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Latch-on Problems

By Carey Bryson, Anderson, Indiana

I was a single, teenage, pregnant high-school dropout on top of the world, in love with my unborn child and her father. All I heard about breastfeeding was that I was too young, didn’t eat well enough, and wouldn’t have time for that and my friends. After a horrible birth, 20 stitches in my crotch and the shakes from Pitocin and Nubain, I wanted nothing to do with my baby.

I was horribly depressed; my beautiful baby was severely allergic to formula and I overcompensated by spending all the extra money we had on books and toys.

Pregnant again, I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding twelve times, and would not give in to offers of drugs or to have my water bag broken. I hemorrhage after birth, but this didn’t stop me from nursing my baby, 20 minutes each side, right after delivery.

“I’m doing it, I’m doing it!” I shouted, overjoyed. My baby was whisked away for tests and shots, and after to the nursery. “Wait, I’m rooming in,” I said. The nurse said they were just going to observe her for four hours, and I reminded her no bottles or pacifiers. She said they would just give one bottle, to see if she could suck and swallow. I said NO!

I waited two hours and walked down the hall and demanded my baby. I took her back to my room and tried to nurse. She refused. I waited two more hours, and tried again. She refused. I rang for help. “You want breastfeeding help?” We don’t have time; just give her the bottle of glucose water in the drawer of her crib.” the nurse replied. I asked for extra pillows, so I could get a better position to latch on my baby. “Sure,” said the nurse. Two hours later, no pillows.

At shift change, an older nurse helped me get the baby latched on. “Only ten minutes, then give the glucose water,” she said. She was no help.

I left the hospital with my baby sucking on the tip of my finger. She would not latch on, and I would not give her water. I drizzled colostrum into her mouth, pumped and fed her my milk or the formula the hospital gave me in a bottle.

On Christmas Eve the doctor on call said my baby had jaundice, and she should have no breast or pumped breastmilk. He bilirubin was very high. I decided to stop breastfeeding.

The next day, another doctor on call told me to pump milk and use it until the jaundice was gone. What an angel! A day later the jaundice was gone and I was fully engorged. I pumped and gave my daughter my milk in a bottle. I had so much I started freezing it.

That night, my husband and daughters slept, but I didn’t. There was an overwhelming sense of peace and love. All was calm. The baby rustled as I stood over her, but didn’t cry. I picked her up, took her over and sat down on the couch. I felt a strong let-down and saw my milk seep into my shirt. I unsnapped the hook on my bra and latched my baby on. She took to my breast like she had in the delivery room.

I knew then I had accomplished the greatest task of my life. I had never been, and probably never will be again, so happy in all my life.

My daughter is 2 1/2 and still nursing. She has never slept alone, and no artificial nipple has touched her lips since she was six days old.

We overcame many obstacles, including a breast infection, an employer who would not provide a place for me to pump, and a kidney infection I had when she was five months old, but nothing ever kept me from nursing her and nothing ever will.

I am a breastfeeding peer-counselor at my local WIC clinic and hope to give the support and help I could not find, to new mothers. I hope my story will inspire another mother to keep trying and be cautious of the medical community.

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The Compleat Mother Magazine
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