Saturday, December 11, 2010

Three Amazing Gifts

What gifts has breastfeeding given you or your family? This is the topic for the December Carnival of Breastfeeding. I’ve really had to think about this one a lot before writing about it. I think it has been a little bit different with each child I have breastfed.

Breastfeeding my first child gave me the gift of teaching me how to be a mother. I quickly developed a close relationship with my baby by figuring out his subtle cues that he was ready to nurse.
Through this process I learned how to mother. I learned that nursing is not just about feeding. I think this is the biggest difference between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. I’ve heard it said before that “Bottle feeding is a feeding method, but breastfeeding is a relationship”. I don’t think that is always true for every mother who breastfeeds, for some it is just a feeding method. They develop a relationship in other ways, just like mothers who bottle feed also develop a relationship with their baby. I’ve heard it described as the difference between “breastfeeding” and “nursing”. When you are breastfeeding you are “feeding” your child. When you are “nursing” you are mothering your child at your breast. As a breastfeeding mom I could keep all of my focus on my baby. I never had to take my focus away to prepare a bottle, I could bring baby right to my breast. All I needed to do was nurse and mother my baby at the breast, and as an added benefit, that took care of him being fed as well! Breastfeeding my first child gave me that gift, the gift of showing me how to mother my child.

Shortly after the birth of my second child I became seriously ill. This made breastfeeding very challenging at times. For me, breastfeeding was never an option, in was how I was going to care for my baby. There was never the possibility that breastfeeding wouldn’t work, or that bottle feeding was an alternative. Especially after nursing my first baby. I had just learned how to mother my child at the breast. If I didn’t breastfeed then I’d have to learn all over again, a different way to mother!

Fortunately, breastfeeding was well established by the time I became ill. It turned out to be a real blessing, a gift. Nursing allowed me the ability to care for my baby even on days when I couldn’t get out of bed. If I had been bottle feeding, it would have been very easy to turn the care of my baby over to someone else. Think of the countless hours of skin to skin contact and holding between mother and baby that would have been lost if someone took over care of the baby so that I could “rest and get well”. Breastfeeding my second baby gave me the gift of staying close to my baby, and allowing me to still be a mother when I could do little else.

My third baby was adopted. I did not get to have the joy and physical connection of feeling her grow and move inside me. I didn’t have the opportunity to give birth to her, to see her come into the world and hold her warm little body. I did not know I was going to be her mommy, and meet her, until she was 17 days old. I didn’t need to breastfeed her in order to feed her. She had done well her first 17 days in the NICU on bottles of formula. With the children I gave birth to, breastfeeding was easier than formula feeding. No bottles or formula to prepare or wash. Just lift shirt and insert baby. Nighttime feedings with a full supply of milk were a breeze, I never even had to get out of bed! Now I was in a situation where I had a baby, and it was going to be more work to breastfeed. I didn’t have a milk supply, I still needed to use formula (along with some donor breastmilk). Breastfeeding this baby meant at breast supplementers, pumping, and taking a prescription medication to induce, and hopefully bring in, a milk supply. It would have been easy to bottle feed this baby.

However, the first time I put this baby to my breast, at 18 days old, weighing 4 lbs 0 ounces, I was given a gift. I laid back on some pillows on my bed. I took off my shirt, and stripped her down to only her diaper and laid her on my chest. She immediately threw herself down and latched on to my right breast. Her body completely relaxed. I felt her say, “This is my Mommy. I am so glad to be home.” She is still nursing at 17 months old. The physical and emotional bond that has formed between us is amazing. What an awesome gift!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nursing my early arrival, and battling illness as a breastfeeding mom

In honor of his 9th birthday today, my story of nursing Scootch!

My second son, “Scootch”, was born prematurely at 34 weeks. He was a good size at five pounds, 11 ounces. I was happy that he made it to 34 weeks. At 29 weeks, I started leaking amniotic fluid. Assuming that delivery was imminent, I was given a shot to mature his lungs and sent by ambulance to the nearest hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) over two hours away from our home. We were lucky that I stopped leaking fluid and I was sent home and put on bed rest. I spent the next five weeks in and out of the hospital in an ongoing game to stop my labor. The hardest part of this was being away from my other baby, my 16-month-old son.

