Sarah’s Breastfeeding Journey
“I watched my mom breastfeed my younger siblings growing up. We also fed them with bottles of breastmilk and formula, so I just assumed that this was how it was done. Breastfeeding was natural, easy, instinctual. Right?
I had my son 8 months ago, at the age of 36. He was a perfect 8 lbs 13 oz, born an hour and 49 minutes after his due date. I was prepared and informed. I’m so glad that my Hypnobabies program warned me that breastfeeding was NOT always easy and that many many women need assistance in this area, that I could reach out to lactation consultants or other professionals for support. And that it was worth the effort and hassel.
Honestly, if I wasn’t knowledgeable that our breastfeeding journey could possibly begin with a struggle and that I should pursue pushing through, I don’t know if I would have been able to continue our journey and I can only imagine the emotional turmoil that quitting would have brought me. The struggle in the beginning was rough enough.
Jamie was born in a birthing tub at the birthing center. He entered the world camly and with such sweet blind trust, locking eyes with me. My midwife and I put him to my breast after I was stitched up, a couple hours after birth. It took some maneuvering and patience to get him to latch for that first time, and I remember already feeling surprised that it didn’t just happen more organically. When it first finally happened,I felt pride along with that surge of super hormones. I was on top of the world!
He latched a bit easier later as we rested before leaving, and once more before we left. Our midwife mentioned a possible slight tongue tie, which my hypnotherapy program mentioned, so again luckily I was a little prepared with how to deal with that, but not really. Even those three times he’s latched at this point, never once just independently or without help, but I was ecstatic and proud that we had it down! I thought it would get easier and he just needed practice and repetition and then he would be a pro. I was wrong.
After we got home we tried and tried…. My husband and I employed all the tricks our midwife and books taught us. It just wasn’t working. We felt scared and disappointed every time he got frustrated and angry while trying without avail, flailing about and crying.
My mom and mother-in-law ran to Buy Buy Baby and purchased a nipple shield as the lactation consultants recommended during one of our calls. None of us had any idea that they came in different sizes! The one they bought was too small and he wasn’t able to retrieve any milk from latching. We finally decided to pump and feed him colostrum via a syringe. We called again and were told that this was a good move. The joy and relief that we felt when we went from being able to pump 3 ml, to 5. Every drop was gold, we felt such relief each time he sucked it down, first through the syringe until we began transferring it to a nipple. We googled and we made phone calls. My husband and I needed reassurance that our baby wasn’t starving. I continued to put him to the breast, but he got increasingly frustrated at each subsequent attempt, so we continued with pumping. But other than that, he was content, relaxed, sweeter than sweet.
Our 2 day check-up appointment couldn’t come soon enough! We dressed him up like a doll and beamed as we introduced him to everyone at the center. Our appointment was a god send, the support and calm it brought us was immeasurable. Our midwife showed me how to side-lay and he stayed latched and nursing for about an hour through the rest of the appointment. Again, we left feeling hopeful, excited, and proud. His weight loss was minimal and he looked great all around. Then we got home and he couldn’’t latch again. Of course we were frustrated and disheartened. He showed off to the professionals, yet refused to latch at home. My milk came in the next day and I was so engorged that he couldn’t even come close to latching. We rushed back in for an appointment with a lactation consultant. I am so happy that they called to check in on us when I told them that we needed help.
This time they fitted us with a proper nipple shield and encouraged us to take him in for a lip tie consultation. Though Jamie nursed well with the shield, we knew that we needed to go to the pediatric dentist for a consultation. His little tongue didn’t come past his lips when he attempted to stick it out. I cried every time I thought of him undergoing a frenectomy procedure. It brought me stress, anxiety, and sadness everytime the thought crept into my mind. But I knew that it might need to be done and would be for the better. I didn’t want him to struggle developmentally with eating and then possibly later with speech.
Finally at 2 weeks old we took him in. Low and behold, he had a tongue tie and an even more severe lip tie. The frenectomies took a total of maybe 3 minutes in all to repair. His upset subsided as soon as I scooped him up. I tried latching, but let him take the bottle after not latching right away. From the next day on, he’s been latching like a champ, better and better each day till he got it down real good. Now he latches before I even lay down or have a chance to get comfortable. Those first two weeks were stressful and filled with tears from all, but it was oh so worth it all now. The boob is magic. It keeps our babes alive, growing chunkier and chunkier. It soothes all ailments, it bonds, calms, and everything else that is good on this earth. Watching him with locked eyes while my body nourishes his and he holds my breast tight, it fills my heart. We will continue on this sacred journey together until he is ready to draw it to an end. It will forever remain my favorite memories of him and I in his youngest years.”
-Sarah’s Breastfeeding Journey with Jamie