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Understanding Breastfeeding

by Rev. Vivian Dietemann, St. Louis, Missouri

Knowing how to breastfeed should be as common as knowing how to brush your teeth.

My mother told me the family doctor said I had inverted nipples, and would never be able to breastfeed. (This same man told her she had thin, watery, blue milk that didn’t have enough fat in it, so she weaned me at six weeks).

In the military hospital, I was not allowed to “have” my baby for several hours after he was born. On the second day, when I returned from lunch, my baby was missing from his bed. He had been taken to be circumcised. The baby that was returned to me was not the same; biologically he was, but psychologically and spiritually, he was no longer quiet, and cried a lot. I swore I would never let anyone do that to a child of mine again.

My son couldn’t latch on to my breast because he couldn’t get a hold of the nipple. He cried and cried and I put him on formula.

When I found out I was pregnant again, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I attended La Leche League meetings, read books, and purchased nipple shields. What I didn’t know was that if I wore them constantly, then stopped, that I would get a breast infection. So then I wore the shield without missing a day, and slowly weaned my breast from their use a week or so before my due date.

I was celibate since 4 1/2 months pregnant. Had I known love-making would help my labour along, I might have considered calling a male friend to help things along. I made a fuss about not having an IV or fetal monitor during labour. They let me nurse my son in the delivery room for 15 minutes, and again in the recovery room for about 20 minutes before he was taken to the nursery. We didn’t have any trouble latching on and I made sure he was not circumcised.

I closely monitored how many wet diapers he had, knowing that at the first sign of problems my mother would suggest he wasn’t getting enough. I did have four breast infections during the first year, but we worked through them using a small hot water bottle on my breast.

At about 10 months he can down with a virus, and by the end of the week was so listless he refused to nurse. I expressed my milk for a day, to keep up a milk supply. He started again, went back to exclusively breastfeeding, and refused solids for three weeks. By the time he was a year old, he was eating table food again.

People always tried to feed him candy, cookies and Kool-Aid. I purchased a T-shirt that said, “Don’t Feed Me Junk!” That seemed to get the point across.

He did bite me, at least twice. The second time I recall saying, “Phooey, you hurt Mommy.” Somehow, after this whenever he wanted to nurse he would say “Phurt. Mommy, Phurt.” We continued to be a happy nursing couple until three days before his fourth birthday. We knew how.

Beautiful stories, page 3

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