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He's a Natural!

By Michelle Poissant
Kitchener, Ontario Canada
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 2, March-April 2000, p. 43

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

Our first child was born four weeks premature. My labor was induced at 36 weeks due to pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure). I had quite a severe case and nearly suffered a stroke.

Connor was born via an emergency cesarean on September 2, 1999 weighing just slightly over six pounds. He was rushed to the NICU and placed under observation. That night it was discovered Connor's lungs were not completely developed. He was placed in an oxygen tent, with various other monitors and tubes hooked up to him.

This was not my ideal birth. My husband and I had had wonderful, beautiful dreams of a natural birth, in which after our baby was born, he would immediately be placed at my breast, I would feed him and we would all begin to bond as a family. Much to my horror, after Connor was born, I was moved to the intensive care unit because my blood pressure was still dangerously high. I received intravenous magnesium sulfate to try to bring down my blood pressure. My son was still in the NICU and doctors were preparing to place him on a respirator to help him breathe. Neither of us could leave our rooms, and my husband had to visit each of us separately.

Two days after Connor was born, a lactation consultant came to visit me with an electric breast pump. She assisted me with pumping. I was discouraged when after 15 minutes of pumping one breast there was just under an ounce of colostrum. The lactation consultant assured me I was making good progress. She returned every three hours to help me pump. All the colostrum that was pumped was saved and taken down to the NICU and kept in the freezer, ready for my son's first feedings. My blood pressure was still high. Finally, after three-and-a-half days, I was released from intensive care and could visit my son.

I can't describe the emotions in the NICU that day. My husband and I, and even my son's nurse were all crying when I finally got to hold my precious baby for a few short minutes out of his oxygen tent. I was so worried we hadn't had a chance to bond and that I would have trouble breastfeeding him.

I continued to pump every three to four hours for the next couple of days. My milk was being fed to Connor through a tube that ran from his nose to his stomach. Exactly one week after Connor was born and 24 hours after he came out of the oxygen tent, I was allowed to attempt to feed him. Connor's nurse and a lactation consultant were standing by. They suggested the football hold. This worked well, since he was such a tiny baby. On the first try Connor latched on and began sucking nicely. His nurse was impressed. She said to me, "It looks like the two of you have been doing this for months!"

I feel lucky that Connor was a "natural" at latching on! The lactation consultant and my nurse suggested I get some rest and come back, not for the next feeding, but the one following that. My blood pressure was still high. I was on oral medication now to try to control it.

Since Connor was on a three-hour feeding schedule, I realized I had six hours until I was needed again. I started to walk down to the NICU about half an hour before Connor needed to be fed, because I just wanted to sit by his little warmer bed and watch him sleep. As soon as I arrived in the NICU, his nurse said to me, "I was just about to come and get you." Apparently Connor had awakened early and was hungry! She explained that his last feeding didn't go well. He fussed quite a bit. He'd had a taste of being fed by his mother and didn't enjoy going back to the tube. So his nurse took his tube out. After that, I was able to feed my son every time he needed feeding.

After that, every feeding went well. Within 48 hours after I first fed Connor he was discharged from the hospital! Our doctors were amazed, as they honestly thought he'd need to stay another week or so.

At home, breastfeeding continued to go well. The football hold was the best position for us. And by the time my due date came along, Connor was already four weeks old and weighed nine pounds. Now Connor is three months old and weighs a very healthy 18 pounds, 9 ounces.

We are extremely pleased that Connor didn't have any troubles with latching on right from the start, but my story is just to let everyone know that no matter how difficult the birth (for both you and your baby), breastfeeding is definitely the best thing you can do for your child. I suffered some serious health problems as a result of the high blood pressure, and I am still recovering. As for Connor, no one would ever guess he was a little preemie whose lungs were underdeveloped at birth. He is a chubby, healthy baby with a great personality. He is easy-going and at eight weeks old, he was sleeping through the night!

We are very happy and pleased to have such a successful outcome. I hope that others who don't have a "perfect" birth story can enjoy the same fortune we have. Connor and I enjoy breastfeeding so much, I can't even imagine weaning him. That day will come sometime in the future, but for now, I enjoy every feeding and can't believe my wonderful baby had such a rough start. You'd never guess it!

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