On November 25, 2002, I gave birth to an 8lb 6oz baby boy.
I started breastfeeding; well honestly, it was more like attempting to breastfeed, my son immediately. See I spent the previous 6+ months reading everything I could get my hands on, researching the internet, speaking to other mothers that had breastfed and even taking a breastfeeding class.
Then the much-anticipated day arrived and my beautiful son was born. I knew I was ready. I mean, no one could be as prepared as I was and I was a bit older (37 when I got pregnant), therefore, wiser.
So what could go wrong? Before continuing, I think I need to back up and share with you some of the events leading up to this momentous day.
After finding out I was pregnant, I went through a myriad of emotions! From utter fear to ultimate joy and back to fear again. I think you get the picture. After the pregnancy finally sunk in, I made the decision to have my baby naturally. It was very important to me that I not have an epidural or drugs of any kind. I just wanted a natural delivery where my baby wouldn’t be harmed in any way. It is funny how life turns out sometimes. I mean even the best laid plans don’t always work out.
Fast forward to November 25th ; I went 10 days past my due date and still having no significant contractions my doctor decided that I should go on to the hospital to be induced. Obviously, this made me sad, because I am a planner, I had planned on a natural delivery…, and now they were going to give me drugs to induce labor. Aaaaaah! Okay, this is just a small hurdle to overcome, my baby will get here and I will be right on track. Not!
When I arrived at the hospital to be induced, I was examined first, thank God, because we discovered that my son was breech. So inducing could have been a terrible error! Then things happened fast; we went from having a baby naturally to having a c-section. Yep, an epidural, the very thing I had wanted to avoid. When all was said and done, it all worked out great. At 12:45 p.m, I delivered by c-section my son. I was fully awake with my husband by my side to share with me the beautiful experience of our son’s delivery. So the day did not turn out as planned but my son arrived healthy and strong. In addition, all was right with the world again! Now back on topic.
When they handed my son to me, approximately 20 minutes after being born, I immediately wanted to feed him. Besides that is what my research told me I should do. I, of course, had not planned on not being able to feel the entire lower part of my body and feeling a little out of it because they had to give me pain meds, because once the epidural wore off I would be feeling some pain. I just went through surgery so there was going to be some pain involved.
Now let me say I know that there is pain involved for every woman that gives birth, natural or otherwise. I just mean that with a c-section you are cut open, a baby removed and then you are sewn back up. Therefore, there is going to be some pain involved. I have to say that my experience with a c-section was not a bad one at all. I started walking the next day and 4 days after having my son, I was out shopping. I digress again, sorry.
So I tried to breastfeed. I thought it was going okay, I mean I’d never done this before so I wasn’t sure what it was suppose to feel like,. He had his little mouth over my nipple and appeared to be sucking, so I felt good and remember thinking “Wow, this is easy”. Wow, was I ever wrong! My wonderful little baby did not shut his eyes and cried a lot the first 24 hours and with every attempt to nurse him, I became aware that he wasn’t getting any milk.
At the time I had my son, the hospital was swamped with women ready to deliver their little bundles of joy. Since I was doing so well I didn’t have to stay the full 3 days, not to mention the hospital needed the space. I was admitted around 10:30 am on a Monday and released around 10:00 am on Wednesday. So with so many babies being delivered and my shortened stay the lactation consultant never came to see me.
Learn from my experience here and politely demand to see the lactation consultant before leaving the hospital! She should come around within a few hours after delivery, however, don’t leave without seeing her, even if you feel like everything is going okay.
Just before leaving the hospital, my son got a check-up by his pediatrician. The pediatrician proceeded to tell us that our son had lost approximately a pound and wanted us to bring him into his office to be weighed in two days. This is where I started feeling guilty and frustrated! My baby was starving! My son is barely two days old and I’m already a failure as a mother.
I spend the next two days trying and trying to nurse my son. He wasn’t sleeping much and crying a lot. Well of course he was, he was hungry!
When we took him to the doctor on Friday, he had lost even more weight. The pediatrician told us that he wanted us to come back in the following Monday and if he hadn’t started gaining weight we would have to discuss other options.
See, it wasn’t that my son couldn’t latch on; he was sucking, to the point that my nipples were cracked and bleeding. Yes, I know how horrid that sounds. Not to mention painful…believe me it was painful! I cried a lot over those two days, from a mixture of frustration, guilt and pain. The problem was that I was not producing milk.
After coming home from the pediatrician’s office, I decided I needed to get an electric breast pump. I had a manual one and tried using it, to no avail. So my mother went with me and I bought one. As soon as I got home with it, I tried it out and this wonderful, amazing piece of equipment made it possible for me to nurse my son!
When we took him for his weigh in, he had gained weight. By the way, that very night after being able to nurse him, he started sleeping through the night and rarely ever cried. He quickly gained weight and stayed in the 80th percentile his entire first year of his life.
The reason I wanted to share my story with you, is to encourage you to give your baby the best start in life. I feel so adamant that breastfeeding is the best choice you can make for your baby that I wanted to show you that even with setbacks and difficulties, you can do it. If I could do it, anybody can do it!
But please don't beat yourself up if you can't… as long as you love your baby, they will thrive.
Share with me your breastfeeding stories or if you are pregnant and have questions please feel free to comment. Hope to hear from you!