Wonderful Support for Breastfeeding and Motherhood

“In my family breastfeeding was normal. My mother nursed, my sister and sister-in-law nursed. From an early age I expected to nurse my children. I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital while I was expecting my first and thought I was ready to go. I was NOT ready for nursing!

Wonderful Support for Breastfeeding and Motherhood Looking back the one thing I would have done differently is attended La Leche League meetings while pregnant. It would have given me more time to absorb the information than just one night of a class. And I would have sought help sooner if I knew the Leaders and had a better idea of what is normal and when something is wrong. I had a very difficult 6 weeks and it took some time after that to heal and get breastfeeding to a comfortable level. The La Leche League Leader I called was a big part of helping me learn to make breastfeeding work for me. She invited me the local meetings and I started attending when my daughter was 3 months old.

I went on to nurse my daughter until she was ready to wean and I continued to attend the local meetings. I found La Leche League mothers to be a wonderful support; not just for breastfeeding but also for motherhood. I learned from the meeting topics, from the other mothers’ experiences and their questions. I enjoy being able to share my experience with others. It was so much more than just making nursing work. I learned about nutrition and developmental stages and weaning, all of which helped me as I learned to be a parent.

With my second child I attended meetings through my whole pregnancy and had a good support network. Then I was surprised at the difficulty I had nursing my second. It was a mother sharing in the meeting about her child that got me on the right track to identify the nursing issue with my second. The LLL Leader and local IBCLC helped us get the diagnosis and treatment we needed to make breastfeeding work the second time.

Being around other nursing mothers, sharing ideas and resources, supporting each other through the difficulties and celebrating successes is what makes La Leche League great and why I still love attending meetings.”

Alina, La Leche League Montgomery, AL Area

Allie’s Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression “My daughter Sammi was born July 2014 via C-section, but fortunately we were able to be skin-to-skin and nurse within her first hour. My supply was good but I was so concerned over whether I was doing this right because it sure didn’t come “naturally” – I saw an IBCLC in the hospital after delivery and again a week or two after being home and was assured I was doing great because my daughter was gaining weight beautifully. I was doing everything right, but it still felt wrong.

I had a very hard time adjusting and bonding, being a mom for the first time along with dealing with the unexpected way she was born and trying to heal from my physical complications. I had struggled with my mental health since the age of 14 yet my pregnancy was the happiest and healthiest I had been in years. But my post-partum experience was an emotional 360 and I couldn’t even get myself out of bed. I was hospitalized for post-partum depression for 10 days – I sobbed that first night when my husband gave her formula as a close friend brought me to the ER. I missed my girl’s 1 month birthday and just felt so guilty that I wasn’t there for her or my husband. In my eyes, I had completely failed as a mother since I couldn’t even care for my baby or myself.

So then I had to figure out pumping while in the hospital – and when you’re there for psychiatric reasons, they don’t let you have your own shoes, never mind a breast pump. I had never pumped before and now I had to do it under close supervision and then they had to confiscate the equipment right after so I couldn’t harm myself. I was so humiliated and petrified that I kept getting engorged and wanted to give up.

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression Finally, I met with Heather, a part-time staffer on the ward, IBCLC & part of the Manchester La Leche League chapter. She had a long chat with me and my husband who was visiting – she didn’t sugar coat things and flat out told me I needed to advocate for myself and my daughter by making sure I was on a solid schedule because pumping twice a day wasn’t enough and my supply was already dropping. She also encouraged me not to give up, even though it was hard. I finally had some validation that breastfeeding was important and my right as a mother. It was the only way I was still connected to my baby while stuck in that inpatient unit and I was finally able to work things out with the nurses so I could pump without feeling like a prisoner. You’d think there’d be more medical professionals in a hospital with a birth center only a floor away who would support breastfeeding and pumping.

I had to continue pumping once I was home since I needed to be in a day program for 6 weeks and would nurse on demand once I got back. Within another few weeks after my outpatient treatment, we were fully back to breast. We had a few spells of milk blisters and mastitis, but we carried on with no regrets. Last November, I got to sing with a choir in New York City and since my husband and daughter couldn’t make the trip with us, I pumped the whole 5 days I was there to keep my supply going, including backstage at Carnegie Hall the night of the performance!

Allie's Breastfeeding Success and Overcoming Postpartum Depression I never thought I’d make it to 6 months (my original goal) but now my daughter just turned 2 and we are still nursing twice a day. I’ve gotten some flack from my extended family, especially since she’s older now and because I nursed in public without a cover (my daughter made using a cover impossible), but I truly believe this was the greatest therapy for both of us to finally bond as mother and child. I love my daughter more than anything in the world and although at times I want my body back again, I know I will miss our milkie snuggles once she’s done nursing. I’m so grateful to Heather and to support groups like La Leche League and Breastfeeding USA.”

