How I Found a Mutually Beneficial Breastfeeding Relationship-
Breastfeeding World’s Guest Post Series
Breastfeeding World feels privledged to share a series of stories, based on the Breastfeeding relationships of real women and their children. We are so touched by Jaclyn’s story of determination to have a successful breastfeeding relationship with her son. We applaud her relationships with her husband, lactation consultant, and her Facebook group of mom friends- all who supported her along the way. What began as a tumultuous start with tongue ties, pumps, and swallow studies, continued into a beautiful, nourishing relationship between mother and son. Thank you, Jaclyn for sharing your journey with us!
Jaclyn Keifer’s Breastfeeding Journey
Our first child blessed my husband and I in October of 2015. At first, Henry needed a feeding tube. So despite our birth plan, he began formula. Because of his situation, I immediately started pumping. Once he could suck/swallow/breathe with a pacifier, we started trying to nurse. Unfortunately, my son had a tongue and lip tie, making our nursing relationship very difficult.
I remember asking for visits from lactation often and one morning, Kathy arrived. Kathy was our saving grace. She spent hours with our little family. She instilled such confidence and peace in my heart that no matter what, we had a successful breastfeeding relationship.
Once we got home, we bounced from bottles to breast while trying to find someone to handle his ties. At one point, our pediatrician suggested an ENT. Unfortunately the ENT didn’t have a strong understanding between ties and breastfeeding. He only clipped his ties- so we still had significant issues. We later visited Kathy at her breastfeeding clinic, and she suggested a local dentist. We met with Dr. Newman a few days before my son was a month old. He did an excellent job explaining his process and how this would help our son. The procedure took a few seconds, and my husband and I thought this was the end to our struggles.
Since birth, our son hadn’t shown any weight gain. Our pediatrician suggested formula at each visit and weight check but I happily declined, confident that my milk was sufficient. We initially thought it was due to his feeding issues but after measuring his intake with bottles, we felt that there was more to the situation so we went to the hospital. The next day our son failed the swallow study. Concerned, I thought that this meant our son would never nurse again.
The thought devastated me.
During this time, I was so blessed to have a strong, supportive husband. He too, reminded me that we would get through this and no matter what, we would do what was best for Henry. So, I composed myself and did the same thing I did when he was born- I started pumping.
The plan was to have another swallow study when my son was ~4 months old. Until then, I pumped and pumped, determined to make enough to nourish my son. We visited multiple specialists who told me that even if he did pass his swallow study, getting him back to nursing would be extremely difficult but “essentially impossible” after 5-6 months.
I called a few breastfeeding support groups. After I explained my situation and many of them responded the same. “I’ve never seen that before” or “I don’t think that’s even possible”. So, we went back to see our favorite IBCLC, Kathy and watched other moms nurse while I pumped. There, I found the support I needed to press on. The most inspiring thing that I recall was when she reminded me that Henry was at high risk for pneumonia when he was eating orally but because of breast milk’s components, that is likely why he never got pneumonia. This reinforced my determination to exclusively breastfeed my baby.
Back to Breast
In early February, the time had come. We went to the same room as my son’s previous swallow study and watched a totally different experience. He passed every consistency and went home on oral feeds. Many struggle with tube feed weaning- it often takes months. Henry, however, seemed just as determined as me and just 6 days later, he had his last feeding from his tube. I then decided to start trying to get him back to breast.
Everything leading to this point was difficult- but nothing feels worse to a mom striving to nurse her child and her child refusing and crying each and every time she attempts to nurse him. I didn’t know of any other moms that had experienced what I did. So I found a wonderful Facebook group that helped me keep trying. Admittedly, I didn’t try at every feed and not always every day. When I felt ready to quit, I reminded myself that before all of the medical issues, my son found incredible comfort in nursing and I missed the bond we shared. My husband and I talked about it often. We always came to the same conclusion: as long as I felt like my attempts focused on a mutually beneficial relationship, then I would continue trying. Finally, nearly 8 weeks later- he latched!
Successful Breastfeeding Relationship
This was huge! I don’t remember all of the crazy things I tried, but one day he became interested. The End. We spent so many months checking in with specialists. They each insisted that my 2nd percentile son needed to gain weight via formula- even though my step children are also on the same percentile. After speaking with our new pediatrician, I felt confident when I chose not to follow these people.
Henry is nearly a year old now and loves nursing. I feel thankful that I stayed committed to my son- proud that he is exclusively breastfed and I still look forward to each feed.
I think that we experienced all of this as a test. Despite it all, we passed and the reward is sweeter than ever. Before our son, my husband had very little experience or knowledge with breastfeeding but quickly became my greatest advocate and cheerleader. He would arrange his work schedule around Henry’s appointments and support group meetings and would remind me that my efforts were not in vain while trying to get him nursing again.
I also find greater appreciation in each moment my son and I share together- especially each nursing session. It has also inspired me to put more effort in allowing my son to self wean. The innocent joy I see in him during each feed reminds me that nothing else matters but our relationship when it comes to weaning and I don’t want to rush him growing up in any way.
Do you have an amazing and inspiring nursing journey to share with Breastfeeding World? Have you experienced some difficulty for you and your little, one but you pushed through? We want to hear about it! Submit your story, to email@example.com, and you could find your story featured in our site!
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