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Nursing Comfort

Sheri Biggers
Clute, TX USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 6, November-December 2005, pp. 247-248

My daughter, Haley, was born in December of 2004. Before her birth, I had read about La Leche League, but I had never been to any of the meetings. On my own, I gathered breastfeeding information, watched videos, found support contacts, and read as much as I could about breastfeeding on various Internet sites. I felt ready for what I thought would be a wonderful bonding experience.

When Haley was born, however, I was unable to hold or feed her. She had complications from aspirating meconium and was placed on IVs and not allowed to breastfeed. All her nutrition for the first three days came from the IV. I only saw her for a few seconds. I didn't get the wonderful experience I was hoping for of being able to nurse her within the first hour of birth. In fact, it was three days before I was able to hold her and three-and-a-half days before I was able to attempt to breastfeed her.

My husband went to the nursery to get me a breast pump so that I could at least stimulate milk production for Haley. When I finally got my pump, I was very discouraged. It looked like an old meat grinder and was loud and bulky.

It didn't seem to be doing the trick either because I wasn't getting much milk. I pumped every two hours for 10 minutes on each side and it began to get discouraging when I was producing so little.

What I didn't know was that what I was producing was "liquid gold." The nurses had me save every drop of colostrom I collected and said that they would feed all of it to Haley.

Haley spent three days in the hospital after I was discharged, but I rarely left the hospital. When I did, I asked the nurses to call me if Haley needed to nurse.

My first experience with nursing her was a challenge in itself. She was hungry, but didn't know what to do. She just couldn't latch on.

But after the initial rough start, Haley took to breastfeeding well. Once she found out where her food was coming from, all I had to do was relax and enjoy our nursing experience. I'm not saying it was easy before both of us got things down. Considering what I think were big odds against our success, I'm proud to say I'm still breastfeeding.

I am very grateful for the help of La Leche League of Lake Jackson, Texas, USA. I began going to meetings after Haley first came home from the hospital. I think she was barely a month old.

When Haley was seven weeks old, we traveled out of state. She got a touch of the stomach flu. After breastfeeding, she would vomit and then want to nurse again. I was on the verge of tears when I called an LLL Leader. She assured me that although it seemed trying and tiresome to keep nursing, my milk was the best thing for my daughter. Haley would be fine and my milk would help her get better faster. I listened and, through it all, I kept nursing. Within a day or so Haley was already getting better. Her first growth spurts were another difficult time for me. I thought something was wrong with my supply, but a Leader reassured me that Haley was just growing and needed more milk.

My husband, my friends, LLL, and my mother-in-law all supported me and I'm proud to say that, at seven months, I am still breastfeeding my daughter. She does eat solid food, but it's evident that she prefers the comfort and security of nursing. Any time she is scared, hurt, cranky, or crying, all she needs is my milk and she's happy. Even when she gets her shots, nursing comforts her afterwards.

She is now teething and yes, I've already been bitten, but I'm not stopping. I feel it's just another milestone in our relationship. I'm determined to nurse Haley until she is at least one year old and as long as she wants to after that. I have no set date for stopping. I know it's what is best for her. As long as she finds it comforting, then I see no reason to stop. I even find it comforting to nurse her when I notice I'm down or out of energy or upset. It has a natural calming effect. I love being able to hold her and cuddle with her as she looks up from my breast before she drifts off to sleep. It's as if she is saying, "I love you Mommy! Good night!"

I have been a stay-at-home mother since her birth, but I will be returning to school in the fall as a student teacher. I plan to pump while away from her so that she still receives my milk. I am proud to say Haley has always been a breastfed baby. I haven't left her often during the last seven months, but when I do, after I get home she's waiting, as if saying, "I'm ready Mommy. Are you?" She shows so such excitement to see me, but the first thing she wants to do is nurse. The first thing I'm ready to do when I see her is to give her the one thing that is the most comforting in the world for her: my milk!

I just want to tell other mothers that even if you cannot breastfeed right away, it does not mean you won't be able to breastfeed. I would like to thank La Leche League for making me realize that I wasn't the only one to experience difficulties and feel like giving up. They encouraged me to just keep going. Thank you, La Leche League, for helping me when I needed it the most.

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