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Rough Road

Gretchen S.
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 9, July-August, p. 134

I had always planned on breastfeeding my baby. I did everything to prepare: I read books, talked to other breastfeeding mothers, and went to a La Leche League Group meeting before my baby was born. Everyone said it wouldn't be easy, but that after a few weeks I'd be a pro. I felt ready. Nothing could have prepared me for the rough road I was about to take.

My husband and I eagerly awaited the birth of our first child. Much to our surprise, our baby came six weeks early with an emergency cesarean. Emotions were high. We couldn't wait to see our baby! Sage was a beautiful, healthy, little girl and was everything we'd hoped for. Our lives were forever changed.

Because she was premature, she had to stay in the hospital for 10 days. The hardest day for my husband and me was the day I was released to go home and Sage had to stay. We lived an hour away from the hospital so I used a pump to express my milk for her. Every day we would go to see her. I would breastfeed first and then the nurses would give her a bottle with my milk. She would latch on very well at the breast, but then she would fall asleep. As she got older, though, she was able to stay awake at the breast.

After we brought her home, I stopped pumping and fed her whatever she needed from the breast. We had a very rough time for two months. I had built up a very large milk supply, since I had been pumping every three hours while she was in the hospital. I was producing more milk than she could drink and she would choke on it. She also seemed to have a very strong suck, and I wasn't expecting it to feel that way.

My husband would come home for lunch to find me nursing her with tears folling down my face. It was a lot harder than I had expected. I told him I didn't know if I could continue to breastfeed much longer. He felt bad that Sage and I were having a hard time but encouraged us to continue. For several weeks he would tell me how well I was doing and not to give up. If he hadn't supported me through this tough time I don't know if I would still be breastfeeding today. He was amazing. Soon, though, my supply regulated so it matched her needs and she no longer choked. When she was about two months old, Sage and I finally got it. Not long after what was her actual due date, the discomfort from her strong suck disappeared. It was as if one day we woke up and it was perfect.

Everyone says it's natural but that doesn't mean breastfeeding is always easy. The best suggestion I can give is to stick with it, because that rough road gets smoother as you go along. It also helps to have a very supportive husband. Sage is now 11 months old and still breastfeeding. I wouldn't change it for anything and I have no plans to wean anytime soon!

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