One mom's journey: National Breastfeeding Month

  • Published
  • By Emily Posadas
  • Health Promotions Flight, 52nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron

When I found out I was going to be a mother, I was overcome with several different emotions— joy, excitement, and fear – to name a few.

Still, I immediately knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby once he was born.  Having a background in public health, I was aware that breastfeeding my son would provide him with tailor-made nutrition and disease-fighting substances that would help keep him healthy.

I wanted to breastfeed not only because of all the health benefits associated with mother’s milk, but also because I knew that I would crave the closeness and bonding that goes along with breastfeeding an infant.

However, I also prepared myself for the possibility that I would not be successful at breastfeeding, since there are challenges that can make nursing difficult for both mom and baby.

In the end, I learned that the key is not to give up when breastfeeding becomes difficult. Instead, seek help from a trained, lactation consultant.

Since August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I thought that I would share my journey in hopes that it will help others understand potential breastfeeding challenges and the resources available to overcome those challenges.

Soon after my son was born, I was able to try to nurse him at the German hospital where I delivered. Unfortunately, the first try was not successful. My baby was unable to latch well, and he kept drifting into a deep sleep while I was trying to feed him.

After a few hours of unsuccessful nursing attempts, a Kinderkrankenschwester, or pediatric nurse, came along and showed me a few different techniques to help promote breastfeeding. Those techniques did not work immediately - although I was able to use them in the coming days and weeks to successfully breastfeed. 

A few hours passed after my son’s birth, and he still had not fed. My husband and I were becoming increasingly concerned, and finally, the pediatric nurse brought in a small, plastic little wonder, known as a nipple shield, a device that is designed to help babies latch onto their mothers’ breasts.

She showed me how to use it properly, and we tried latching my 4-hour-old son onto it. It worked. Not only was he able to latch, but he also kept nursing after falling asleep, which is something he still does now, at 13-months old. 

Even though my son was finally nursing, at first, he wasn’t drinking actual milk. He was drinking a nourishing substance called colostrum. Interestingly, a mother’s body does not produce mature milk immediately. It can take between three and four days after giving birth for a mother’s milk to come in.

At first, mothers produce colostrum, often referred to as “liquid gold” due to its yellow color. Colostrum is a substance that provides babies with all of the nutrition and antibodies that they need to sustain them in their first few days of life. When mothers breastfeed their babies soon after birth, and often, usually 10-12 times in a 24-hour period, the frequent feedings will usually stimulate the production of a bountiful milk supply.

This was the case for me, but my breastfeeding journey did not end at the hospital. As a first-time mom, I had a lot to learn and a long way to go. Luckily, as part of its New Parent Support Program, Spangdahlem Family Advocacy had a certified lactation counselor on staff who met with me once I returned home from the hospital.

She gave me advice on how to hold my baby for an even better latch and offered other techniques that I could use in order to make breastfeeding an even more enjoyable experience. She also provided me with tips on expressing breastmilk once I went back to work and information on properly storing expressed milk, so my son could continue to receive the benefits of my milk while at daycare. 

Being a working, nursing mom is difficult but not impossible. If breastfeeding is something that a mother feels strongly about, she can absolutely continue to provide her child with breastmilk while working full time.

With all of the education and resources I came across in that first month after my son was born, I was able to ensure that he was exclusively breastfed for the first six months of his life. I have also been able to supplement his solid foods with breastmilk, and we are still going strong.

If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding, please contact Judith Allen, Spangdahlem Family Advocacy nurse and certified lactation educator at DSN 452-8279, or commercially at 06565-61-8279. You can also contact Tech. Sgt. Alaina Kolesnik, certified lactation counselor, Spangdahlem Medical Clinic, pediatrics, at DSN 452-3377. 

Additionally, Kolesnik will hold a breastfeeding class at 2 p.m. Aug. 25, 2016, in the Spangdahlem Medical Clinic’s first-floor conference room, near the Pediatric Clinic. If you are 32-weeks pregnant or further along, please contact Kolesnik regarding the breastfeeding class.