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I Am a Breastfeeding Mother!

Michelle Angeletti
Estero FL USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 21 No. 6, November-December 2004, p. 211-214

When I became pregnant with my first daughter, the decision to breastfeed was an easy one. Although I had no idea that it was also good for me, I knew the health benefits of breastfeeding for my child. Even though I knew that I wanted to breastfeed, I didn’t know how to breastfeed. Perhaps it was my surging hormone levels or a strange aspect of my personality, but the fact that I didn’t know how to breastfeed was of major concern to me. This concern was also compounded by the fact that I had no one in my family who could provide me with any guidance.

My grandmother breastfed six children, but she was no longer around to share her insights with me. My mother never breastfed so she could not provide any information or support.

As the pregnancy progressed and large blue veins began to provide an interesting pattern on my swelling breasts, I started to feel anxious about how I would actually breastfeed. I looked closely at my breasts, and they weren’t revealing any of their secrets. I decided that I could get the information I needed at a breastfeeding class offered at the local hospital.

The class provided good information about breast anatomy, milk let-down and how often I needed to nurse my newborn. Also, the lactation consultant explained how important it was to let the hospital staff know that I was planning to breastfeed. At one point during class, the lactation consultant pulled out a little plastic doll. She passed it around the room so that we could all practice different positions of nursing at our breasts. I felt complete disappointment. I knew that this plastic doll was not going to help me figure out how to breastfeed. When my turn came to hold the doll, I put her plastic head gently in my hand and put her plastic lips close to my shirt. Her little plastic lips stayed tightly shut. Disappointed, I went home.

After 41 long weeks of pregnancy, my physician explained to me that because I had a bicorniated uterus and was not dilating, she recommended that I have a scheduled cesarean birth. I was in shock. We had never discussed a cesarean, and now I was scheduled to have one in two days! I had little time to prepare myself psychologically for this procedure. I hadn’t figured out how I was going to breastfeed after a normal delivery. Was I going to be able to breastfeed after a cesarean? I did some quick research and found out that women can breastfeed after cesarean births. I quickly devised a plan of action. First, I would let the hospital staff know that I was going to breastfeed. Second, I was going to put the baby to my breast as soon as possible after surgery. Third, I was going to request assistance as often as needed to get breastfeeding figured out once I had a real baby with real lips in my arms.

The delivery day arrived with much excitement and anticipation. My daughter, Sophia Santa, was joyously delivered into the world. When I was taken back to my room, my first thoughts were that I needed to hold my new baby and put her to my breast to nurse. Unfortunately, either during or soon after my surgery, I was given too much morphine. I tried to nurse my baby in bed, but I was too weak, dizzy, and tired. How was I going to nurse if I couldn’t even hold her? I felt like crying.

Sophia was bathed and placed under a heat lamp like fries at a fast food restaurant. I was placed on a sleep apnea machine. I remember the nurse telling my family, "Whenever this machine beeps, wake her up and tell her to breathe deeply." I kept falling asleep, the machine kept beeping, and my family kept waking me up and urging me to breathe deeply. At one point I remember that Sophia was under the heat lamp crying. The nurse told me that she was crying because she was hungry and said that we should give her some formula because I couldn’t nurse her. I felt so incompetent and guilty. I didn’t want my baby to be hungry so I agreed to let the nurse give her formula. I don’t remember much more about that day or the night that followed.

The next day the morphine had worn off, and I felt much better. I had my energy back, and I was determined to breastfeed my baby! Fortunately, shifts had changed, and I got a new nurse who supported my efforts to breastfeed. She spent several hours with me helping to get Sophia latched on correctly. I was so excited when I felt my milk come in. By the time we left the hospital, I was a breastfeeding mother. I was so happy and proud.

Since then, I have had two more beautiful breastfed daughters, Victoria and Francesca. Although my breastfeeding journey was challenging, I think that it was successful because of my determination to breastfeed. Regardless of the obstacles, I refused to give up. Breastfeeding was important to me, and I always stayed committed to my goal. I am a breastfeeding mother!

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