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Success Second Time Around

Sari's story:

I have two stepsons (I am the custodial mommy), Robert and Mikey, who were not yet 3 1/2 and 2 1/2 when I had DD Nicolette. Nicolette was born after a long three-day labor, and was finally delivered using ventouse suction. I was absolutely exhausted and had several stitches, one of which was too tight and excruciatingly painful. It was a week before I could get out that horrible stitch. I also had a really hard time getting Nicolette properly latched on, which I also found incredibly painful. On top of that, she was a really hungry baby and wanted to feed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It just didn't seem like I had enough milk. I had bad baby blues that first week, and I felt extreme guilt that I was neglecting my boys by having the baby at the breast constantly. Regrettably, I only persevered six days before switching Nicolette to formula. We were both a lot happier after we made the switch, but in retrospect, I wish I had tried for a bit longer. DH always did the night formula feeds, so it wasn't very difficult for me. Anyway, three weeks later, I got a nasty bout of mastitis. I thought for sure my breastfeeding days were over. I thought for sure (even though DH and I had planned to have two of our own), that I was through having babies.

A little more than two years later, I got broody again. DH and I had made the most wonderful little girl in the world the first time around, and I wanted to do it again. Throughout the pregnancy, I oscillated - to breastfeed or not to breastfeed. Part of me really wanted to give it another try, another part of me was very afraid of another failure.

Then my water broke at 35 weeks. A couple of days later, my beautiful baby girl Genevieve was born and then went straight to the special care baby unit - standard operating procedure for premature babies. I decided right away to start breastfeeding; Genevieve was already getting off to a rough start and needed the best possible milk. She also developed jaundice due to ABO incompatibility - and went through intensive phototherapy for a week. Unfortunately, at the very beginning she needed a lot more fluid than my colostrum-producing breasts could provide, as she was on dehydrating antibiotics and under so many lights. So, for two days she was given formula via NGT (nasal tube) and also fluids intravenously. In the meantime, I used the hospital electric breastpump to produce as much as possible.

And boy did my milk come in! I was expressing about every 3-4 hours, and kept up such a good supply that after two days, she was not given any more formula. At least twice a day, but usually more at my insistence, we would take her out of the incubator and out from under the lights to try her at the breast. Maybe once every other day she would latch on well, although most of the time, she was just too sleepy and seemed uninterested. It was pretty depressing, but the nurses assured me that this tiredness was very typical 36 week behaviour and not to worry - she would get there. This gave me hope anyway. All of the nurses on the special care baby unit were very supportive of breastfeeding, and the hospital had a 'breast is best' leaning. I was taught to feed Genevieve my breastmilk through the NGT. Finally at 37 weeks, her jaundice was under control, and suddenly she seemed a bit more awake and interested in the breast and started to feed.

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Well, from all that expressing, I developed a cracked nipple in my left breast, which didn't go away for about two months. So, yes, it was a bit painful the first couple of months, but since then it has been a joy. I find it so much easier that she has milk, and comfort, right on tap all the time. I have no qualms breastfeeding in public, and my family and DH's family, while not overly enthusiastic, just let me get on with it, and never say anything negative. It has also saved us a lot of money in formula. It's been lots easier for DH - he doesn't need to get up and prepare a bottle in the middle of the night. I just pull Genevieve into bed with us (she sleeps at the foot of the bed), and we usually fall asleep together, lying side by side, with her at my breast. I just get such incredible bursts of love for her when we feed this way.

All in all, I'd say I have become a big breastfeeding advocate. Genevieve is my last baby, and I cherish all the time we have together, and especially the breastfeeding bond we have.

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