Scootch was born healthy and breathing well, but he was sleepy. He did not wake up when I delivered him. It was 24 hours before he cried. I began pumping right away so he could be fed through a tube and almost cried when I saw the few drops of colostrum in the bottle. "This would never be enough! They will insist on giving him formula!" I thought. The doctor then told me he had ordered that he be given five cc of colostrum every three hours. What I had was plenty!

It felt like one frustration after another. I asked that he be given no artificial nipples. I wanted all of his sucking to be at my breast. I was angry when I came in after a shift change to find a pacifier in his mouth. "It says in his chart no artificial nipples!" I informed the new nurse. "Oh, I thought that just meant no bottles," was her response.

I spent the next six days sitting in the bright, noisy NICU trying desperately to get Scootch to nurse, and then pumping afterward. The hospital was very busy at the time and sometimes there wasn't a pump available for me. I often had to track one down. It was almost impossible to get Scootch to wake up to latch on. He would just lie there with his eyes closed and lips shut tight. The nurses watched us. The lactation consultants watched us. "You are doing everything right. Just keep trying," they all said. I tried to hold him and give him as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. He was jaundiced and the nurses wanted him in the incubator under the lights as much as possible. At one point they gave him a special vest with the bili lights so that I could hold him more.

We were over two hours from home, staying in the Ronald McDonald House and going back and forth to the hospital. I was exhausted. There was no place for me to lie down at the hospital. I could only sit in a chair in the NICU. After a couple of days I had to give up on a few middle of the night feedings and try to get some more rest. I was able to leave enough pumped milk for them to give him through his feeding tube while I was gone.

After six days, I got to bring Scootch home. He had only nursed successfully a handful of times (I'm still a little surprised they let me take him home!). When we got home I was terrified. Would I be able to wake him and keep him alert so that I could get enough milk into him? At the same time, I knew nursing would be so much easier to do at home. I could lie on the couch or in bed with him all day and night and let him nurse whenever he wanted. I couldn't do that in the NICU.

After a couple of weeks, things got a lot easier and I no longer worried about Scootch feeding. He was nursing on demand without me having to wake him. He was thriving!

My biggest hurdle was yet to come. When Scootch was just over two months old, I got a bad stomach virus. It hit me really hard and I was taken to the emergency room (ER) by ambulance. At the hospital, the ER doctor was very concerned because I was so sick. He insisted on giving me a strong antibiotic that was not compatible with breastfeeding. I refused, asking to only have fluids and the medication to stop the vomiting. After a few hours, I decided to take the antibiotic. I checked with my local La Leche League Leader and she confirmed that this was one of the few antibiotics that are not compatible with breastfeeding. I could not nurse for 48 hours. This began 48 hours of "pumping and dumping" while Scootch was fed pumped milk from the freezer.

A few weeks later I still was not feeling 100 percent better. I went to the doctor and she ran some tests. It turned out I had clostridium dificil (C. dif). This is an intestinal bug that takes over when you have been getting too many antibiotics and have killed off too much of the "good bacteria." Looking back, I had been on IV antibiotics most of the time I was hospitalized for pre-term labor (just in case the labor was caused by an infection that they did not detect). I had also taken antibiotics when I had mastitis when Scootch was about a month old. The antibiotic from the ER was enough to push me over the edge. A "new" antibiotic, I was told, would cure me. Over the course of the next four months I took several more courses of antibiotics in an attempt to get rid of the C. dif. Every time I would feel better at first, then it would come back worse than before. I was rapidly losing weight, and I was already thin to begin with. Sometimes the diarrhea and cramping were unbearable. It was scary to be alone with my infant and toddler and not know if I was going to end up stuck in the bathroom, feeling as if I might pass out from the pain.

Sometimes I would get dehydrated, too. One time I became so dehydrated that I needed fluids by IV. When that happened, I completely lost my milk supply. I had no more milk in the freezer. "Should I give him some formula?" I wondered. I really wanted my son to only have my milk for as long as needed, but I didn't want him to go hungry either. I knew that if I gave him formula, he would be full and would not want to nurse, and right now, I needed him to nurse to tell my body to make milk. I told myself that as long as he was wetting enough diapers, and was not miserable and screaming, I wouldn't give him formula. I would get in bed with him (I was exhausted) and let him nurse continuously. It was about all that I had the strength to do. As long as he was nursing he was content, even though I was almost back to my pre-pregnancy A cup size and my breasts were soft and limp. After about 24 hours of constant nursing, my breasts were full again. My bra was no longer loose, and he was no longer eating all the time, he was back to every couple of hours. I was amazed at what my body and baby could do, even when I was so sick and weak.

