NS-de-BelenYes, it is possible!

This is the history of our battles, sufferings and triumph with breastfeeding.

As health care professionals, we have taught many women post-childbirth how to breastfeed their babies successfully. Hence we believed we had enough knowledge and desire to feed our daughter exclusively with breast milk. We knew the advantages of breastfeeding for mother and baby. During our pregnancy, we began to prepare physically and mentally to breastfeed our first baby, and we received aid and advice at a prenatal clinic. We obtained books about breastfeeding from La Leche League and other advocates of ecological breastfeeding and Catholic motherhood. At prenatal classes we received additional instructions and we registered ourselves in a special class on breastfeeding for new parents. This class was very helpful so much so that my husband won “first place” for the best football hold. We watched videos on mothers breastfeeding without difficulty in Africa and other very poor places in the world. We prayed to have natural childbirth, because we thought that with an un-medicated labor and delivery, breastfeeding would happen more naturally and so it happened. Our daughter, Gianna Manuela was born happy and healthy; before my husband, Daniel, cut the umbilical cord, we placed her to the breast. The first day of our baby’s life we experience total excitation, fatigue, joy, and the pain of sore nipples. The nurses at the natural birth center offered me lanolin cream and I almost finished the whole tube the first day. The pain was very intense but I felt everything was going to be OK. A lactation consultant visited to us and she said that we should keep trying and that I should avoid excess of lanolin.  Twenty four hours after childbirth, we arrived home, and besides the severe pain in my already bleeding nipples, we were overjoyed. The truth is that our little Gianna Manuela was receiving colostrum but she was not latching on properly. Thus at four days old, she showed signs of dehydration and jaundice; and she needed liquids and treatment with UV light. We were very tired, but we wanted to keep trying to breastfeed. When the pediatrician told us to use formula in a baby’s bottle, we were so disappointed, because we thought that we were abandoning our plan to feed our baby exclusively with breast milk. After much inner struggle and prayer, we grudgingly accepted giving her the bottle. After feeding Gianna two or three bottles full of formula, my breasts began to feel full and heavy, Alleluia! We began to pump milk with a very efficient electrical pump, and I began to give our daughter breast milk from the bottle. The fact that we could use some breast milk and formula calmed me down a bit, but I still felt that I was not doing what I wanted to do; I wanted to exclusively feed my baby with breast milk. We kept using the pump, and my milk production was increasing gradually. Gianna Manuela was receiving more breast milk than formula in a bottle but still she was unable to latch on correctly. She tried to, but then she would cry in frustration, and I also cried. At times I thought, “Breastfeeding is not for all women and maybe I should forget about it, keep the bottles, and enjoy my daughter.” But luckily I have a wonderful man at my side who said to me: “Do not be afraid; keep trying; I am with you.” He was always ready to ply me with liquids and allow me to rest. Gianna Manuela was getting used to the bottle and she cried more when we tried get her to latch on. When she turned 8days old, I called a leader from La Leche league and, although it was late at night, she listened intently to our case and gave us an appointment to see her the following day. At her home there she made me sit on a recliner and she helped me put Gianna Manuela on my breast. Immediately Gianna latched on “perfectly” and began drinking breast milk. The leader joke with me: What is the problem? My husband took pictures and we thought “oh what a joy she is breastfeeding.” But when we arrived home, nothing! Gianna did not latch on, and she continued crying, so I had to give her the bottle again. We consulted again with the LLL leader, and she recommended a supplemental feeding system to help us deal with the nipple confusion. But Gianna Manuela efficiently mastered the new system, using it as a straw, still not latching on. Soon we move to finger feeding. This system was very tiring for us, especially at mid-night, we expend hours giving her an ounce of milk; during this time, however,we were able to watcha number of movies! In short, our daughter turned one month old and still no breastfeeding. Our parents in Colombia were concerned and recommended that we try natural remedies. Friends encourage us, telling us similar histories, and we visited a chiropractor. We were wore out, tired and ready to quit trying. My mother obtained an image of Maria virgin nursing baby Jesus, and she said to me that I should pray for her intersection, she said “miracles happen”. We began to pray to virgin Maria in advocating of our lady of Bethlehem, an image painted some centuries ago showing the mother of our Lord after nursing. We thought that still being able to pump and give our daughter some breast milk was a blessing. I was planning to keep doing it for at least for 6 months. But God had other plans. Again we consulted the LLL leader and she recommended us a system with a bottle with controlled flow. This system adapted her more to the breast. Another lactation consultant recommended us a nipple shield. We had used it before so we thought it was not going to work, but in this occasion it worked! Our baby took latched on with the nipple shield and she nursed directly from my breast one day before she turned 2 months old. The prayers to our Lady of Bethlehem worked. After one week using the nipple shield we tried bare breast and it worked! What a joy eh? Since then Gianna Manuela nurse from her “maternitos” every 3 hours in the day and also it does at night. No more bottles. We enjoyed so much breastfeeding. It has been an incomparable gift for the three in the family. In the month of October we attended the region LLL conference and we met Sheila Kippley author of books about breast feeding and natural child spacing. We told her our history of triumphant breastfeeding, and she was very happy. Now our daughter is 11 moths old, and we plan to nurse her until she wean naturally. We look at the past and we laugh a lot, but we recognize that it was worthy all our efforts, troubles, and sufferings. Right now, we are following ecological breastfeeding NFP method. We feel very happy to share our adventures with breastfeeding and we are looking forward to help women specially in the Hispanic community because now we said with confidence Yes it is possible!