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La Leche League International
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Support is Essential

Jennifer J.
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 3, May-June 2002, p. 93

I am a first-time mother and I thought that I had prepared for the beginning necessities thoroughly. I read various materials, took classes, met with the hospital staff, talked with other mothers, and went into the birth experience with confidence. Well, did my world get turned upside down!

After almost 24 hours of active labor I was drained of all energy and confidence. What I thought would just come naturally turned out to be a real challenge to overcome. Feeling fatigued with less than two hours of sleep, I knew my beautiful and hungry daughter was ready to nurse. She tried her hardest but couldn't succeed. My breasts were huge and her petite mouth was doing its best just to get the nipple in, let alone the areola.

When we left the hospital with Alora Rae, she had jaundice and was still unable to breastfeed. When I arrived home, my mother was there from out of state. Aside from my mother I knew no one else who had breastfed and was willing to help, so if it had not been for her I may have given up the challenge.

Breastfeeding did not come naturally for us. My baby's mouth muscles would tire out after a short period of nursing. It took two whole weeks of pumping my breasts before every feeding, then latching my daughter on when my milk had let down, and using the supplemental nursing system (SNS) to ensure that she was getting enough milk until the jaundice had gone away.

My mother encouraged me to contact my local La Leche League for additional moral support and they were phenomenal. Like my mother, they were patient and positive. Breastfeeding began to feel more natural around three months. Now she's almost a year and we hope to continue for some time. I am lucky to have a husband, friends, and family who support our decision. Alora and I both will decide when the time is right for us to move past breastfeeding. We have made it through rude comments, clogged ducts, mastitis, teething, and an unsupportive society.

I encourage all mothers to make sure that they have a postpartum support network to ensure breastfeeding success. I hope that our society will begin to be more breastfeeding conscious, educated, and friendly. Whatever comes your way, know that with determination, you and your baby can experience the priceless and loving bond of breastfeeding. Don't give up!

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