I would feel my supply go up and down depending on how well I was able to stay hydrated. Normally, I had an abundant supply and Scootch would only take one breast per feeding. I could tell when my supply would drop because he would start taking two breasts per feeding. If I got really dehydrated, he would nurse constantly.

After a couple months, even my very breastfeeding supportive husband mentioned the possibility of weaning. I was so sick and weak and having such a hard time keeping any weight on. But I refused to wean.

Even though it took four months, a colonoscopy, and several doctors before I got better, I'm glad I never gave up on breastfeeding. I am so thankful I found the doctor who treated me with probiotic bacteria and special probiotic yeast that kills C. dif. It was very important to me because I knew it was best for Scootch. He went from the bottom of the growth chart as a preemie to about the 75th percent in weight during that time. At the same time, it was important to me because it was something I could do. Here I was, the mother to these two wonderful little boys, and I couldn't even care for them. I can remember my toddler asking me to push him in his swing during this time. It was out on our deck, no more than a few yards from the living room couch. It broke my heart that I was too tired to walk out there and push him in the swing. I could nurse lying down, and even in my sleep. Even if I could do nothing else as a mom, I could nurse my baby. Scootch went on to nurse for 14 months, and is now a happy, healthy nine year old.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Breastfeeding Rebels in the 1950s

Challenged by the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog, I'm posting about the history of breastfeeding in my family. Even though I was too late to actually participate officially, I was inspired to write!

My mother gave birth to her first child in 1955 at the age of 21. She had recently moved to California and was far away from any friends or relatives. She was not one to follow the mainstream. She was an art major in college, she was “natural and crunchy”, and I like to think she was a bit of a hippie before hippies existed. As a result, she did not want to follow the advice of all of the medical professionals who were telling her that bottle-feeding was best.

She gave birth while completely sedated and has no memory of the birth. When she finally got to see her baby she put her baby to her breast. The nurses would come in and tell her “I don’t know why you are doing that. We have perfectly good formula.” She was in the hospital for about a week (as was common at the time) and spent most of the time crying alone in her bed, trying to breastfeed while her nipples cracked and bled. She did not get any help, only pressure to stop being so stupid.

I have to imagine that the nurses gave my brother bottles of formula when he was not with my mother. Everything thing was done to make this breastfeeding relationship fail. She did manage to nurse him for a few months, which was so much more then most babies got in 1955.

Nine years later my parents adopted my older sister. She brought home this beautiful newborn and ached to nurse her. She put her to the breast a couple of times, but, having no idea that it was possible to induce lactation she didn’t tell anyone and quickly stopped. She watched me with great joy as I successfully breastfed my adopted daughter.

My Mom and I with my breastfed adopted daughter:

When I was born in 1967, she breastfed me for a few months. She told me that I was such a big baby (9 lbs. 7 ounces at birth) that she had a hard time producing enough milk for me and needed to supplement with formula, and eventually the formula won. She also breastfed my brother, born in 1968, for a few months.

As she watched me breastfeed my first baby (also over 9 pounds at birth) she told me that she learned a lot from watching me breastfeed. She now realizes that she probably was able to produce enough milk for me, that she just didn’t have the right information.

My family in 1969:

My mother in law gave birth to 9 babies between 1952 and 1964. Amazingly enough, she breastfed them all. She credits the “old school” doctor that she had with her first child who thought all of this new formula was nonsense, and that women were supposed to feed their babies at their breast. I asked her how long she nursed each child and she answered “Until I knew I was pregnant with the next one!”

I’m proud to continue the breastfeeding tradition in my family.

