Sunday, 26 June 2005 17:30

A Breastfeeding Success Story

A Breastfeeding Success Story

by Tammi LaTorre


My name is Tammi, I am the mom of 4.

I have both bottle-fed and breastfed. In all honesty, I was ignorant on the truths of breastfeeding until I chose to educate myself. I feel it is so important for new parents to research all their options from methods of childbirth to feeding their new baby, then an informed decision can be made.

My first was born in 1988. I was 23. The thought of breastfeeding did not appeal to me. I attended a hospital sponsored childbirth education class. I barely remember breastfeeding mentioned, whatever was said did NOT make any kind of impression or impact. My conclusion was; if the hospital doesn't promote or encourage breastfeeding than bottle-feeding must be okay.

I was naive. Formula did not agree with my son, he cried constantly because of gas and constipation. Ear infections were another major problem, he had to have tubes surgically placed in his ears at 9 months.

My next was born in 1990. I did not attend any preparation classes this time. Again I assumed bottle-feeding was okay. No one suggested breastfeeding. I had another gassy, constipated, and constantly crying baby. Ear infections were also a problem but not as severe.

My next was born in 1993. Again I attended no classes and assumed bottle-feeding was okay. Breastfeeding was never mentioned. Again I had an unhappy tummy troubled baby with ear infections and eczema. Not once with or after my children were born did anyone mention breastfeeding could have decreased if not prevented the problems we dealt with. Breastfeeding never even crossed my mind

In 1995 I was pregnant again. I knew this baby was going to be my last, I wanted to take nothing for granted. I bought my first breastfeeding book out of curiosity. It was an eye-opening experience. My mind was made up - how could I not breastfeed knowing all the facts. I attended a breastfeeding class and read all the books I could get my hands on. I wanted to be informed and prepared.

My son, Samuel Louis, was born on 10/27/95, 16 days early by c-section. ( I had a difficult pregnancy with kidney problems and an obstructed ureter.) In recovery I wanted to nurse my new son. A Nursery nurse was called to assist us. She came in my room, looked at me, said I was attached to too many wires, and walked out. I was stunned. My husband attempted to help me but we were like the Three Stooges, with baby making three. I was in tears. My Labor and Delivery nurse thankfully came into the room and helped.

Our first experience was a disappointment, I was in pain from the incision and Sammy didn't seem to be interested in sucking but I was determined to get this right. I was in the hospital for 5 days because of my kidney. I had a difficult time getting Sammy to latch on correctly. This lasted a couple of days; some nurses were very helpful and stayed with me till we got him latched on properly while others made quick attempts and others made none at all.

I experienced different nurses and many different opinions expressed to me whether I asked or not. Keeping him in my room was a constant battle; he had to be in the nursery when the shifts changed or the paediatricians made their rounds, or so I was told. I discovered saying "He just started to nurse," usually got us a lot more time. I was encouraged to supplement because of his weight loss and lack of wet diapers. I refused. His weight loss was minimal and he was wetting fine according to my paediatrician and my count of his wet diapers. (He was 1 oz shy of his 8 lb. 1 oz. birth weight on day 5).

A Lactation Consultant was on staff but I never felt comfortable with her. She seemed to make her rounds while the babies were in the nursery. Needless to say, I went home with bleeding and sore nipples. I cried every time he latched on. It took about a week but we corrected our problems and I was finally able to painlessly nurse. I quickly discovered I had a baby that did NOT suffer from gas pains, constipation, eczema, or inconsolable crying. What a difference!! I didn't realize being a mom could be so enjoyable and I could satisfy my babies needs so easily and completely.

At 14 weeks postpartum I was scheduled for reconstructive kidney surgery requiring a 4 day hospital stay. My urologist wrote on his orders for me to have a private room and I could have my baby brought to me and breastfeed. I pumped and froze a quantity of milk in preparation for when I couldn't nurse.

My hospital experience was terrible, in summary: it took 2 days to get a pump, no one knew how to set up the pump (I was in no shape due to my pain meds), the nurses were angry because they felt a baby should NOT be allowed on the floor for any reason, comments were made to me that this was no place for a baby, and none of the nurses had experience working with a breastfeeding mom, they didn't know what to do with me. At this point I found a private LC. She was my lifeline and able to give me accurate information with adequate explanations. (Mary, I am forever grateful for your wisdom, encouragement and support. Thank you with my heart!)

My kidney problems were not resolved and more tests were and are still required. Pumping and dumping is necessary for up to 24 hrs with these tests. These periods are emotionally and physically difficult. My mind, body, and heart wants to feed my baby but I know I can't. My son's confusion and frustration are apparent and upsetting to me, but we struggle through. The meaningfulness of our nursing relationship is truly expressed after one of these periods. Sammy's excitement and anticipation is expressed by the light in his eyes, happy gooing, and waving arms and legs when he realizes he can finally nurse.

I regret not breastfeeding all my children, but I did what I thought was best determined from the information I was given. I now realize how important is is for parents to be educated about breastfeeding so they can make an informed decision and question contradictions when necessary.

My breastfeeding experiences have given me a new goal in life. I want to counsel nursing moms, I want to help educate them about breastfeeding and help them be secure and comfortable in their ability to make parenting choices regarding breastfeeding. If I can make a difference, one person at a time, I will have reached my goals.

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