Breastfeeding Support Makes a Big Difference

by admin on April 21, 2015

Support Makes a Big Difference in the Decision to Breastfeed

Guest Posting by: Rashida McKenzie

My pregnancy did not go the way that I “planned” it. At 18 weeks, I was put on bed rest and spent the next 22 weeks there before my daughter was born healthy. However, she was whisked away right after her delivery because they believed she had a heart issue (which luckily turned out to be a false alarm) so she spent a few days in the NICU while the doctors deliberated. Even with all of those complications, I was still determined to breastfeed, however a brief run in with a pushy NICU nurse) almost derailed those plans too.

While there are quite a few reasons why a woman whose experienced pregnancy complications would choose not to breastfeed her baby, a study by the National Center of Biotechnology information revealed that the one of the largest factors that influences whether she does or not is supportive hospital practices.

When my baby was wheeled off to the NICU shortly after her birth, we were told she could not eat for at least 24-48 hours and that she would be given “sugar water” as a substitute while the Dr.’s waited to determine whether or not everything was okay. After about 36 hours she was given the okay to eat and as I was wheeled down to the NICU to attempt to breastfeed my baby for the first time when I came across the NICU nurse giving her the finishing drops of a bottle. The same nurse who I had asked the day before to let me know when it was time for her to eat that I could be wheeled down. She agreed to do so.

I was very upset and explained to her how I felt like my wishes had been disregarded and how much I would appreciate that not happening again before communicating with me. So she called me for the next feeding.

The baby had a hard time latching on and it just didn’t work. At this point she had already been approved for discharge so while I was attempting to try again that same nurse made it a point to tell me that I should just give her a bottle because if she didn’t eat her glucose levels could fall below a certain level and then she wouldn’t be able to go home. I know that she was just doing her job, but what I needed in that moment was compassion, not a lecture.

So we gave her formula.

Even though I felt pressured into giving it to her, I asked for a lactation consultant to come for the next feeding so that we could try again. The nurse agreed, but not before sharing with me that she thought giving her a bottle was “no big deal’ and that I should just give her a bottle now and try breastfeeding once we got home  because that’s what she did when her baby was in the NICU and everything worked out just fine.

Annoyed, I waited for the lactation consultant and when she came I asked the nurse to leave so that we could have some privacy.

After trying for a while without success, the lactation consultant finally suggested that when we got home I just stop giving her the bottle, because “If she wanted to eat, she would latch on.” Well we went home and that lasted all of 10 seconds because I refused to starve my child as she cried uncontrollably.

I cried to and gave her formula.

I was having a hard time with my milk coming in and was trying to pump as often as I could, but I was in so much pain that I regretted not staying in the hospital another day or two.

When we went for the five day check-up, her pediatrician asked how she was being fed. When I told her formula she asked whether I tried breastfeeding and whether or not I wanted to. Did I….?!?!

I broke down….again.

I shared with her what my experience had been up until that point and she recommended I meet with their in-house lactation consultant.   We did. We tried again. Still, no luck! She told me to continue to practice and to come back in 3 days.

So we gave her formula…

And a little bit of breast milk!

By about day 6 I was getting enough milk where I could go back and forth between the two.

Feeling a little defeated, but still determined I called the hospital and was told that I was welcome come back and meet with another one of the consultants, but the hospital was already about 30 minutes away with no traffic. Physically, I just wasn’t up for the trip.

So after three days, I drug myself back into the pediatrician’s office for another try. We had a little bit more luck, but she wasn’t getting enough milk to quite call it a success. Then the lactation consultant showed me some tricks and gave me some tips on using my pump to help more of my milk come in. She massaged those babies until my milk runneth over. My husband was there routing me on and it really felt like a breakthrough.

So we gave her breast milk!!!

We had fully transitioned to her being exclusively breastfed. Still part of me, felt like maybe if I gave it one more shot. So we went back to lactation lady one last time. She was still having a hard time latching.

The nurse looked at me and hugged me around the shoulders and said how impressed she was with my determination, but it wasn’t working (we had tried several things). The thing she said next was so simple, yet profound.

“Sweetie, the most important thing is that she is getting her mommy’s milk.”

I’m not going to lie, I felt a little robbed of that “bonding” experience that other moms talk about, but regardless I felt good that I didn’t give up. So, I decided to exclusively pump.

So we gave her (exclusively) breast milk!

If I had let the NICU Nurse have the last say, I would have just given her the formula, but because I had already made up my mind that I wanted to give my baby breastmilk I actively sought the support I needed and that was one of the key factors for me following through.

Trust me, I know that after experiencing pregnancy complications (or even having an uncomplicated pregnancy) there may be several reasons that you opt for giving your baby formula, and I don’t blame you one bit. I wrote this not to shame anyone for deciding to go that route, but to let other moms know if breastfeeding is something that you really want to do find a hospital with supportive practices before birth, a great lactation consultant who will be patient after birth, ask what your options are, get a good pump and go for it!

 

Rashida

Rashida McKenzie is a new mom and the Founder of Queen Bee Concierge. Queen Bee Concierge provides personal assistance for busy moms whether they are easing into motherhood or managing their family’s busy lifestyle. For more information, visit www.queenbeeconcierge.com

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