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Try and Try Again

Joanna Emery
Dundas, Ontario, Canada
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 4, July-August 2000, pg. 121

We provide articles from our publications from previous years for reference for our Leaders and members. Readers are cautioned to remember that research and medical information change over time.

When I gave birth to my first child, Veronica, 10 years ago, I was young and naive. Breastfeeding went smoothly, but after one month, I felt worn down by new motherhood. My family doctor suggested I take a "break" and have someone give my daughter a bottle. Needless to say, nursing stopped soon afterward, but seven years later, when I had my son, I made a new commitment to breastfeeding.

It was a joy to nurse Monty in the delivery room - an experience I didn't have with my first baby. A week later, difficulties set in when I developed mastitis. I started antibiotics and continued to nurse but unfortunately, the mastitis reoccurred. My doctor told me that I should wean my son to a bottle as the new antibiotic I was to be prescribed was not "baby-friendly." It was a sad day when I last breastfed my son. At the time, I felt I had no choice, but have since learned that I could have had more say in the decision. By the time my son was a month old, I had a full-blown breast abscess. I believe this was due in part to the sudden weaning. I had surgery and required home-care to change the dressings on my wound for the next six weeks.

I thought that would be my last experience at nursing but I was wrong! Two years later, I was surprised to find out I was pregnant. It wasn't an easy pregnancy and I almost lost the baby. Frequent ultrasounds showed that the baby might have a "stressed bowel." I was told that could mean the baby might be fussier than most at feeding times. I was more determined than ever to give this new child the best possible start in life. That meant that I wanted to breastfeed. Many people, including my own mother, thought I was crazy. "After all you've been through," they'd say, "why not just start the baby on a bottle?" But I wanted to try to take one day at a time.

When my second daughter, Mimi, was born she nursed right away and all went well. Since I had a rather abundant milk supply, my midwife suggested I nurse her only on one side per feeding. This proved to be the best advice I'd ever received. As it turned out, Mimi was healthy but rather colicky. Her colic improved when I nursed her on only one side per feeding. I feel sure formula would have only made her digestive troubles worse. When she started eating solids, I thought that I might be developing mastitis again due to the change in her nursing pattern. I talked to my doctor right away, who prescribed a course of antibiotics that helped keep everything under control. Despite relatively smaller challenges such as thrush and teething, Mimi and I are still a happy breastfeeding couple.

We went to our first LLL meeting when she was three weeks old and we continue to go every month. I'm grateful for the support the other mothers give and have even introduced a pregnant friend of mine to the meetings. Although I am saddened when women I know tell me they don't want to even try to breastfeed their newborns, I'm glad that I was given another chance. When my little one is nursing sleepily in my arms, it is one of the most precious times of my life, and worth every moment.

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