Allie (Sammi’s mommy), Manchester, CT La Leche League

Gemma’s Story: Battling Lupus, Conceiving & Breastfeeding Successfully

Gemma's Story: Battling Lupus, Conceiving & Breastfeeding Successfully“One year after my son was born, 2013, I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis stage 4. I was told that I would never be able to have another baby. I was on 18 pills a day. Through medication, exercise and diet change (low sodium and no processed foods), I went into remission and convinced the doctors to switch my meds and allow us to try for a baby.

One year later we had the green light and 2 months later I was pregnant with Emily.

I was told that I probably wouldn’t be able to breastfeed due to supply issues and the constant fatigue from lupus. Lupus forced me to wean my son cold turkey three days shy of his first year birthday. I would not let this control my life or my daughters.

Gemma's Story: Battling Lupus, Conceiving & Breastfeeding SuccessfullyShe was born healthy on her due date and we have breastfed from day 1 with zero supplementing. She fought me on bottles when I went back to work but in the end she would take 1 bottle of pumped milk a day at daycare. I work as an instructor full time at Springfield College teaching Biology to freshman. I was able to nurse her on my breaks at the daycare.

She is now 15 months on Friday and I can hardly believe that this journey is still going strong. She still nurses 4-5 times throughout the day and what’s amazing is that she is keeping me in remission. The hormones that are associated with breastfeeding keep my lupus quiet. I don’t know when this journey will end but I am sure glad to be apart of it.”

Gemma, Manchester/Bolton, CT, La Leche League

 

Breastfeeding Success Story: Triumph in the End!

Breastfeeding Success Story: Triumph in the End!“I wanted to share my story. My daughter is almost 5 months old. My water broke 4 weeks early, (but) when I went to the hospital I was only 1 cm dilated. Long story short by 30 hours of labor, my doctor said I needed to have an emergency c-section because I started to get a fever.

My daughter Adeline was born weighing 7 pounds 9 ounces which is a great size for a baby being born early. When she was born she had low blood sugar and jaundice. She was in the NICU for a week. They fed her bottle of formula which was far from what I wanted. But everyday until she got out of the hospital every three hours I would go and try breastfeeding her.

Breastfeeding Success Story: Triumph in the End!It took 5 days for my milk to finally come in. She had a good latch but became frustrated because the milk didn’t come fast like the bottle. So I would try feeding her then pump so she could get my milk instead of the formula. She stopped drinking formula after a week. And I kept trying to feed her but she only wanted the bottle. So I exclusively pumped until she was almost 2 months. About then I finally got her to feed off of me I was so excited!!! And from that point we have been exclusively breastfeeding!!

It was so hard at the beginning, but I am so glad I stuck with it!!”

Jenn, Jacksonville, FL La Leche League

Clinging to Breastfeeding

Clinging to Breastfeeding“I did not get the birth I wanted so I clung to being able to breastfeed. We struggled…a lot. So much. He was not latching. It would take him 30-45 min for him to latch sometimes!

And then I had been in excruciating pain for two-and-a-half months before I realized he had a tongue and lip tie. (A previous LC told me he was not tied. So I thought the pain was normal.) Well we finally got it corrected and it was going well until it reattached 🙁

I went to multiple doctors and they all told me they couldn’t do the second revision and that I should just quit breastfeeding. I was definitely not quitting! I had worked so hard already! So we traveled to Chattanooga to get his ties revised. Bam! The doctor did it! It was amazing afterwards and we haven’t looked back!

Almost 11 months strong and no end in sight!”

Kimberly, Portland, TN – La Leche League

La Leche League Leader Thanks Brave Breastfeeders

La Leche League Leader Thanks Brave Breastfeeders

When I first found out I would be having my oldest child I knew I’d breastfeed. My mother and sister had both breastfed their children so it was normal. Even with that pre-made decision I found myself stocking up on bottles ahead of his birth, because it was the culturally expected thing to do.  Who doesn’t need bottles?   I have memories of my mother breastfeeding her youngest and my sister nursing a wiggly baby.  But I never saw any one else breastfeed in the community.  Bottles were the feeding implement of choice, so I stocked up expecting to need them.  I didn’t think breastfeeding would fail, but it felt like bottles were required with having a baby.

Until my son arrived I had no idea how much that affected me.  I found myself pumping my breasts to allow family to bottle feed, which led to oversupply and mastitis.  Within weeks of birth I was getting questions about when I’d be weaning.  He wasn’t even out of his newborn clothes before the questions began. My husband’s family called regularly to ask, and well meaning friends and family would provide “facts” about when the breastfeeding benefits would run out. My own father was horrified that I breastfed in public without a cover.  I found breastfeeding impossible with one. I knew no one else breastfeeding at the time, and I was beginning to feel like a foreigner in my hometown.

