The wife of one of my authors had been through the same thing with her first child, and was a big inspiration to me in the marathon of pumping for that whole year. She has since had two more kids, and both of them have nursed. I asked her recently what the secret was, and she basically said "perseverance." That makes me feel a little stinky, like she/I could have made it work the first time if we'd just tried a little harder. (Regret stinks, so I don't want to think that. I don't know if she thinks that or not, though.) But nonetheless, with one or both of the latter babies, she did have some trouble again, but went back to the lactation consultant as many times as it took to teach that baby to nurse. And it worked!
If Claire has similar nursing troubles to Kate, there are several things I'll do differently.
- Recognize it sooner. I feel so guilty for not realizing just how little milk she was getting during those frustrating, start-and-stop nursing attempts during her first five days.
- In light of that, I'd start pumping sooner just to make sure she was getting enough to eat...
- ...but I'd also seek more help to try to make nursing work. Kate and I had a couple sessions with the lactation consultant while still in the hospital, and we went back one more time after going home, but I could have done more.
And if, after all that, she still won't nurse well, I'll gladly pump again, and I'll do it the whole year. There are a couple benefits of exclusive pumping, so it's not a total hardship:
- Other people can feed her, and I get a little alone time while pumping.
- I made enough milk for two babies, so had a huge frozen stash that lasted until Kate was about 15 months old, and was able to give some to babies whose mommies couldn't nurse or pump.
- Making so much milk is an excellent calorie-burner. The baby weight--and then some--just melted away. (That's enough to make me want to pump on the side this time, even if she does nurse!)
- One I just realized after reading blogs from other working moms who stressed over the transition back to work, having to teach their babies to take a bottle and get themselves in the groove of pumping. We were already doing that even on maternity leave, so feeding/pumping was a non-issue when I went back to work. (Excerpt for finding a good, private place to pump at work, which is indeed a challenge.)
What has your breastfeeding experience been?