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Gina Peterson
Los Alamos NM USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 21 No. 4, July-August 2004, p. 135

My 18-month-old son, Ethan, is finally over a bad case of the flu. It all began after we drove three hours away to attend my older son's friend's birthday party. Since we did not want to drive back home the same day, we made reservations to stay at a local motel for the night. At the party, Ethan started vomiting. It was a surprise that he was sick because he ate a little bit of food at the party and played with the other children. We left for the motel and had dinner in our room. Ethan vomited maybe 15 times during the evening and early morning. He wanted to breastfeed so much, but every time he did, he vomited again. I felt very bad for him. His nursing cure-all was only making him feel even more sick.

The next morning I called his pediatrician and got the last appointment of the day at noon. My husband drove us back to Los Alamos as quickly as possible. Ethan's pediatrician, who is very supportive of breastfeeding, said he was slightly dehydrated, but he must have been keeping some of my milk down. She suggested giving him an oral rehydration drink in addition to my milk. We were to offer him a few teaspoons of liquid every five minutes. However, Ethan wasn't interested in the rehydration drink and took mostly water and my milk. I was so glad I was still nursing him!

I had to change the way I nursed him. I would wait for my let-down, let him suck a few times, and then take him off the breast. In some ways it was like relearning how to breastfeed. I figured out that if he only took a small amount, he could keep it down. He wasn't very happy about this and I wasn't, either. He is such a good-natured baby that, after a while, all I had to do was say "stop" and he would stop nursing.

Sometimes I would let him nurse for too long and then he would vomit. It was quite an art trying to figure out how much milk was appropriate. I could literally see the law of supply and demand in action with respect to my breasts providing milk. The first day or two of Ethan's illness, my breasts were engorged. Eventually, my body responded to the situation and Ethan was not overwhelmed with a flood of milk.

After a day of having to breastfeed Ethan in this manner, I slowly extended the length of his nursing sessions. Eventually, he finished one side after two brief nursings and then finally in one nursing, which is his usual routine.

Ethan did not eat solid food for about four days and wanted to be held constantly for a week. Because of my experience with La Leche League, I knew to just follow his lead in terms of nursing and to watch his diapers. I just put other things on hold and held my baby.

Now my son is almost back to his old self. His appetite is ravenous for solid food and my milk. He is most likely just trying to regain some of the weight he lost while sick. His sleeping routine is not very regular yet, but I am sure he'll find his own pattern soon.

Since dehydration can be so serious for a little child, I can't imagine what would have happened had Ethan not been nursing. Would he have had to go into the hospital? Maybe. For this reason and dozens of others, I feel so blessed to still be nursing my son.

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