Hello, friends! Before my story begins, I want to clarify that this story is long enough I felt it should be broken up into 3 parts (aka episodes!) Now, without further ado, let the story begin!
For as long as I can remember, my mother was an avid believer in breastfeeding, especially when it came to her own four babies. During the early days of her motherhood, it was the age of formula and many people were judgmental because of her choice to breastfeed rather than use formula. She spent several years as a single mother, which also meant she was working to provide for her little ones. So, while pursuing her career as a beautician she would extract her milk (by hand) during her breaks. Some days she even brought my older brother to work with her to play on the floor in a corner out of the way.
Those were different times, for sure!
Today it is a very different world than it was some 30 odd years ago. Today, while we may not have opportunity to carry out infants to work with us, you might have noticed that breastfeeding is again becoming popular, and for a good many reasons. There are just so many benefits to breastfeeding verses formula feeding, and I grew up with a solid belief in those benefits and desire to be “that” mom!
So, after finding that I was pregnant with our first child I excitedly began making preparations to live out my desire to be a full blown, hard core, no excuses breastfeeding mom!
I read article after article and forum after forum of various breastfeeding related experiences. I took a breastfeeding class, talked to friends, and my own mother about their own breastfeeding journeys making mental notes all along the way. So, after I finally went into labor and later sat in the hospital waiting for the nurses to bring me my baby, I felt pretty confident, excited, and ready to start breastfeeding our newborn. But, who knew that after all my preparations, and even acquired knowledge over the years (starting as early as childhood), I was still unprepared for what was about to come!
When the nurses finally brought our baby to me and placed her in my arms, it was almost 3 hours after her birth! (Verging on the end of the recommended time for first feeding!) Needless to say, she was very hungry, but (of course) didn’t understand what was going on or why her tummy was sending a new and startling message to her brain.
I quickly did skin to skin with her, which was in itself difficult since she was crying, flailing, and not wanting to stay close to my body for warmth, etc. Sound familiar to all you moms so far? Not the “perfect” start to a first time feeding…but then again, how many of us actually get that perfect experience as a first time mom?
It was literally minutes into my attempt to get a latch that the nurses decided I needed to use a nipple shield if I wanted to continue. One of the girls brought one in and popped it on me… That was so weird. It still took a little while to get a latch, but we finally managed to get it done.
Throughout my hospital stay the nurses and the lactation consultants all seemed to lean more towards encouraging me to use a nipple shield and trying to convince me that I would continue to be unsuccessful if I tried to nurse without it. It was only after months of research and talking with other mothers that I learned some tricks that could have been a deal changer for me early on. However, by the time I learned and attempted to implement any of them our baby was so use to the shield that she wouldn’t accept me without the shield more than a random time here and there (maybe 4 times total). Can you imagine my disappointment?
Why did the nurses and lactation consultants believe it was necessary for me to use the shield instead of nursing without? I’m not really sure why it breastfeeding seemed completely hopeless for me specifically without it. I do know now that there are several reasons why the shield is recommended:
1. Flat, inverted or large nipples. This can prevent baby from finding you at all.
2. Babies with an unusually small mouth
3. Babies with other compressing issues (thanks to lip tie, tongue tie, etc.)
4. Some nurses recommend it for hungry newborns at the first feeding if they haven’t had time to root around and figure it out before getting insanely hungry
There are probably more reasons that I’ve forgotten, but we had at least two of the issues listed above working against us. Even so, looking back, I don’t think that I should have been lead to believe that I would be fully dependent on the shield to master breastfeeding.
I completely believe that, had I had the proper information from the beginning, I could have weaned her successfully off of the shield and began nursing in the way God designed.
To Be Continued……………….
If you are wanting to hear the rest of the story, be sure to either follow me to receive notice of be posts, or check in any time between now and next week. Though I plan for a Sunday or Monday post, it could still happen sooner!
Resources Used while writing this article series: