How La Leche League Provided Guidance and Support to Me
Despite the fact that I wasn’t able to breastfeed my older daughter beyond a month, I decided to try again when I was pregnant for the second time. I did not have a very clear idea of what lay ahead nor what this path would bring along.
Five years after an extremely traumatic experience of birthing my first daughter vaginally with the assistance of vacuum extraction, and followed by a physically painful and mentally exhausting postpartum period, I was not able to breastfeed for more than a month or so. I believe the reasons for such an outcome stretch wide and relate to my youth and inexperience, the lack of professional health care and support, and most of all, my ignorance about the existence of La Leche League and its beneficial guidance and support.
After my second daughter was born via cesarean under general anesthesia, I wasn’t able to get to know her and hold her close to me until the next morning. Nonetheless, I instinctively put her to my breasts, and she latched on properly and began sucking vigorously. We stayed at the hospital for six days. During this time I tried to keep her skin-to-skin, by my side, and all in all as close as possible. Our breastfeeding journey had a good start. She gained weight and had frequent and adequate bowel movements.
From the very first days of her life, I have used the Internet to search for information about breastfeeding and possible problems that may arise. I soon came across a forum moderated by a La Leche League Leader. Additionally, I found other web pages about breastfeeding that were also maintained by Leaders. Soon I discovered the official La Leche League International website. From then on, the abundance of information about breastfeeding became endless. Truly, there was not a topic out there that has not already been covered in some way by Leaders or other experienced breastfeeding mothers. I continued to read through the vast material on breastfeeding and started to educate myself about how to maintain a proper milk supply to provide for my baby’s needs.
Unfortunately, there is not a La Leche League Group in my local area. However, I have been able to attend one Group meeting where I chatted with a Leader and other mothers about breastfeeding problems, introducing solid foods, and many other parenting topics. At the meeting, although I was with unfamiliar people, I felt accepted, comfortable, and supported. That is when I became a member of La Leche League.
The fact is that without the mother-to-mother support and advice given to me by La Leche League, I would have followed the same path of ending breastfeeding prematurely as I did with my older daughter. I wish I had received support from health care professionals, nurses, and midwives in the maternity hospital, especially when I had to deal with positioning and latching. They focused on my baby’s weight after feedings and at daily check-ups. How my precious baby received my milk did not seem to really matter to them.
The same story followed when the home care nurse tried to convince me that I did not have enough milk because my baby cried soon after nursing. After examining my breasts, she felt that I needed fuller breasts to produce sufficient milk. She also concluded that I needed to use a nipple shield due to my cracked nipples and that I should supplement with artificial baby milk.
When I look back, I have to admit that this advice nearly lowered my self-esteem and undermined my ability to use my own motherly instincts. Thankfully, I tried to ignore her advice and stubbornly continued breastfeeding without ceasing. I had my baby at the breast almost constantly, encouraging her to suck actively and efficiently.
My baby thrives exclusively on my milk at four-and-one-half months old. Her development has risen above all expectations: she has reached the 95th percentile for weight and the 75th percentile for length. In addition, she is a healthy and satisfied baby who has reached all her current developmental milestones.
I am sure in my heart that I would have been completely lost if it had not been for the loving guidance and support of La Leche League. Thank you!