To read other stories of Family Breastfeeding History, please visit these additional blogs. :

Christine @ Christine’s Contemplations: Carnival of Breastfeeding- My Family History of Nursing
Judy @ Mommy News Blog: My Family History of Breastfeeding
Jona @ Breastfeeding Twins: Beer & Bottles (and other motherly advice)
Jake Aryeh Marcus: Breastfeeding? Not in My Family
Elita @ Blacktating: Three Generations of Breastfeeding
Mama Mo @ Attached at the Nip: How Women in My Family Feed Babies
Alicia @ Lactation Narration: Only the Hippies Were Breastfeeding
Dr. Sarah: Breastfeeding, Circa 1950s
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: An Unbroken Chain

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cafemoms Share the Real Benefits of Breasstfeeding

The Real Benefits of Breastfeeding
by Dayna Markley

We all hear about the benefits of breastfeeding from our doctors and other health care professionals. We hear it on TV, newspapers, magazines, just about everywhere! Well, what about the benefits we don't always hear about? The real benefits of breastfeeding.

All the health benefits of breastfeeding are wonderful but the amazing emotional benefits to moms and babies are something you get to see and feel each day! I know well the deep feelings of love, closeness, and pride that come with nursing your little one.

The breastfeeding moms group on the site, a social site like facebook that is just for mothers, is a place for breastfeeding moms to come together and talk. Not to my surprise, many of the other moms had similar experiences to share.

I want to share our thoughts and feelings with everyone who is a mother or soon will be because I feel these benefits aren't spoken about nearly enough! So here are some of the real benefits of breastfeeding, quoted from breastfeeding moms far and wide...

(KemClaughlin) Kristin-I feel like a goddess when I am feeding my baby. I feel like I am fulfilling a divine purpose and sometimes when I am nursing the feeling is overwhelming and I want to cry.

(LKRA)Leslie-Never sick. Ever, ever, ever.

(Gruntlings)Sara-Knowing I'm not messing with what nature intends.

(precious333)Julia-I love how nursing calms the storm, for mommy and baby. As soon as my baby latches on there is a certain calmness, peace and rest that cannot be duplicated by anything else. All the worries tend to drift off as I enjoy the company of my little breastling.

(mama02040608)Kerri-Knowing even my "big boy" still needs momma!

(mom-loving-it)Margaret-I feel like Mother Earth. For 9 months I held this child to grow, I labored and held this baby from his beginning. I give him all I have-love, comfort, nourishment, sleep and a connection that will last a lifetime. I am a life-bearer and life-sustainer and I feel like I finally know what it truly means to be a woman.

(kyriesmommy13)Dana-Nursing forces me to relax, to sit down and hold or lay with my child. As Kyrie gets older, I find myself getting caught up in life's daily activities. Nursing time is our special time together, just the two of us. It allows me to give her my undivided attention, to reconnect and recharge throughout the day. It reinforces everything I believe in and that the choices I've made are what is right for us.
It allows me to appreciate the beauty of nature and being a mother. The one who can comfort, nourish and heal all! Breastfeeding-it is truly something! So beautifully simple and amazingly complex.

(griefsticken)Candace-The way baby Zaylei's eyes roll in the back of her head just as she latches on even though she just woke up and isn't tired. She's just satisfied.That I'm all she wants, that I make her happy and not some artificial object. The calm and contentment of my baby while nursing cannot be duplicated by ANYTHING!

Thank you to all the Cafemoms who contributed to this article!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Not About the Milk

You are supposed to breastfeed because breastmilk is the best food for your baby, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, breastmilk is the best food for babies, but it is not just about the milk. Bottle-feeding is a feeding method, breastfeeding is a relationship.

"Nursing is the biological norm for mothers and babies. It is a relationship that links the baby's immune system to the mother's, provides the baby with stimulation and connection while providing the mother with stress reducing hormones. It even feeds the baby." Author unknown.

So why are so many women now exclusively feeding pumped breastmilk? For some moms it is not a choice, but the only option because for whatever reason, breastfeeding did not work (baby with a weak suck or cleft palate, for example). But some women are proudly choosing to pump and bottle feed. Clearly these moms are doing what they feel is best for their babies, but I think that most of them do not know that they are not giving their baby (and themselves) all of the benefits of breastfeeding.

This mom says it well in Bottle vs. Breast, A Mother's Story

"If breastfeeding is considered just as a method of transferring milk into baby, then on the surface there does not seem to be that much difference."

There are some differences between the benefits of being bottle fed breastmilk and being breastfed directly.

