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Breastfeeding Rewards

Heidi Fanning
Pocatell ID USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 2, March-April 2005, pp. 56-57

Many mothers decide during pregnancy whether or not they will breastfeed their children. I, on the other hand, made my decision while I was still a breastfeeding toddler myself!

My wonderful mother breastfed all seven of her children well into toddlerhood, she was (and is) the best mother that I have ever known. I admire many of her parenting practices. While breastfeeding is only one of the many ways in which she nurtured her children, I believe that it has had a significant impact on the physical and emotional health of her children.

When my husband, Will, and I were considering starting our family, we had many discussions about how we would parent our children. Breastfeeding was a simple and obvious choice. Will even wrote a paper for one of his college classes on the benefits of human milk verses artificial infant milk.

During my pregnancy, I read every book and article I could find on breastfeeding. I even took a breastfeeding class at the hospital. The how-to of breastfeeding seemed simple enough, and although some of the possible difficulties such as nipple soreness, plugged ducts, thrush, and mastitis sounded scary, I was sure that I could handle any problem.

On August 5, 2002, my precious daughter, Hannah Rose, arrived. Unfortunately, she had a serious infection that caused her to pass a large amount of meconium, some of which she aspirated. She was immediately whisked off to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), where she spent the first eight days of her life. We were so worried about our sweet little baby! She had trouble breathing and absorbing oxygen. There was also the risk of sepsis and meningitis. Hannah endured painful tests of all kinds and was put on two types of IV antibiotics and given oxygen. There was little that my husband and I could do for her but pray.

As soon as I was taken to a recovery room, I requested a breast pump even though I knew that my baby couldn't eat yet, I had to start pumping right away. I used an electric breast pump every two or three hours, but was able to produce very little colostrum. I hoped that I could make more the following day, but, as it turned out, I produced even less. By the third day, I was pumping even less milk and my baby was being fed artificial milk from a bottle.

Then, on the morning of August 9th, the miracle I'd been waiting for finally occurred: my milk came in. To many, this fact would not seem very important, but I wept with joy when I was able to produce almost two ounces of milk for my little Hannah Rose. I had been praying for the blessing of nursing my baby, and now I knew that I could.

At first, Hannah was given my milk in a bottle, but soon I was allowed to breastfeed her. It took some practice and a little more help from the lactation consultant, but we were soon nursing like pros!

Fourteen months later, Hannah and I are still a very happy nursing couple. She is an incredibly active and healthy toddler, but I still cherish the time we spend quietly nursing. I am so glad that I did not simply give up when I had trouble producing milk for my baby. I am eternally grateful to the wonderful lactation consultant who helped me when I needed help so desperately.

I encourage all expectant mothers to learn as much as they can about breastfeeding, and to seek help and support if and when they experience any problems with breastfeeding. The rewards of breastfeeding are more than worth the effort.

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