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No Better Feeling

Shevonne Pacheco
Brooklyn, NY, USA
From New Beginnings, Vol. 28 No. 3, 2009, p. 27

It's crazy what happens in your life to make you think about what's important. Shortly after my daughter turned six, my younger sister-in-law gave birth to her third child. My husband and I decided it was time for us to have a second baby When eventually I conceived Sean I couldn't have been happier.

I had breastfed my daughter only for a few weeks following her birth. I was young and naïve at the time. I had thought I could do everything on my own and when I was offered help with latching-on and nursing techniques, I declined. After about three weeks I developed some flu-like symptoms and started taking some over-the-counter cold medicine. Scared that the medication would get into my milk and thus into my daughter, I stopped breastfeeding altogether without even consulting a doctor. Now, many years later, I regret not getting more information.

No other women in my family had nursed their children and most were firm believers in bottle feeding. After all, I was bottle fed and I turned out okay, right? Every time I mentioned breastfeeding to my family, I got weird looks. I guess I can't blame them since it wasn't a part of their experience.

Breastfeeding was a gift I could give my baby and I saw it as my God-given right as a woman. When I was pregnant the second time, I armed myself with knowledge. I purchased La Leche League International's book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding along with a few popular pregnancy books, because I wanted to have all of the information necessary to nurse my son for as long as possible. I also became a member of LLL when I was in my third trimester.

I became a big advocate of nursing and tried to encourage my sister-in-law to nurse her son. She had difficulty breastfeeding and, even though she had my support, she didn't have support from anyone else, and she decided not to continue trying. Seeing her struggle didn't deter me from my goal to breastfeed exclusively for as long as possible.

I planned to give birth naturally and to nurse my baby right away. To my dismay, my labor was very long and caused my son to go into distress. I was rushed into the operating room with tears flowing down my cheeks, hoping my son would come into this world healthy. When I was in the recovery room, I recalled the chapter in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding in which I'd read about breastfeeding following a cesarean birth. I remembered all of the nursing positions and I began to think about my first nursing attempt with my new baby.

As soon as I was in my room, I told the nurses that I wanted my baby to "room-in" with me so I wouldn't lose any more time with him. He latched on immediately and I couldn't believe how much of a voracious feeder he was. I made sure the nurses didn't give him a bottle when he was brought into the nursery for check-ups to avoid any possible nipple confusion. We had some minor issues in the beginning that were fixed by learning a few compression techniques from the hospital's lactation consultant. Soon we became a happy nursing couple.

Back home there were one or two obstacles to overcome. After breastfeeding for about three months, my baby developed thrush and passed it to me. A doctor advised that I stop nursing my son immediately for at least two weeks and recommended that I "pump and dump" my milk if I wanted to continue breastfeeding. Needless to say, I was devastated. After a lot of crying and re-reading my books and online articles on breastfeeding, I decided to call one of my local LLL Leaders.

She was wonderful and supported me in my decision to continue breastfeeding. I was happy to hear her tips on what I could do to alleviate my symptoms. I then got a second opinion from my regular gynecologist, who advised me to continue nursing my son. I was thrilled! In my heart I knew what was best for my baby; I just needed to hear it from others whose opinion I trusted. After a few weeks, we were 100 percent back to normal.

My son is now almost nine months old, healthy, growing, and happily still nursing. He is on solids now but still looks to me for his "che che" in between meals and at least twice during the night. I couldn't be more pleased. There is no better feeling than to be able to do this wonderful thing for him and to see his beautiful milky smile when he looks up at me during the day or his drowsy face when he drifts off to sleep at night. We are looking forward to nursing for a while yet.

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