For example, your milk has the highest level of antibodies when your baby takes it directly from your breast, and is second-best when it is freshly pumped. Your body actually responds to your baby’s saliva to make milk that is just right for him. If your baby is exposed to something that he needs antibodies for, this is how your body “learns” to make those antibodies for him. The longer it is stored, the more of these antibodies are deactivated. Freezing destroys even more antibodies. (Your frozen milk still provides excellent nutrition and protection for your baby, just not as good as directly from the breast or freshly pumped.)

When breastfeeding directly babies also benefit from appropriate jaw, teeth and speech development as well as overall facial development. The activity of breastfeeding helps exercise the facial muscles. This promotes the development of strong jaws and attractive facial structure. This means that people who were artificially fed may experience more trips to doctors and dentists. Several studies have shown breastfeeding to enhance speech development and speech clarity. Increasing duration of breastfeeding is associated with decreasing risk of later need for braces or other orthodontic treatment. One study showed that overbites (malocclusion) requiring orthodontia could be cut in half if infants were breastfed for one year.

Breastfeeding directly is also less time consuming (no parts to wash, no pumping time plus feeding time). When baby is hungry or needs to be comforted you simply put your baby to the breast. When exclusively bottle feeding breastmilk, you must attend to preparing a bottle first.

Skin on skin contact with your baby is an important part of their development. When you are breastfeeding you have to be in skin on skin contact with your baby. Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, make sure you spend some time in skin to skin contact with your baby.

Even when the baby is not actually nursing, skin-to-skin is helpful. Carry your baby a lot, skin to skin whenever possible. It increases mother's milk supply. It helps to "organize" the baby's behavior so that he learns to feed more easily. Babies who are held skin to skin and carried a lot cry less, save their calories for growing (they don’t waste them on crying), and it actually makes them grow better! It stabilizes breathing, heart rate, blood sugar, and temperature.

Finally, it is important to know that many moms who are exclusively pumping for their babies seems to have a harder time maintaining a full milk supply beyond 6 months of age.

It makes me sad that so many people in our culture view the breastfeeding breasts as "bottles of milk" that are just there to feed the baby. I wish more mothers could get to the point where they understand that it is not just about giving the baby milk, but a wonderful way to comfort and nurture and mother a child.

Breastfeeding is as much about the food as sex is about the sperm. Although it’s primarily designed for survival, it’s part of an intimate loving physical relationship- the template for all relationships in life. So for success, it involves persistence, commitment, giving beyond what seems reasonable- and provides rewards beyond what is given. -Nan Jolly, South Africa

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I Always Knew I Wanted to Breastfeed: My Adoptive Breastfeeding Journey

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my children. I couldn’t imagine doing it any differently. I was lucky enough to give birth to two beautiful boys and I enjoyed breastfeeding them both. Not that it was easy or without struggle, but it was what I wanted to do and loved doing it. In fact, I liked it so much, and felt so passionate about breastfeeding that I became a La Leche League Leader, so that I could help other breastfeeding moms. I really took to the idea of “Mothering through breastfeeding”. It wasn’t just a feeding method for me, but a relationship with my child.
My husband and I always talked about adopting a child who needed a family. We thought, if we can’t have kids of our own then we will adopt. Even if we can have kids of our own, maybe we will still adopt. After the birth of our second son it became clear that going through another pregnancy was not going to be good for me or our family. My doctor told me not to risk it, that my health was at stake. But we wanted another child. Well, here was our chance to adopt!

We chose to adopt a child out of foster care. We found an adoption agency that places foster children into adoptive homes. We went through all of the training, the homestudy, and all of the waiting. We were open to adopting one or two children (there are lots of sibling groups needing homes) between the ages of 0-5 years old. I knew that I really wanted to breastfeed another baby. I also knew that it was much more likely that we would get a toddler. There was also the issue of would it be okay to breastfeed a foster child? Would I just not tell anyone and do it anyway?

Either way I spent hours researching adoptive breastfeeding. I joined adoptive breastfeeding discussion boards like Ask Lenore and Four Friends. I read every book on the subject, including Breastfeeding an Adopted Baby and Relactation. I read the article Foster Breastfeeding over and over. I tracked down foster moms who had breastfed their foster babies in California (some successfully, and one who described a baby being taken from her home after the baby’s doctor “turned her in”).

