Dawn Tucker, Uzbekistan & Florida, USA
I live in Uzbekistan, but flew back to my home in Florida to have my baby girl, Josephine, and to be near friends and family. We stayed for three months: six weeks before and six weeks after the birth before returning to Uzbekistan.
Reaching out to La Leche League
Since I’d heard breastfeeding does not always come naturally, I reached out to La Leche League via Facebook. Genny Stiller in Pensacola replied with a lot of information, good links, and books to check out. I had a doula and friends who breastfed so thought that would be enough, but it wasn’t. I had only one opportunity to get to an LLL meeting, when my little one was four weeks old, and I knew I would soon be heading back overseas.
I was an emotional basket case when I walked into that meeting and had more questions than I care to remember.
I was concerned that I was breastfeeding “for comfort,” which I didn’t think I should be doing, though now I look forward to it.
Genny welcomed me and explained that a baby needs to be held; that the comfort a baby needs and that you can give creates a strong bond between mother and child. Following my baby’s lead would help to establish my milk supply and there was nothing wrong with feeding for comfort or nursing her to sleep. Indeed that’s a natural and good thing to let breastfeeding help get your baby to sleep.
Josephine was great at feeding. She could latch on from the first hour. My pediatrician called her “the breastfeeding poster child.” So why were my nipples so sore that I cried in pain? I knew it took time to get used to feeding but Josephine wasn’t always latching on well. Genny watched me feed her and suggested a technique of ‘flipping’ the nipple into the mouth after running it down the area between the nose and the upper lip. This worked! Josephine also had the tiniest mouth and seemed to suck in her lips. Genny really helped me to get my baby to latch more comfortably.
I worried about how often to feed my baby and for how long. It seemed as if my little one was on the breast constantly. I had no breaks. I couldn’t imagine that she was hungry. Genny explained growth spurts and “cluster feeding.” I needed to hear it was normal for my baby to breastfeed very frequently and that she may need comforting and that this was okay too.
One of my breasts had a much larger supply than the other. Milk would literally squirt out and my baby would choke. I was so paranoid it might hurt her. Some of the mothers in the group had the same problem and felt my frustration. Again, it’s normal and it helped to know that Josephine would get used to the difference and adjust things for herself. It’s amazing how adaptable babies are. They know what they are doing; it’s us who don’t!
Genny was kind and supportive. She sensed that I was overwhelmed by hormones, emotions, and questions, and she patiently listened and answered all of my questions as well as engaging the other moms to share their many ideas for coping with a fast letdown. Going around the circle each told me what worked for her family, offering their tips for helping dad bond, getting rest, and treating sore nipples. When I left, I felt such a sense of relief—this connection with others who were going through the same things is what helped most of all.
Genny made sure I knew I could reach out to the group if I had any more questions. The questions don’t stop after four weeks, they just change! Whenever I got in touch, Genny was so thorough and helpful. Anticipating my flight across the globe with a six-week-old, Genny suggested feeding Josephine in the ring sling during take-off and landing to help with the air pressure changes. She suggested checking the airports for lactation rooms. Who would have thought this whole world of support was out there? She even came all the way over to my house to demonstrate how to wear my little one in the ring sling.
Once I arrived back in Uzbekistan, we stayed in touch via email. When Josephine started to sleep through the night, I got mastitis. Since we don’t have the greatest medical care here, I turned once again to Genny. She was quick to respond with information about emptying the breast and getting rest, massaging the area, using warm compresses, and most of all letting me know I could get through it and to keep on feeding. A few days later I felt better.
I know whenever I contact my friend and mentor Genny, she will have sound, reasonable, educated information to share. I appreciate her help with breastfeeding and mothering and also her camaraderie. And now she is supporting me in my adventures with starting solids.
How thankful I am to have found LLL and met Genny!