asleep peacefully while they nurse.
Editor’s Note: Laura shared her experience of pumping while at work and noted that she may not have needed to pump as often as she did in the early months. “How often should I pump?” is a common question. According to the LLL USA website, “Ideally, you would pump as often as your baby would nurse. This may not be possible with your work/school schedule. Most mothers find that pumping every 2-3 hours maintains their milk supply and does not cause them to become uncomfortably full.”
You can read more about pumping at www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/pumping-milk/.
If you have questions about pumping or other breastfeeding concerns, please contact a La Leche League Leader: www.lllusa.org/locator/.
Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].
Supporting Breastfeeding Families–Today, Tomorrow, Always
Please consider donating to La Leche League USA.
Donations of any amount are gratefully accepted, and for a minimum gift of $25 your special message of congratulations, encouragement, or appreciation can be published in New Beginnings Blog.