by Nicole Miller, Toronto, Ontario
I had my first child in New Zealand.
My pregnancy was difficult near the end, and preeclampsia forced an induction by prostaglandins at 39 weeks. My son was a healthy, seven pound baby with a tongue tie. (His septum holds his tongue down and he is unable to project his tongue out of his mouth.)
I had great difficulty and pain during the first few days. My son was not latching on properly, and he was suckling towards the edge of my nipple instead of taking it into his throat. This caused bleeding, and chapped nipples that hurt so much that I cried when he sucked.
At four days old we went to the maternity annex birthing center, where my son vomited a huge amount of blood. Bronwyn, my midwife, knew immediately that the blood was not a terminal disease, but was indeed milk and blood from my breasts. For the next two weeks she came to my house every day, and helped me position him far back on my breast, by basically shoving my whole nipple into his open mouth. My breasts healed and felt fine. The support I was given was invaluable and I was never told to ‘give up’ or that I didn’t have the ability to breastfeed my child.
It was a real shock to me to return home to Canada and find the enormity of pressure (from the large multinational baby formula companies) to quit breastfeeding within a ‘reasonable’ amount of time, and follow on with their inferior product. The attitude seems to stem from the notion that our breasts are playthings for men. Even within my family I find pressure to ‘hurry up and wean that kid.’ I find it sad.
Today I nurse my 14-month-old son, and wait the arrival of his brother or sister due in two weeks. Despite many dire warnings, I still have milk for him and he still loves nursing. It is an amazing comfort for him and gives us 15 minutes of quiet, together time at least twice a day. What could be more nurturing and relaxing?
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