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Experience Breeds Confidence

Laurie Ann B.
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 3, May-June 2001, p. 95-96

I recently gave birth to my third child. After a relatively easy labor and delivery, my son and I got off to a great start with breastfeeding. He latched on right after delivery and breastfed well. I didn't anticipate any problems. About eight hours later, he hadn't yet nursed again. I wasn't too concerned because I knew that babies are born with plenty of fluids at birth. He was very sleepy and I had trouble getting him interested in nursing. However, my first baby had been sleepy for about 24 hours, so this seemed normal to me. One of the nurses stopped by to take my baby's temperature and said it was low. I explained that I was having trouble getting him interested in nursing and that I had undressed him to try to awaken him. She insisted that I should give him a bottle because he was probably hypoglycemic. She said he needed calories and that this was the reason his temperature was low.

My first two children were breastfed well into toddlerhood, so I am very experienced with breastfeeding. Yet I felt overwhelmed when other members of the nursing staff also insisted I give my baby a bottle. I had not yet slept for any length of time, and their sense of urgency wore on what little patience I had. At one point, one nurse told me that I had only another hour to get my baby latched on and if I didn't have him latched on by that time, he would have to be given a bottle. I told her that I didn't think that he would take a bottle because he was showing no interest in the breast.

I finally insisted that I needed to be alone with my baby. I explained that I would keep trying until breastfeeding worked. I knew that I needed to work with gentle persistence and woo my baby to my breast, rather than rushing him. Eventually I did, but I felt as if I was under tremendous pressure to succeed. When I think back to that experience, I wonder what I would have done if this had been my first baby. I can't help wondering how many other women have had a similar experience and ended up bottle-feeding. My baby and I are just fine and he's a healthy 17 pounds at three and a half months old-exclusively breastfed, of course!

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