With the NICU team on standby, my beautiful son was welcomed into the world four weeks early. Much to the doctors’ surprise after a suspected placental abruption, he was ‘perfectly fine.’ He didn’t need to spend any time in the NICU and had no health problems… except that he would not suck, let alone latch.
I had always planned on breastfeeding him, but my naivety led me to dismiss the need to attend a prenatal breastfeeding class. So here I was, with a very sleepy newborn who had no desire to nurse, and very little knowledge of the tools that I could use to assist in breastfeeding.
I was fortunate to give birth in a hospital with lactation consultants that made a point of visiting me several times throughout the day. I learned about nipple shields, pumps, and suck training (sticking my pinky into his mouth and syringe feeding him every time I felt him suck). All of these assistive technologies, while helpful, were very discouraging for a first time mother who came to the hospital with the notion that breastfeeding would be natural and easy.
If you’ve read my post about our breastfeeding story on my blog, you know that this trip was my breaking point. After days of pumping in airports and rental cars, and struggling to help my son latch onto the nipple shield, I broke down in tears in Portland’s International Rose Garden, and ditched the shield. I used a sandwich hold to shove as much nipple into my son’s mouth as possible and held his head in place. He wiggled against me, trying to break free from this strange ‘bottle,’ but after a few minutes he began to suck. His latch made my toes-curl from pain, but it was the most beautiful, hope-filled pain I have ever felt.
It took a few more weeks of craniosacral therapy, a tongue tie revision, and lactation consultations, but I was finally able to have the breastfeeding relationship that I had always dreamed of… and I one hundred percent attribute that to my countless hours of pumping and his exclusive bottle feeding. When I first started bottle feeding, I felt like a failure. I felt like I was weak for not being able to persevere through the pain. Now looking back, I was doing what was best for my sanity, while still providing for my son. Had I not taken that extended break from nursing, I might not have been able to keep my supply up long enough for my son’s mouth to grow so that he could open it wide enough to latch to my breast.
While I now exclusively nurse, and am so grateful to be able to do so, I have immense respect for all the women out there that selflessly pump day and night to nourish their babies.
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Latest posts by Amber Castro (see all)
- When Your Baby Doesn’t Suck - November 19, 2015
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- One of the biggest reasons for babywearing: Convenience! - October 7, 2015