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Nursing Carter

Amanda Kalchbrenner
From New Beginnings, Vol. 26 No. 1, 2009, pp. 21-22

My pregnancy with my son, Carter, was the best nine months of my life. After enduring two miscarriages, I feared that I would never be able to conceive and carry a baby full term. As the pregnancy progressed and my belly grew, I felt more relaxed, though I still checked Carter's heartbeat every morning. The sound of his heart beating eased my mind and I was able to function the rest of the day. I was very careful about what I ate as I wanted to give him the best nutrition in utero. I knew when he was born that I would breastfeed -- to my mind, there simply wasn't any choice in that matter.

I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital where Carter would be born. Sheila, who ran the class, was very knowledgeable and answered all my questions. I found the class really interesting and learned so much. I hoped that she would be in the hospital when Carter was born if I needed her.

I was in labor for only six hours and arrived at the hospital fully dilated. I had no pain medication and after pushing for 10 minutes, Carter was in my arms. My husband and I were in awe. He was absolutely beautiful. He latched on quickly within the first hour after birth. It was a moment I had dreamed about for nine months. We had skin-to-skin contact just as Sheila had suggested in her class. That night and the next day, Carter had a difficult time latching on to the breast and didn't seem too interested in feeding. I was so upset and cried because I wanted to breastfeed him. The nurse came and suggested that he take a little formula. She was concerned because he wasn't eating. I hesitantly agreed to this and felt like I had failed as a mother. I asked the nurse if Sheila was around and she said that she would be there later in the day.

With the help from another nurse, I was able to breastfeed later in the day. When Sheila arrived I immediately felt at ease. I told her how upset I was that Carter had had formula and she replied that babies aren't born hungry and not to worry. I immediately felt better for her support.

After a week, Carter and I were pros at breastfeeding. I never realized how demanding it would be but enjoyed every minute. Other than in our bed, I fed Carter in the living room on a chair. My mom called me frequently and asked, "Are you on the chair?" Most of the time I was and felt that I was becoming part of the chair!

I breastfed Carter exclusively for six months and slowly introduced him to fruit and vegetables. He loved everything I gave him and he is still a great eater. I am very careful about what I give him and he primarily eats organic food. Carter will soon be a year old and we are down to one feeding in the morning. It's hard to believe that I fed him at least 12 times a day! He is so healthy and I like to think my decision to breastfeed has contributed to his health. It wasn't always easy, but I was able to sleep at night knowing that Carter had the best nutrition possible. I must admit I have a very hard time understanding why some mothers don't choose to breastfeed, especially when I look at the ingredients of formula. I am a working mother and had to pump at least twice a day. I didn't enjoy doing this but wanted to for the sake of Carter's health.

I have become a huge advocate of breastfeeding and my experience, along with meeting Sheila, has inspired me to support other breastfeeding mothers. I want to help mothers as Sheila helped me.

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