Dear Uma, my exclusively breastfed 22 week old son is healthy, happy, and at the 90th percentile in weight and it's all because of you. I cannot thank you enough for all your support, guidance, and patience. I don't know what I would have done without you! I remember the first night in the hospital trying to breastfeed my son after he was born. I didn't know how to position him. He wasn't latching. I had no milk. I felt as if I was already failing him as a mother and he was going to starve. I wanted to breastfeed him and didn't want the hospital staff giving him formula. I needed help.
My son needed help. I called Mother & Child in the morning and Uma came to the hospital later that day. She showed me how to hold him to nurse and was able to get him to latch. She reassured me that although my milk hadn't come in yet, there was enough colostrum for him as he only required a very small amount the first few days anyway. She gave me confidence and when she left I thought that I'd be able to feed him later that evening. The evening came, and it was a repeat of the prior evening...no latching. I tried desperately to recreate everything that we did when Uma was helping but it wasn't working. I was distraught.
The next morning I called Mother & Child again. I was being discharged that day and needed more breastfeeding support. Thankfully Mhairi was able to come to my home that afternoon. She helped show me how to nurse lying down, and how to pump and feed him with a syringe in case later that evening we were having more latch issues. Once again, I felt more confident when she left. And once again, that evening was a struggle. My husband and I ended up feeding our son via a syringe with the small amount of milk I was able to express as my milk still hadn't really come in.
The next few weeks involved lots of home visits from Mhairi as well as me spending a lot of time at Mother & Child. Anxiety surrounded every feed - Would he latch? Would he get enough milk? I thought, 'for something that is supposed to be so natural why isn't this working?!' Although my milk finally came in, my son was still having latch issues.
We used nipple shields until he was 8 weeks old. Breastfeeding is something that both my son and I had to learn. It was difficult and took a lot of perseverance. There were many days I wanted to quit but told myself to take it one feed at a time.
I wish I could tell every mother that is beginning breastfeeding to be patient, relax, and give it just one more day. We have just begun introducing solids. While it is new and exciting, ironically sometimes I wish I could instead just exclusively breastfeed my son until he's five years old. Why?...because it's so easy and convenient.
Meredith and Alex