On Monday July 6, 2009, we drove to South Lake Tahoe (about a 2 hour drive) to meet with a social worker. We were one of a few families they were considering placing a newborn girl with. We knew that the baby was a “safe surrender” baby, and that she was born premature. They had already asked if we would be able to go stay in Reno (where she was in the hospital) so that we could have daily visits with her in the NICU until she was ready to come home. It would be a few more weeks until she was ready.

We learned at that meeting that we had been chosen to bring her home if we wanted. Also, the hospital had just called and she was ready to go home! The social worker asked if we could go out to Reno, spend the night in the hospital with the baby, and take her home the next day. Of course we said yes (and I cried, a lot!).

At one point in the meeting the social worker looked at me and asked, “Are you going to breastfeed her?” For a moment I wondered if this was a trick question. My heart skipped a beat. But it wasn’t a trick. “We were so excited to see that you are a La Leche League Leader, and were hoping that you would plan to breastfeed her.” I knew this baby needed to be breastfed and I wasn’t going to have to do it “behind closed doors” as many fost/adopt moms told me they did.

I told them that I would if I was allowed. They couldn’t think of any reason why not, but decided that we would not talk about it any more, or put it in writing anywhere. You just never know how someone might react. People can be weird about breastfeeding.

In that meeting we also learned that this little baby was a bit of a miracle. All of the doctors and nurses at the hospital could not understand why she was alive and doing so well. She was born in a campground in the mountains above Lake Tahoe. Her birth mother did not know she was pregnant. In fact she did not know she was giving birth until she heard the baby cry. The birth mother was taken to a local hospital while the baby was flown to the NICU in Reno. To this day I don’t know if the birth mom ever saw the baby, or even knows if it is a boy or a girl. She gave very little information at the hospital when she surrendered the baby (I won’t get into the paperwork mess that her in one hospital and the baby in another at the time of surrender lead to). She said that she drank alcohol about every other week and smoked a half a pack of cigarettes a day. She told them she did no illegal drugs, however she tested positive for THC (as well as alcohol) at the hospital after the birth.

The baby weighed 3 lbs 2.8 ounces at birth. She was exposed and unreachable by rescuers for 30-45 minutes after the birth. (Even a full term newborn can quickly succumb to hypothermia right after birth, not to mention a 3 lb baby.) At first they expected she whould be in the NICU for about 2 months. She surprised everyone when she needed no help breathing and was quickly eating and gaining weight.
When we went to meet her at the hospital she was 17 days old. The NICU nurses were very nice. They had all “adopted” her temporarily. It was clear that she was a very special baby to all of them.

However, she was exclusively bottle-fed formula that whole time and I was wanting to breastfeed her. I was told by the NICU nurses to “just shove it in there” when I held the bottle nipple to her mouth, waiting for her to open like she would for the breast. I was shown the “right” way to hold her and give her the bottle, with her on my lap, away from my body. She was to be fed on a strict every 3 hours schedule. We were told to not hold her too much. “You can’t hold her so much like that when you get her home. You need to put her down so that she can sleep. She really needs to rest.” I smiled and nodded, knowing that we would be leaving in a matter of hours and that when we got home this baby would not get put down for the next several months.

The NICU doctor told us that we MUST keep her on the special 22 calories per ounce formula until she was 12 months old, no matter what her pediatrician said, no matter how well she was growing. Again I smiled and nodded, knowing full well I was going to do everything in my power to get her off of this formula. I had my own “special formula” in mind for her.

We gave her a name we had picked out for a baby girl years earlier. The next morning when we took her home she weighed 4 lbs. 0.8 ounces.

When we got home I called my LLL co-leader and she drove into town and up the mountain to my house to bring me a hospital grade, Medela Symphony breast pump and a Starter SNS. I needed to get started on bringing in a milk supply! I also went on-line and ordered a Lact-Aid, the at-breast supplementer of choice of adoptive moms. On-line I also ordered domperidone (a prescription that has the side effect of increasing prolactin levels, that is not available in the US) from a pharmacy in New Zealand.

I took my baby up to my room and lay back on the pillows on my bed. I took off my shirt and put her in only a diaper. I put her warm, tiny little body on my bare chest. She wasted no time. She threw herself down and latched onto my right breast. She started sucking and her body completely relaxed. She was home. She had found her mommy. Now, I just needed to make some milk!

