With my firstborn I didn’t get my milk in until he was 4 days old.
It was a very stressful and negative situation that left us both very emotional. I cried more in those four days than I did during the following 12 months combined.
It didn’t have to be that way. I know that now.
When I had my second baby, I shared a room with a young c-section mom who didn’t get her milk in for 4 days either (which is common with c-sections), but her experience was positive and left her wanting very much to go on nursing.
What was the difference?
The hospital’s attitude toward supplementing with formula.
Here is where I may cause some debate.
Anyone who knows me for any time at all knows that I advocate breastfeeding 100%. But I also advocate choice, and realize that some mom’s are simply unable to nurse for very long.
Had the hospital had a better attitude toward formula in general I may not have had to supplement with formula, because my firstborn likely would not have lost as much weight as he did in the hospital.
The hospital where I had him only heightened my stress and fear that I wouldn’t get my milk in. Not only did they continue urging me to continue trying to feed him, they failed to recognize that he was hysterical from hunger and that their constant urging, without supplementing him in the meantime. This did not help either of us. He was hungry all day long and by evening wouldn’t even consider latching on, much less nursing. He was literally hysterical from hunger, and I was frantic not knowing what more I could do because the very thing I needed to do to calm him down, I couldn’t. And the hospital simply wouldn’t.
However, the roommate I had while in the hospital with my second born (a different hospital, obviously) had a completely different experience. They urged her to try breastfeeding for 10-20 minutes, after which they took the baby and gave her formula. She got her milk in after 4 days just as I did – but in a less stressful manner. Her baby was satisfied and she had a wonderful, positive experience.
My advise to moms who are anticipating having a c-section, and who want to breastfeed is this:
1. Anticipate getting your milk in late. Knowing ahead of time what you may face, will help you be prepared emotionally. Also remember that you will get your milk in, your body just may need some time for the hormones to kick in.
2. Don’t adopt a negative attitude toward formula and supplement feeding. It will not hurt your child. It may, in fact, help maintain some measure of sanity if you get your milk in late.
3. In those first few days while waiting for your milk to come in, let your baby nurse for at least 10-15 minutes (longer if he/she does not grow hysterical) and then when he grows agitated give him a bottle. Let him latch on and nurse as often as possible (the more the better) as this will help your hormones to kick in, causing your milk to come in.
4. Don’t lose hope. Remain persistent in nursing. Your milk will come in. You just need to be persistent about letting your baby latch on a nurse until it does!
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Rosilind, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together they live in the country with their 2 active boys where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an Associates of Practical Theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of A Little R & R where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.