Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I support your right to breastfeed even if could not

I am a mother whose plans for parenting a certain way were derailed by my daughter. I gave birth to Amethyst (Amy) naturally in a hospital with my hubby and our awesome doula. Having a natural birth and breastfeeding were important to me to give my daughter the very best start. Our hospital was fantastic, they just assumed you were breastfeeding and did not give babies formula unless otherwise instructed. We were required to have a consult  with the on-staff Lactation Consultant (LC) before being discharged.

Amy latched right away and seemed to be a pro. Over the course of our stay in the hospital it got more difficult to get my tiny babe to clamp on. Several times the LC or nurse had to come in position Amy or hold her onto me. They assured me it would get easier and sent us on our way. Cut to a week later and many crying fits from the both of us. She wasn't eating. She had such a tiny mouth and my very plus-sized body and it's large nipples (sorry for the TMI) were not helping. She just couldn't get enough areola in her mouth. We tried everything. Many calls to La Leche League (LLL) went unanswered. (I'm not downing LLL, just the ladies in the Philadelphia area that never bothered to get back to me.) My doula who was now doubling as my LC and I struggled to get her latched and then keep her that way.

Amy was loosing too much weight and not wetting enough diapers, so we started on formula. She had to eat. At this point I was pumping and still trying to breastfeed her before giving her bottles. Eventually she just flat out refused to come anywhere near my nipples. I didn't want to make her mother's breast a place of hostility, we were both miserable and defeated, so at some point I stopped giving her the breast and started pumping more. But without a baby to stimulate the hormones I barely got anything. Placenta pills, Mother's Milk Tea, fenugreek, none of it helped much. My supply dwindled and then faded away.

Despite everything, my daughter was being sustained on formula, and thanks to several very generous milky mamas via Human Milk 4 Human Babies / Eats on Feets, donated milk.

Now at 13-months old, my Amyface is off of her formula and drinking whole cow's milk and thriving. I always planned to breastfeed and it broke my heart that I failed so miserably. Many a night my hubby had to figuratively talk me off the ledge. Of course it wasn't until much after all of this that I learned that PCOS, of which I am afflicted, has adverse effects on milk production. Oh, that I would have known that before. I still plan to breastfeed my next child when they come. I have resolve.

I wish I had the opportunity to breastfeed my child exclusively and have her self-ween. That was not in the cards for us. Regardless, I support the right of all women to breastfeed their children in whatever setting they are in whatever way the deem best. Please sign the pledge to Support With Integrity a woman's right to feed her child without judgement.

Support with Integrity

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