It was after my second child was born that I found my support network at La Leche League meetings and the community. I ultimately decided my calling was to help others. For 10 years I’ve worked with many families to help them find support and, hopefully provide a tiny bit of a network for them while they cultivate their own. Awareness campaigns like World Breastfeeding Week are important in so many ways that it is hard to list them all. The one most important to me is visibility.  Because this week is when others, that may not be so visible the rest of the year, come out and bond over a shared interest to create that support network.

I owe my success in breastfeeding to those who came before me and instilled the desire to nurture my children through breastfeeding. Families who are willing to brave the world by breastfeeding their children in stores, cars, libraries, with or without covers all provide what we all need: a culture that views breastfeeding as normal.

For these reasons I want to say to these families:

You helped me feel comfortable enough to meet my goals, because I knew you had been there.

You helped me see that breastfeeding didn’t mean never leaving my home or always being the one hiding in the back room at get togethers.

You helped me, even if we didn’t speak. You helped me by being visible.

 

Cathy Heinz – La Leche League USA Council Member and Leader, IBCLC

Breastfeeding Success Story: Rhianna, St. Louis La Leche League

Breastfeeding Success Story: Rhianna, St. Louis La Leche League“When the years of trying and failing to conceive piled one atop the next, I began to view my  body as a stranger, as unknowable and untrustworthy. A failure. We ultimately sought the care  of a reproductive endocrinologist, a fertility specialist who, after a series of modesty­squelching  tests, determined that in vitro fertilization would give us our best chance at achieving a  pregnancy. It was a meticulous process, an orchestra of expensive medications not covered by  insurance, appointments every other day for blood work and ultrasounds, twice ­daily  self ­administered injections in pinches of belly fat. There were physicians and nurses in our  most intimate physical and emotional spaces, those who surgically retrieved my eggs, those  who married my gametes with my partner’s, those who transferred our two best candidate  embryos into my uterus, and one who called weeks later with the mind ­blowing, almost  unbelievable news that this had all somehow worked. It felt like the most unnatural process  ever, but there we were: finally pregnant. I felt hopeful, but the undercurrent of skepticism  toward my body never ebbed.

One healthy pregnancy later, my gooey, freshly born son was placed on my bare chest as the  purple light of dawn crept in through my hospital room window. We lay chest to chest, our hearts  trading companionable conversation like the cozy neighbors they were for the previous nine  months. This lovely, long-­awaited baby rooted instinctively for my breast with his tiny mouth, and  in that first moment, I felt an unexpected swell of reverence for my body that I’d never felt  before.    We had our hurdles and hiccups in the beginning of our nursing relationship, but we persevered  through the latch issues, damaged nipples, a nursing shield, and wavering uncertainty that my  body could adequately nourish this stunning little being.  I fell in love with my son, with  breastfeeding, and with my body during our quiet nursing moments. With his plump little arms  and legs tucked in close to my body, his body the yin to my body’s yang, it felt like we were the  only two people who existed. With his belly filled with my milk, I was overcome with an  unrelenting awe and renewed respect for what my body can do. What infertility took away from  my sense of self, breastfeeding gave me back.”

Welcome World Breastfeeding Week!

Welcome World Breastfeeding Week!

WIC counselor from Tawas City, MI sharing a precious, breastfeeding moment with her baby.

The annual World Breastfeeding Week started this past Saturday, August 1st! The world celebration of breastfeeding has occurred every year since 1991, when the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) was formed. This week long event encourages women to embrace their motherly attributes and praise their abilities to give their children the essential nutrients they need to grow up healthy and strong!

We’ve all heard about the benefits breastfeeding has for both mom and baby, but did you know breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of our children? Researchers and moms are continuously finding ways breastfeeding is better and better, and how it out wins formula every single time. Breast milk gives our children the best possible nutrients and protection. Moms who breastfeed are shown to have lower risks of cancers, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, etc., and babies who drink breast milk are given immediate and long term protection and have a lower risk of infections, obesity, and cancers. What’s even more amazing about the power of breast milk is it can alter its self to meet a baby’s needs. When a baby breastfeeds their saliva communicates with the mother’s body and their breast milk can give the baby anything they need at that time. If they are sick the milk will produce extra antibodies and antioxidants to help them recover and feel better. Same goes if the mother is sick!

During this week, August 1st to the 7th, organizations such as, La Leche League and WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) are hosting special events for breastfeeding moms and their babies. This year’s theme: Breastfeeding at Work: Let’s Make it Work! will be all about women who want to continue breastfeeding while they pursue their careers. A few spotlighted events are Camden County, NJ, who will be hosting their “Big Latch On” affair where global counts of mothers simultaneously nurse their babies for one minute, and in Caldwell, ID where the Southwest District Health WIC has their “Latch On” event, which this year will be a full day of giving breastfeeding mom’s tips on how to tie both breastfeeding and work together!

 

Find your local chapter near you and checkout all the excitement going on this week and celebrate breastfeeding as it should be: loving, nurturing, and supportive!