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Always Learning

Paula M. Hostler
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 25, No. 1, January-February 2008, p. 18

On September 8, 2007, we welcomed our daughter, Amanda Grace, into the world. Up to that point I had been an LLL Leader for five years, an LLL member for 10 years, and had nursed all three of my sons into toddlerhood. I felt prepared and confident to go forward nursing Amanda. She nursed within minutes of her birth, latching on well and making me confident that her nursing experience would go like clockwork. After that she fell into the deep sleep very typical of newborns within their first 24 hours of life.

Upon waking, she was still very sleepy and would latch on well, stimulate a strong let-down, and then drift off to sleep after two to three sucks. Immediately I started worrying that she wasn't offering enough stimulation to bring in my milk. I also struggled with nursing. The contractions were as long and as strong as labor itself. Thankfully, my milk came in at two days after birth. Now I felt sure that Amanda would nurse longer with a good milk supply ready and waiting for her. Instead, she continued to fall asleep easily at the breast, sometimes needed to be awakened for feedings, and wasn't stooling. A weight check confirmed that she had lost 10 percent of her birth weight and was gaining very slowing. She did appear satisfied after nursings and showed no signs of dehydration. I worried about her even though I was doing everything I had always counseled new moms to do -- nursing on demand for as long as she wanted, not spacing feedings any further apart than two hours, and making sure she had plenty of wet diapers. Yet Amanda wasn't gaining as she was supposed to.

At the two-week mark, she still was below her birth weight. At about three weeks of age, she started to nurse better for longer periods of time, and started stooling several times a day. At around four weeks of age, Amanda was back up to her birth weight. At one point, she gained 14 ounces in about one and a half week's time -- phenomenal!

She's eight weeks old now and doing great. I was in the kind of situation where supplementation is often recommended. I'm glad I was an experienced and confident breastfeeding mother and I knew how to tell she was doing fine. I had a breastfeeding-friendly care provider who looked at her as well. I'm so glad I followed my instincts and gave her all that she needed for a great start in life -- my milk and my love!

Editor's Note: La Leche League encourages new mothers to monitor their babies' weights. Looking at baby frequently helps assure a mother and health care providers that baby is doing well, but weighing can also offer helpful information.

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