Thursday, April 8, 2010

Breastfeeding: my story

Maybe no one else cares, but I feel the need to share my story in light of all the publicity breastfeeding (and the debate surrounding it) has gotten the last few days.

I had to be induced at 37 weeks 1 day due to dangerously high blood pressure. (I saw it at 206/198 but my OB wouldn't tell me what it was at it's peak.) I wasn't given encouraged to bf before my daughter she was taken away, nor was I warned they were going to take her away for an extended time and I needed to take the opportunity. It was 5-6 hours after birth before they brought her to me initiate bf (while my family went to dinner) after they had already given her sugar water. I couldn't her to latch on and asked for an LC. The hospital had one peds nurse who was also an IBCLC and several "trained" nurses. Almost 2 hours later a nurse came in, positioned my baby, and walked out without saying a word. I still had no idea what she had done differently. I thought I had the hang of it and did alright the first 2 days. The second night a nurse came in and took my daughter. My husband was asleep so the nurse didn't say anything, but they did weight checks late at night so I didn't think much of it. But they didn't bring her back until after 8am. I never knew why. I stayed up all night worrying about where my baby was and when they would bring her back and whether they were giving her formula. But I was too scared to speak up for myself and too uninformed to know how much harm that could do to our breastfeeding relationship.
We were both released on Saturday despite Emma's "minor" jaundice. She had to be re-admitted Sunday. After a couple of hours she had a very small amount of blood in her diaper and the on call ped told the nurse to do xrays which showed no problems and still insisted I quit nursing (they did provide me with a pump but no help) and told me not to pick her up (to maximize time under the billirubin lights) and suggested a pacifier to soothe her. I felt helpless and heartbroken so I agreed.
She gained weight slowly- in little bursts averaging .5 oz/day as opposed to the "normal" 1 oz/day. My ped threatened to diagnose my daughter with failure to thrive which is automatically investigated as a possible case of child abuse/neglect if she didn't gain an "acceptable" amount of weight in THREE DAYS and then gave her a sample bottle in the office and sent me home with more. I had been "asked" to supplement her twice before but was literally afraid someone would take my baby away. If I had known then what I know now, I would have gotten a second opinion from another office (Well third really- I saw 2 peds in the same office but they stuck together like glue.), but I didn't.
Not long after that, I gave up. Temporarily. There is no chapter of LLL here, and we were going through some very hard times financially so I couldn't call on LC (and didn't have much faith in them after the hospital). A wonderful friend encouraged me not to give up (thanks Melissa!) so I spent my days reading everything I could on breastfeeding. In the meantime, our health insurance situation changed and Emma was now on Medicaid. And we had to change doctors. Shucks. It took research, time, tears, effort, and lots of prayer but I got her off of formula. (And boy did the WIC office look at me like I was crazy when I didn't want formula anymore but wanted to go to the exclusive breastfeeding package!) I worked hard to breastfeed my daughter, and I can empathize with women who have struggled and given up- I was there too- but I am now throwing myself into lactivism wholeheartedly. Not everyone was in a situation like mine where they have the time to find and try for themselves what someone should be there to show them.
If you agree, support a breastfeeding mom. Tell her you think she's doing a great job. Tell her you know it's hard. Ask her if she needs anything.Support a mom who tried. Tell her she did her best. Give her a hug. Ask her if she needs anything. Accept that the vast majority of parents do what's best for their kids to the best of their knowledge and ability and feel free to share information but don't judge. The arguing, fighting, back-biting,name calling, etc. only hurt breastfeeding and women in general.


  1. Oh, Holly! I'm so glad everything worked out for you. I know it was so hard for you but you did your best, informed yourself and it all worked out for both you AND Emma. I wish I could have helped more to make your experence eaiser. Being a new mamma myself all I knew was that I didn't want you to give up. You are a great example to all breastfeeding parents! Keep telling your story and you will help so many others who may be at that giving up stage.
    When I took Ethan in for his 9month check up the nurse kept asking me "So how many bottles does he take a day?" None. "So he never has a bottle?" NO! And if he did it has MY BM in it! It's sad that BF is not the norm.

  2. It can be hard, and some people just dont realize that. It SHOULD come naturally, but often doesnt.

    I too struggled with two of my littles. Going strong with this one.

    Good work, in the face of much opposition.

  3. So happy for you! I came here via Melissa and find your story very inspiring. I had struggles breastfeeding my first because of a prior surgery that damaged my milk ducts and then having to have my baby via emergency c-section. But I see now how lucky I was to deliver at a hospital where breastfeeding is HUGELY supported and considered the first and best option for babies. Too bad all places aren't like that. Good for you arming yourself with knowledge and congrats again on succeeding!!!

  4. I came here via Melissa too. Great job on over coming all those obstacles thrown at you! It's hard to believe that with all the medical groups touting breastfeeding that so many many hospitals, pediatricians and even WIC offices are not more supportive. I have heard similar tales from friends and have experienced it myself with my son's original pediatrician. It is so hard to trust ones own instincts when respected professionals are indifferent or non supportive. It takes a strong momma to keep going!! Congrats!

  5. Thanks for sharing your story! You'd make a fantastic LLL leader. Let me know if you need any more information about that process. It sounds like your area really needs one! Emma's very lucky to have you!

  6. Great story. I also came from Melissa's blog. Even though I had a lot of support and information about breastfeeding, it didn't work out for us. I pumped breastmilk for my baby's first year, and I'm hopeful that with my next child breastfeeding will WORK! It helps a lot to hear other people's stories. Thanks for sharing yours.