The Best Laid Plans
Duluth, MN, USA
From New Beginnings, Vol. 26 No. 2, 2009, p. 15
I decided early in my pregnancy that I wanted a natural birth and would breastfeed and cosleep after my baby arrived. I read books, attended natural birth and breastfeeding classes, met La Leche League Leaders, attended prenatal yoga classes, and practiced relaxing.
Well, we all know what they say about "the best laid plans"! After 36 hours of active labor, my planned home birth turned into a hospital trip and a non-emergency cesarean section due to my high blood pressure and swelling cervix. The worst part of the whole experience was being separated from my son for an hour or so after the surgery. It was hospital policy, even though we were both healthy. I was grateful for the support of my midwife and doula and for the birth plan I had written, which now became more important as a baby plan: it specifically stated that no pacifiers or formula should be used. My husband spent that first crucial hour cuddling our son to his chest while I willed my legs to move (the requirement to get out of recovery) so I could go nurse my baby!
When we finally did meet, Kelton latched on fine but promptly fell asleep. He seemed so content and I couldn't really figure out how to latch him on anyway, so we just assumed he wasn't hungry. But as his weight began to drop, a steady stream of nurses suggested different holds or encouraged formula. A lactation consultant suggested expressing my milk into a spoon and feeding it to Kelton to wake him up a bit to nurse more. We kept that up, along with cold washcloths and other attempts to wake him up. Kelton barely met the weight requirement when we were released a few days later.
Again, I was so grateful for the support of my midwife (a former LLL Leader), who began visiting daily to weigh Kelton and encourage our nursing efforts. By the fourth day, even she was starting to talk about supplementing. We set the alarm clock for a strict schedule of nursing every two hours to try to get my milk to come in and, luckily, it came in the next day! Kelton started gaining weight and we didn't look back.
Cosleeping worked very well to enable frequent nursing, especially once I figured out the side-lying position. We successfully weathered plugged ducts, a round of thrush, and sore nipples. We attended LLL meetings and I really appreciated being able to call Leaders when I had a question or even just to experience that sense of community with other nursing mothers. Kelton even "helped" staff the fundraising garage sale from his sling when he was just six weeks old. I started reading New Beginnings, which helped me in the next part of our journey: reluctantly going back to work and pumping. I found a daycare provider, who was also a former LLL Leader, and who supported our plan to avoid formula completely. By pumping two to three times a day (often while reading New Beginnings!), eating milk-promoting foods, using a little fenugreek, and continuing to breastfeed, I was able to keep up a steady supply and met my goal of providing all the milk Kelton needed for his entire first year.
I am still pumping while at work and enjoying a strong nursing connection with Kelton. He's sensitive to dairy products, so I want to offer him the benefits of my milk for as long as possible. He's a very healthy and happy little guy, and I definitely credit that to the amazing power of momma-milk!
One of the hardest parts of going back to work was missing out on LLL meetings and other moms' gatherings. Luckily, a working mother and LLL Leader started hosting evening meetings. I attend those with Kelton, offering ideas to other members about how to keep up their supply and nurse while working. I'm grateful to LLL Leaders and members, past and present, for all the support I've received.
I hope to continue my connection to this great Group as Kelton grows up. I've learned that while books and Web sites are valuable resources, it's really the community of people that help make nursing and natural parenting a success!
Editor's Note: See http://store.llli.org/public/profile/370 for Breastfeeding after Cesarean Birth This tear-off sheet provides information for mothers who are interested in breastfeeding after a cesarean birth. Discusses choosing a hospital, the benefits of rooming in, types of medication, positioning, and more.