Looking Back: Back To The Breast

Chris Popejoy, Montrose, Iowa

Originally published in the July-August 1978 issue of La Leche League News.

Editor’s Note: The first issue of La Leche League News, the bimonthly publication for members, was published in 1958. The name changed to New Beginnings in 1985. New Beginnings continued to be published by La Leche League International until it was transferred to LLL USA in 2010. In 2014, it transitioned to its current blog format at www.lllusa.org/blog/.

Mother nursing her baby; over the shoulder shotMy nursing experience is a little different than most because we began with formula feeding. I had wanted to breastfeed but wasn’t successful in getting started. Matthew was born a month early, so we didn’t have a rooming-in arrangement in the hospital. I went home on the third day, but he had to stay in the hospital another five days. During that time I expressed my milk and went to visit and nurse him as often as I could, but it seemed that he had just been given formula every time I went. (We later learned that his chart had been mismarked.) It was discouraging, but I felt that when he came home, we could settle down and relax and become a successful nursing couple.

Then when he did come home, he refused the breast. He would pull away and scream. I had never been around babies before and was especially nervous about his small size. I felt that if he missed a meal or lost an ounce it would be disastrous. So I gave in and fed him with a bottle. I was disappointed and felt that I had failed. I really missed the close feeling that nursing had given me in the hospital those first few days.

While being formula-fed, Matthew spit up a lot. He had a severe diaper rash that wouldn’t respond to anything. He had a lot of gas and constipation. Every day there would be long crying spells when nothing would calm him. I noticed that he seemed to suck his fingers and thumb a lot, so we tried pacifiers, but he would have nothing to do with them. Then I put him to the breast to try to bring back my milk. He was about five weeks old at the time. He did nurse then, and would suck often and for long periods. It seemed to calm him down when nothing else would. I nursed him first and then offered him a bottle. I gradually gave him less formula each day and nursed as often as possible. He had gained weight and I was more at ease. We were alone most of the day and didn’t have the interruptions and visitors we had at first. It took three weeks to completely change over to breastfeeding. I feel that if I had had a little more confidence and some encouragement, we could have made the change a little sooner.

Just a few days after we gave up formula, the rash greatly improved. His disposition is much more pleasant now, and we have had less spitting up and no constipation.

I would encourage anyone who wants to change to breastfeeding to try. It can be done and is very rewarding

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