From New Beginnings, Vol. 26 No. 1, 2009, pp. 12-13
When I became pregnant, I was really worried about getting back into shape after my baby's birth. I am 5'4" and was 112 lb before I got pregnant. My husband repeatedly encouraged and comforted me by saying, "It will be fine, don't worry." He mentioned that if I wanted to lose weight quickly, I should breastfeed our child exclusively. I was in favor of breastfeeding right away!
When I was seven months pregnant, I was shopping at one of the local grocery stores. A woman in front of me in line engaged me in conversation and asked me if I planned to breastfeed. When I said yes, she took a card out and wrote down her name and phone number, telling me about local monthly meetings for breastfeeding mothers. I later learned that Annette was one of the Leaders in my local La Leche League Group.
I had a very easy labor and my baby girl, Alexandra, came into the world only eight hours after my water broke. However, breastfeeding was very difficult until I found La Leche League. My milk came in on the third day after Alexandra was born and I was so engorged that she could not latch on. I called one of the hospital recommended lactation consultants near our house and she suggested that I needed to pump right away. Not only that, I had very sore nipples, which did not heal for a long time, so I hesitated to put Alexandra to my breast. Instead, I pumped and fed her with a bottle. I thought I would do this for the first three months and then be done!
Six weeks later, I was still not comfortable with breastfeeding. I still had sore nipples every now and then and I had milk oversupply. I had to pump every two or three hours, otherwise I would feel engorged and in pain. I complained, complained, and complained. Finally, my husband told me that I should investigate LLL in our city. I searched for it online and found contact information on the LLLI Web site. I got through to LLL Leader, Alisa, who immediately welcomed me to attend the monthly meetings.
My baby and I went to the next meeting and I was so glad to meet some new moms there. Getting out of the house was refreshing and relaxing after staying home for weeks. We chatted and chatted. I asked lots of questions. Finally, I asked Alisa if it was okay for me to show her the problems I was experiencing with Alexandra's latch-on. Alisa helped me to correct Alexandra's position. It made a huge difference and I felt very comfortable nursing her. Actually, I made up my mind at that moment to nurse her directly at the breast. I cannot thank Alisa enough.
From that point on, I have been exclusively breastfeeding Alexandra. No pumps and no bottles. By the way, she does a much better job at emptying my breasts than those machines! At the following meetings, I received help to solve additional problems I encountered, such as milk oversupply, nursing strikes, and how to feed my baby as she grew bigger and that old position just did not work any longer. I cannot thank LLL enough. I became a member on my second visit.
Now Alexandra is almost five months old and I have decided to breastfeed her for at least another four months for several reasons.
First, and most obviously, breastfeeding is the best natural bonding method between mother and child. I enjoy watching her nursing. She looks so happy and relaxed and I feel so good that she seems so soothed whenever she is at my breast.
Secondly, human milk is the best and safest food for my baby. I was born in China and was very angry when I learned of the recent baby formula scandal in my country. I cried when I heard of those poor babies who died or became extremely ill when the formula milk they drank contained melamine.
Thirdly, one of the wonderful benefits of exclusive breastfeeding is that I can lose weight faster. I am not 100 percent back to my old shape yet, but with the help of breastfeeding, a healthy diet, and regular exercise I am already slimmer. I believe that we are meant to breastfeed and this is the power of nature and a gift from God.
I am eager to give back to the community by supporting other breastfeeding mothers. Beijing and Shanghai are the only two cities in China that have regular LLL meetings and help for now. I want to bring LLL to my hometown when I move back to China so that I can share what I have learned in the States.