By Kathryn Koonce
|Eli at one month|
Two weeks after my son Eli was born in February 2012, his doctor was concerned that he wasn’t gaining enough weight even though I was nursing him around the clock.
I was exhausted, felt like a huge failure, and was getting pressure from all around to give up and use formula.
The problem was that he was not latching correctly. He was doing “non-nutritive sucking” - he would stay at the breast for long periods of time (sometimes more than an hour) for comfort, but wasn’t taking much milk.
I felt a surge of pain like lightening throughout my body each time he latched but I didn’t realize this was because he wasn’t latching correctly. Ultimately my supply went down and he wasn’t getting enough milk which made him very, very fussy. Our first two weeks together were miserable.
|Eli at 3 months|
I worked with a great lactation consultant and after three weeks of very hard work (charting Eli’s feeding schedule, expressing and nursing at least 12 times a day, and weighing Eli before and after feeds) we finally got back on track. When he started to really gain weight and his thighs became soft and pudgy, I was a very proud Mama!
When my daughter Naomi was born in December 2013, I was able to recognize when she was not latched correctly but I still experienced intense pain and even worse – mastitis (a breast infection that started with a clogged milk duct). I was so weak that I couldn’t get out of bed until finally I was treated with antibiotics.
|Naomi at 3 months|
But I recovered and things got much easier. My daughter will be eight-months-old on August 10 and I am still breastfeeding her even though I have returned to work.
I was surprised that breastfeeding was so difficult. I thought that it would come naturally and easily immediately after my babies were born.
I was also surprised by how down I felt when I wasn’t able to provide my son with the most basic thing that he needed. I want women everywhere to know that breastfeeding doesn’t always come easily. PYM