I am so very grateful to be able to share this guest post from a wonderful and inspiring woman, Nyssa Retter, who took my classes in her third pregnancy and has inspired me ever since. Please check out her blog which chronicles her journey with IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue).
Why is Breastfeeding Like a Hot Wing Eating Contest?
I can’t remember where I read/heard/saw this, but a study was done using chicken wings. One group was told to eat as many chicken wings as they possibly could, and were left alone, the second group was told to eat as many wings as they possibly could, and they had an audience cheering them on. The group with the cheering section ate TWICE as many wings as the group without a cheering section.
Now, apply that to breastfeeding. Or more specifically, apply it to breastfeeding when mom or baby is experiencing problems. How long would you keep going without anyone cheering you on?
Here’s my story:
When I found myself unexpectedly expecting at the age of 19, breastfeeding wasn’t even a question. I KNEW I would breastfeed, I’ve always known I would breastfeed. I assumed breastfeeding would come naturally; I was a mammal, after all. And thinking things would come naturally, I did nothing to prepare.
My son was born at 41 weeks, and latched on like a pro right from the get-go. But then, he became jaundiced, and his bilirubin numbers just kept rising despite constant nursing. I was discharged from the hospital, but my baby had to stay behind.
I had a single manual pump, and I pumped my little heart out, but I got more blood (gag!) than milk. I was only able to visit my son once a day because I was at the mercy of others to bring me to the hospital, and once I was there, I was only able to hold him and nurse him for half an hour before he had to go back under the lights.
An eternity (or a week) later, his bilirubin levels were low enough for him to come home! Armed with a starter-SNS, my pump, and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, I attempted to rebuild my milk supply. We spent hours skin-to-skin nursing, but my supply wasn’t getting any better. To make matters worse, I was living with my boyfriend’s parents, people I hardly knew, and my boyfriend’s mother didn’t believe breastfeeding was enough and would slip my month old son 8 oz. bottles of formula while I was in the shower! I had no one in my corner. Discouraged by my low milk supply, I gave up breastfeeding entirely by the time my son was 2 months old, and sank into a deep depression.
Fast forward 4 years later. My husband and I were expecting our first baby together, and I was determined to get breastfeeding right this time. I read all the books. I bought a double electric breast pump. I made sure I met with a lactation consultant before I left the hospital. When I noticed my daughter was becoming jaundiced, I almost had a panic attack! But her jaundice wasn’t nearly as severe, and she was able to come home with me.
But, once again, problems arose. I found “brick dust” uric acid crystals in her diaper, and she wasn’t pooping. Worried about her bilirubin levels, I started supplementing right away. I couldn’t get in to see the Lactation Consultant because she was on vacation. Nursing was excruciating, but I managed to power through it for 8 weeks, when the pain miraculously stopped. I was still experiencing low milk supply, and haunted the hospital LC. She couldn’t give me any answers. I asked for an SNS, and she told me not to bother. I choked down hand-fulls of herbs. My husband was supportive in his way, allowing me to buy whatever concoction I thought might help my milk supply, but I could have used more encouraging words. I had no breastfeeding friends. I was all alone in my struggles. I weaned by 8 months.
Ten months later, and I’m pregnant again. Once again determined to make breastfeeding work. I was choking down handfuls of herbs already, hoping to grow some more breast tissue (because I suspected I had IGT and wasn’t taking any chances.) Found a midwife, because I knew if I planned a hospital birth, I would give in to the epidural, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with breastfeeding. I worried the entire pregnancy about milk supply, praying it would just WORK this time. Bought a better pump. Had a wonderful natural birth, latched my new daughter on right away. We still had issues with low milk supply, but things were so much different. I was, and still am, surrounded by people who care and keep me motivated! I have breastfeeding friends to talk to, and friends who have donated milk to us. I have my own cheering squad at Maternally Yours. I have my online support group. I have support, and lots of it. My baby turned 1 a few weeks ago, and we’re still going strong!
If you are breastfeeding, I urge you to seek out support whether you have problems or not, but ESPECIALLY if you’re having problems. Find a La Leche League group, try your local hospital or birth center (many have group meetings for new moms), or even find a group online! There are many facebook groups devoted to specific problems such as low milk supply or tongue-tie or oversupply. Here’s my low supply group on Facebook: IGTMamas.
Bottom line is: Find someone to stand in your corner. It will make all the difference.
Find Nyssa online here:
Did YOU have good support when you were breastfeeding?
I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!
You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.
(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)