Inauspicious breastfeeding beginnings

If you are searching for the Bloggy Giveaway post, here is the link to my digital camera giveaway.

And now, let’s get back to January’s Carnival of Breastfeeding, brought to you by the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog. This month’s theme is “beginnings and endings.” Since I don’t know much yet about endings with regard to breastfeeding, I thought I’d share the story of my breastfeeding beginning – one I’ve yet to tell here – instead. Following my story I have links to other bloggers participating in this month’s carnival. Hope you will pay them a visit too. 🙂

After a much harder than expected labor and birth, my first child, Ava, entered into the world at 12:06 a.m. June 22, 2004. She was perfect in every way and latched onto my breast without any hesitation the first time it was offered to her. Despite her instinctual desire to nurse, much like her birth, our first few days of breastfeeding didn’t go exactly as planned either.

Nursing Ava in the hospital June 2004Even though I had magnesium sulfate coursing through my veins to prevent seizures (due to the high blood pressure I developed with HELLP syndrome) for the next day, which in turn meant my mental state was not up to par, I was determined to breastfeed Ava and put her to the breast often. And that’s where she would stay usually for 30 to 45 minutes on each breast – contentedly nursing. Those long sessions at the breast should have been my first clue that she was going to be a nurser for the long haul, but that’s another story. 😉

Because of my pregnancy complications I spent the first five days of Ava’s life in the hospital, where her weight was carefully monitored by her then (family practitioner) doctor. When she lost more than 10% of her birth weight (which had been 8 lbs. 4 oz.), the doctor recommended we start supplementing with f*rmula. I’d always assumed that if the hospital or doctor tried to push f*rmula on us, we would refuse, just because we were planning on exclusively breastfeeding. However, in my weakened state I acquiesced, assumed doctor knew best and went with it. I was, however, adamant that I would not be the one bottle feeding her since I didn’t want her to experience any confusion regarding where the mama milk was coming from. So Jody (daddy) or a nurse (when Jody was had run home to let out the dogs) were the one who fed her the bottles, and I asked that it was only a couple of ounces at a time. I think there were two days where Ava received f*rmula after each nursing session. She did fine with it and thankfully, never had any problem going back to the breast or switching between breast and bottle.

Once my milk came in (and boy, did it ever come in!) and we headed home from the hospital on day five, Jody and I decided we were done with the f*rmula. We both felt like I was fully capable of exclusively breastfeeding her at that point. We took some bottles home from the hospital, but they never were opened. I stuck to my guns and breastfed her exclusively (until she was six months old and if you’re a regular here, you know that she’s still nursing 1x/day at age 3 1/2) and never looked back.

Ava had no trouble packing on the ounces and pounds on mama’s milk alone (often surprising the doctors) and by two months old was in the 100th percentile for weight.

When I think back to those first few days, I wonder if the f*rmula was really necessary or if the doctor was being a little overly cautious. (This is the same doctor who speculated that I might need a blood transfusion to encourage my milk to come in after I lost a fair amount of blood during birth. My OB never recommended a transfusion and my milk came in just fine on its own.) It’s hard to say. However, one thing is for sure. I am glad that once we got home I trusted my body and knew that I could provide for her. I feel fortunate that I had a great support network including my husband and friends and that I was knowledgeable enough about breastfeeding to know that supplementing was no longer necessary.

What started out a little rocky turned into a beautiful nursing relationship.

**Spelled that way to prevent ubiquitous f*rmula ads from showing up on my blog.


Other Breastfeeding Carnival participants:

12 thoughts on “Inauspicious breastfeeding beginnings”

  1. That is a great story of determination. I’m so glad you were willing to keep on nursing exclusively! I think the really important thing is one that doesn’t get emphasized enough; breastfeeding success (in the absence of developmental or medical problems) is 99% a confidence game. If a mom believes she can feed her baby, she will. Believing there’s a supply issue seems to lead right down the road to loss of supply!

    Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  2. Of all the kids who thrived on BM…Ava about takes the prize! I’m sorry you were guilted/feared into supplementing, but good for you for going to 100% BM and never looking back!

  3. Amy –
    This sounds like EXACTLY my first birth! I had preeclampsia, ended up in the hospital due to the risk (still with my midwife, thankfully!), DD was perceived as “sick” and needing formula, severe jaundice, etc. etc. etc. given the “solution” only to come home and breastfeed successfully for almost 3 years. So hooray for our perseverance and all the knowledge we gained with our first to do the best with our second 🙂

  4. Well done Amy! It is so difficult in the hospital environment when you’ve just given birth to know what to do. I also allowed them to supplement littlepixie the first night because she was “too hungry”. Was she really? Who knows! Took me a while to make my peace with that, but we live and learn. We’re 15 months nursing and NAK as I type in fact!

  5. This seems to be a common theme, but a similar situation with a pushy nurse happened to me. As a first-time mama who had unexpectedly ended up in the hospital, I was confused and discouraged that she thought my baby “needed” supplementation, and her insistence started a couple looong weeks (or was it only one? It felt like forever!) after we went home before we could ditch the pump and bottles and tubes and just breastfeed. I often thought that if I hadn’t been so determined that I would have given up before I got to the easy stage, and that that must be what happens with mothers who aren’t completely committed to breastfeeding but think they’ll just give it a try. I wish hospitals were more matter-of-factly supportive, and patient about waiting for the milk to come in!

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