One of the things that you may be thinking about during your pregnancy is whether you will breastfeed your baby once he or she arrives. It is important to think about this ahead of time, so that you can educate yourself about the types of resources and support that are available to nursing mothers in the event that you run into a difficult start with breastfeeding. One important thing to remember is that while breastfeeding your baby is completely natural, it is something that requires both mother and baby to do a bit of learning. It is also possible for a whole host of other things to come up within the first few days and weeks after your baby is born. When each of my boys was born, I had a little bit of difficulty at the beginning with getting breastfeeding established. I offer these brief stories of what happened in each situation as examples of the kinds of things which can happen at the start of the breastfeeding relationship and illustrations of the kinds of situations that mothers can overcome if they want to breastfeed their children.
When Dylan was born, I was on magnesium sulfate during labor and delivery because I had preeclampsia. As a result, Dylan was somewhat groggy after he was born and it was difficult to get him to nurse because he was so tired for the first couple of days of his life. I tried to nurse him every few hours, as instructed by hospital staff. He kept just enough weight on to enable us to leave the hospital, and we were to return a few days later for a weight check because they wanted to make sure that he did not lose any more weight.
Another complicating factor was that my milk was slow to come in. It did not come in until the fifth or sixth day after Dylan was born. The funny thing is, when the milk did come, it came in right in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. I felt a tingling sensation in my chest as I sat down to eat my dinner and promptly excused myself from the table so that I might give Dylan his Thanksgiving feast before digging in to my own plate. The next day, I got a sudden introduction to marathon nursing when Dylan decided that he wanted to feed for nearly ten hours straight. I was concerned, to say the least, and as he nursed and nursed and nursed I frantically searched through my books with my free hand for an explanation of what was happening. The day after that, we had a successful weight check.
For some reason, Dylan was a very sleepy baby and he would fall asleep shortly after beginning a feed. I often had to take off his pajamas and make him feel a little bit chilly in order to keep him awake long enough to feed. We also had to use a nipple shield and do some feedings by syringe during the first few weeks. We made it through, though, and after a few weeks breastfeeding was easy for both of us. Dylan is two and a half now, and is almost fully weaned. In my next post, I will discuss my breastfeeding experience with Blake, who is now five months old.
Photo by taliesin on morguefile.com.