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Breastfeeding Success!! ~ Ginny's Story
by Ginny Cherry

It was a snowy Sunday in Texas when my water broke five weeks before my due date. Hubby and I were a bit surprised but headed for the hospital to wait for the arrival of our first child. After several hours of having induced labor, the decision was made to deliver the baby by caesarean section. The delivery went off without a hitch and nineteen minutes later, my beautiful daughter was born. She weighed 5 lbs. 13 ounces but the pediatrician wanted to get her weight up quickly so a diet of formula every two hours was prescribed. I did not get to try to breastfeed my baby during our two day hospital stay.

My husband and I had taken breastfeeding classes so we thought we knew what we were doing. Once we were home, I attempted to breastfeed the baby. She didn't stay awake much, and I had trouble getting her to latch on. We really wanted to breastfeed so on Friday, the pediatrician recommending going without any formula and strictly breastfeeding. Needless to say, by Monday the baby had lost almost a pound. The only milk she got was what she managed to lick off of me.

Later that day we met with a lactation consultant. She came to our home and after talking with us and watching the baby, she diagnosed the problem. Our daughter didn't know how to suck properly. Since she was born early, she didn't have enough time to learn the technique in the womb. Over the next few weeks, we proceeded to teach the baby how to suck by finger feeding her. I expressed my milk, and my husband would feed her. We kept bottles and pacifiers out of sight. Before each feeding, I would attempt to latch her on. After fifteen minutes of trying, Dad took over. Some days we saw progress, other days we could barely keep her awake to feed her at all.

After four weeks, I got a nipple shield which gave the baby a very large target. I used this for a week. Sometimes it worked great, other times I got her to latch without it. At week five, I stopped using it altogether. My daughter was sucking properly most of the time, and I could usually get her to latch on. By the time my father came to visit at week eight she and I were a breastfeeding team.

The lactation consultant says this is a situation she sees often. Babies born prematurely do not always have mature sucking skills. There were a lot of days I was ready to give up and pump exclusively but thanks to the help I received, I've been breastfeeding for over six months.

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