The first few weeks I tried to put formula in the Starter SNS and then the Lact-Aid and feed her at the breast. She could latch on great, but her suck was weak and she could not get any of the formula through the tube. I went ahead and got a full sized SNS to try as, unlike the Lact-Aid, liquid would flow out just with gravity. I bottle fed, and then tried the SNS a couple of times a day. Eventually she could get an ounce from the SNS. Gradually I increased the number of feedings at the breast. Soon she could nurse with the Lact-Aid and get formula from that as well.

After about a month I did all of the daytime feedings with the Lact-Aid. I ordered more parts so that I only needed to wash and prepare the Lact-Aid supplies once a day. Soon I fed with the Lact-Aid around the clock and completely eliminated all bottles. I stopped pumping at this point, as she was nursing very frequently. I encouraged her to nurse for comfort, or for what little milk she could get between formula feedings.

She was such a good little nurser! She would nurse for a while on one breast, then let go and move to the other side. This is what breastfed babies will do naturally after finishing one breast, but I had to move the tube over to the other side so that she could keep eating. She would nurse and nurse for hours, even when she was getting very little milk. We would often take “nursing vacation” days when Papa took her big brothers out for the day. I carefully watched her weight gain to make sure I wasn’t being too stingy with the formula. I wanted to give her the smallest amount she needed so that she would nurse more and get more from me to help stimulate my supply.

Soon I was able to nurse her first thing in the morning and satisfy her. I would just keep nursing her until it became so frequent that it was clear she needed some formula.
I was so excited when I realized I could go from about 3am until 10 am without using formula. Then I could go until 11am, then 1pm, then 3pm! Before I knew it she would get formula at about 2 am and I didn’t need to give more until about 4 in the afternoon. I could go out of the house with her all morning and not need to bring bags of formula! I was exclusively breastfeeding for more than half the day! She soon gave up her pacifier that she came home from the hospital with. Once you have the real thing, no substitutes will do!

When it got to the point that she needed two, 2-4 ounce servings of formula in the evening I stopped using the Lact-Aid. If I had to fill one more bag or clean out the tubing one more time I was going to go crazy!! She was 5 months old when she was only breastfeeding with the exception of two bottles of formula in the evening, getting a total of 4-8 ounces per day. She would nurse both before and after the bottles of formula. I really wanted to breastfeed exclusively, but this was pretty darn good!

At 6 months old I started to offer her solid foods. She LOVED them! She was on WIC and they gave her an obscene amount of jars of fruits and vegetables and boxes of baby cereal. She gobbled it all up. Within a week we had dropped one serving of formula and the next week we dropped the last one. She was now EXCLUSIVELY BREASTFED! (Well, along with some solids, but close enough!) She never had a bottle again. In fact, the one time I left her at 9 months old for a few hours, she would have nothing to do with a bottle.

I thought that when she turned one year I would stop taking the domperidone. As I tried to wean off of it my supply really dropped. Baby got pretty frustrated. So, I did some more research and decided it was safe for me to continue to take the domperidone longer and ordered another 6 month supply. Making More Milk describes a study showing no adverse effects for people taking 120 mg/day for over 10 years, and although for a while I took as much as 160 mg/day, I am down to only 90 mg/day.
At 15 months old she is still going strong. I really enjoy nursing her to sleep at nap time and bedtime. I love cuddling in bed with her early in the morning and hearing her gulp down my milk. I can’t imagine stopping any time soon.

When I breastfed my boys my goal was to nurse them for at least two years, as this is the suggested minimum by the World Health Organization. I learned about so many benefits of breastfeeding well into toddlerhood, that I really wanted to do this. Sadly, I only nursed my boys 14 months each. We ended early for different reasons with each, but both times I was disappointed that I did not make my goal. I still feel like I let them down, even though I know that I did the best I could at the time with the given circumstances. I am hopeful that I can nurse my daughter at least 2 years, and as long as she wants. I got another chance.

For more information on breastfeeding your adopted baby go to: Breastfeed Your Adopted Baby

In February 2012 Cafemom sent out a crew to interview me about breastfeeding my adopted baby. The kids and I actually had lots of fun. The film crew was great and they really fought to get here. They needed to get new tires on their van to make it to our house due to the snow storm.