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With a Little Help

Covey Denton
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 5, September-October 2007, p. 209

Elijah James entered this world at home with a midwife after 12 hours of labor. He was my first baby and the pregnancy, labor, and first weeks were full of surprises! After a pregnancy plagued with persistent nausea and only a seven-pound weight gain after an almost 30-pound first trimester loss, Elijah came into this world at six pounds, four ounces. He refused to latch on after birth, despite our best efforts. Elijah was engaged with his hand atop his head and born fingers first. There was a lot of bleeding due to a tear in the umbilical cord and a tear in a vein in the birth canal caused by the pressure from his arm. We tried again and again to get him to latch on in an attempt to stop the bleeding, but couldn't get him on. Elijah was born at 3:26 pm and we attempted to nurse several times over the course of the afternoon. Elijah was not interested at all.

Luckily, my mother breastfed me and had been an LLL Leader. She was calm and assured me repeatedly that Elijah was fine and would nurse when he was ready. My midwife was also calm and assured me that Elijah would nurse when he was hungry. I offered the breast every half hour and my husband and I just snuggled in bed with Elijah. At about 11 pm, Elijah began retching and brought up about a cup of amniotic fluid over the next 15 minutes. When he was done, he began rooting and squirming to latch on. I eagerly presented my breast and he latched on like a pro. He nursed happily for 45 minutes and fell asleep contented. He nursed every two hours from that point onward. By his two-week checkup, Elijah had gained two and a half pounds. By his three-month checkup, he was 15 pounds. By his six-month checkup, he was 20 pounds.

Even at six months, Elijah was nursing every two hours around the clock. We had tried to wean him at night in an effort to allow me to get more sleep, but he would awaken and nothing else could comfort him. I truly felt that this “on demand” nursing was in his best interest and just worked through it. Around this time, we began to introduce solid foods and his breastfeeding sessions spaced out a bit. Now, at nine months old, he still nurses every three hours or so. Sometimes he sleeps for six hours at a time, but it's more common for him to wake up after four hours.

He continues to thrive and enjoy his mama's milk. I am thrilled that we were able to have a homebirth and establish a nursing relationship free from any intervention. So many of my friends have stories about interventions during birth and how stressful it was to establish a nursing relationship. My midwife (an LLL member) and my mom (a former LLL Leader) were instrumental in helping me establish such a positive relationship with my son. He is thriving thanks to their calming influence during those first few hours and their unwavering support when I was determined to feed my baby no matter how often he asked to be fed.

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