When I became pregnant with my second son, Blake, I knew that I planned to breastfeed him after he was born. After my experience with breastfeeding Dylan, I knew that there could be some bumps in the road as we began our breastfeeding relationship. Shortly before Blake was born, I developed preeclampsia. I knew that I would have to be on the same medications during labor and delivery that I had been on when Dylan was born. What I did not expect was that I would end up with a cesarean birth.
When I was able to hold Blake, he was able to latch right on and nurse. Unfortunately, between the medications in my system and the cesarean birth, my milk was slow to come in again. When Blake was a couple of days old, the pediatrician at the hospital informed me that he had lost too much weight and I was going to have to supplement his feedings at the breast with formula. I was devastated. I wanted so badly to have exclusively nursed both of my children, and I felt like my body was failing me. I pumped and pumped, but the milk did not come in. I even asked the lactation consultant whether I could supplement with donated human milk instead of formula. Unfortunately, human milk was not available to babies in the regular maternity ward; only babies in the NICU could receive donor milk.
I pleaded with the nurses to let us go home before beginning formula supplemented feedings. I explained that I had a toddler at home who had not yet weaned and was missing his mama and her milk. I also had a feeling that once the aforementioned toddler nursed, the milk would flow in abundance. The hospital staff and even the lactation consultant told me that that would not help and that I had to stay until Blake gained some weight. I reluctantly started supplementing, using a syringe and tube at the breast. Fortunately, Blake gained weight quickly and I was able to leave the next day.
In order to test my theory about how soon my milk would come in after Dylan nursed, I let Dylan nurse when he came to pick me up at the hospital. The poor boy had really been missing nursing, and he was very glad to be able to nurse again. Sure enough, by the time we had made the hour long trip home from the hospital my milk had come in. Blake had no trouble with the increase in milk supply and by the next day I was able to abandon the supplemental formula feedings. Right now, he is five months old and still exclusively nursing. He’s a happy, chubby little guy who nurses like a champ.
The moral of the two stories that I have shared with you is that if you want to nurse your baby, there is almost always a way to make that happen. Educate yourself about breastfeeding while you are pregnant, and you will be prepared for much of what you might encounter in those early days of your baby’s life. If things come up that threaten to interfere with breastfeeding, reach out for help. You can usually find a way to keep breastfeeding if it is important to you.