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My Family, My Support System

Lauren, Florida

This is my family’s story of our journey to feed my beautiful girl. I say it’s my family’s story because I truly could not have breastfed my daughter without my amazing support system! I hope that our story can encourage other families in similar situations.

Born on October 16, 2020, my daughter was having trouble latching and then was taken away from us after 30 hours due to medical issues. During her time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I was unable to nurse per the doctor’s orders and I was struggling with milk production. The lactation consultant at the hospital recommended pumping every two hours around the clock. My husband and I took turns staying days/nights at the hospital, and my sister stayed awake all night to wake me every hour and a half, clean the pump parts, and store and label the expressed milk for the hospital.

Since I had to stay ahead of my baby’s milk consumption and we weren’t together all night, my parents set up a pumping station for me in the car, and my dad sanitized my pumping parts each night when we got home. There were some nights where I would cry because I hadn’t gotten enough milk that day to last her overnight, so my parents would drive an hour (after picking me up – I couldn’t drive yet due my cesarean) to deliver the milk I had just expressed to the hospital. There was so much going on that I couldn’t control, and I just knew that the one thing I could do for my baby was to give her the best milk to help her heal and grow.

Lauren and with her daughter

Once my sweet girl was discharged and arrived home, she screamed any time I tried to nurse her because she had gotten used to the bottle. My mom and my husband sat with me each time we tried to nurse as my daughter and I both cried, and we ended up always having to give her a bottle. All through the day and night, my husband fed her a bottle every time I pumped. We hired a lactation consultant to come to our house, and our baby finally nursed on one side successfully for almost 10 minutes! We were so incredibly excited and finally crying happy tears! Unfortunately, the next day she went back to screaming every time I tried. Continuing with lactation support, we tried so many things including an at-breast supplementer, all different kinds of slow flow bottles, and paced bottle feeding.

I found La Leche League on Facebook and was so encouraged by the social media posts about making a breastfeeding goal, so I decided that I would do everything in my power to make it to her six-month birthday. I exclusively pumped for about two months. My mom continued brainstorming and then thought to try a nipple shield. We immediately got them, and she nursed successfully! The shields seemed to feel similar to a bottle and she was able to nurse! It was a slow transition, as she would struggle even with the shields when she was especially hungry or sleepy. We used the nipple shields for 4.5 months until one day she was just suddenly able to nurse on one side without a shield! After a few more weeks, she then was nursing completely independently!

She is six months old now. Our journey was not easy, but it was so worth it and I am so thankful for my support system who made it possible for my sweet girl to breastfeed!

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