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Best For My Baby

Alison Shook
Gresham OR USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 17 No. 3, May-June 2000, pp. 85-86

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.

January 13, 1999 was the best day of my life. After 20 hours of labor, my first child was born. I had never felt so much love for another human being. I began nursing her shortly after the birth. The nurse who helped me get her latched on for the first time was very nice. It hurt a lot but I persevered. Despite my incredible fatigue, I could not sleep. I just stared at this beautiful creature. She nursed great that day and night.

The day after my daughter's birth was the worst day of my life. My tiny daughter had what the doctors believed to be a mild seizure. She was taken from me less than 24 hours after she was born and put in a neonatal intensive care unit. The doctors immediately gave her medication to prevent more seizures. I felt as though I couldn't breathe, as though I would just collapse and die on the spot. I could not stop crying. My husband was very supportive, thankfully, which is what I needed. The doctors said our daughter was experiencing minor brain irritation and inflammation, probably the result of the vacuum extraction used at her birth. A CT scan revealed a small amount of bleeding in her brain. The neurologist who evaluated her concluded that she was going to be fine and told us that this sort of thing was actually pretty common after a hard birth. That night my husband held me as I lay in my hospital bed and sobbed. Our baby remained in the NICU for five long days. Leaving the hospital without my child was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Fortunately, we lived only three miles from the hospital. I had bought a Medela breast pump just before I had gone into labor. The first day our daughter was in the NICU she could not be fed orally, only through an IV. It seemed as if I was constantly pumping my milk. I would go home, pump, try to sleep for a few hours, then return to the hospital. On the second day, she was allowed to have a few milliliters of my milk. On the third day, I was able to breastfeed her again. My nipples were very sore from pumping, but I didn't care. I just wanted to hold her close and tell her everything was going to be all right as I nursed her. I remember telling her that I needed her to be okay, that I couldn't survive without her. As my daughter gazed into my eyes, I felt a strong bond with her. During our first week at home, I just stayed in bed with her, stared at her, and nursed her. This is how it should have been from the beginning. Instead of nesting with my newborn, I had spent the first week of her life running back and forth to the hospital, surviving on three to four hours of sleep each night. I knew that my milk was the best for my baby, even if it meant getting up at 3 AM, going out to a cold car, and driving the three miles to her, still half asleep.

I suffered from sore nipples. Using Lansinoh® for Breastfeeding Mothers helped significantly with this problem. It seemed as though my daughter wanted to nurse a lot. At one point, early in my daughter's life, I wondered if I was producing enough milk. My husband and I, being first time parents, almost decided to give her formula. But first, I called my sister-in-law for help. She had breastfed her two children. She wasn't home, but my brother was. Reluctantly, I told him my dilemma. To my surprise, he told me exactly what I needed to hear - that I was doing the right thing by breastfeeding and that I would produce enough milk for my baby. He told me to just keep on nursing her as long as she wants to nurse. I couldn't believe this could be coming from my brother! I was so touched.

I have suffered from a few plugged ducts. The best thing for that was a heating pad, massaging the affected breast, and frequent nursing, even though it was very painful. Also, avoiding bras with underwire is key to preventing plugged ducts. I once fell asleep with an underwire bra on, only to wake up with a plugged duct!

Today my daughter is almost 11 months old and couldn't be healthier. She has just started to take her first steps and is a beautiful, happy baby. I am still breastfeeding her and plan on continuing until she is ready to be weaned.

My best advice to new nursing mothers is to persevere! Breastfeeding may be hard at first, but it does get easier. Surround yourself with supportive people. Breastfeeding is the best thing you can do for your baby whatever the circumstance.

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