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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Birth Experiences and Its Effect on Breastfeeding

Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding for October. This month's topic is about birth and breastfeeding - on how your birth experience affected your breastfeeding relationship with your child. Please scroll down to read the entries of the other carnival participants.

breastfeeding cousins
Picture this:
Mom A gave birth to a full-term baby girl through normal delivery with epidural. Baby Girl A is 6 pounds, 5 ounces and healthy. She was whisked off for about 10 minutes to be checked, weighed and wiped down. Baby Girl A was returned to Mom A's arms and she was able latch within 1 hour from birth, roomed-in and constantly experienced skin-to-skin contact.
Mom B gave birth to a premature baby girl through normal delivery with epidural. Baby Girl B is 4 pounds, 4 ounces and born at 32 weeks, 6 days old. She was whisked off by the neonatologist and placed in the NICU. She was never roomed in and separated from her parents for 2 weeks. Mom B visited her at the NICU for breastfeeding opportunities but only after 1 week. Prior to that she was fed with glucose water intravenously as neonatologist thought that she would choke on colostrum.
One month later…
Baby Girl A is now being mixed fed. At 2 weeks, she was diagnosed with jaundice and pediatrician recommended that she be given formula for at least 24 hours. Since then, Mom A started having supply problems. Mom A was able to recover and up her supply only when Baby Girl A was 7 weeks. Earlier on, Mom A also experienced sore and bleeding nipples due to improper latch.
Baby Girl B is still exclusively breastfed. After having latched at 2 weeks, she was nursing like a champ. Mom B never experienced sore nipples. Mom B also had supply problems but received breastmilk from relatives and friends. Baby Girl B is exclusively on breastmilk and has never tasted formula.
At 6 months…
Baby Girl A is back to being on exclusive breastmilk and has started solids. Mom A is back to work and has sustained milk supply to be able to meet Baby Girl A’s needs and donate extra milk.
Baby Girl B is still on exclusive breastmilk and has started solids. Mom B is back to work, still has milk supply issues but managed to meet Baby Girl B’s needs.
I think by now you may have guessed that I’m talking about me and my sister’s birth experience. I have previously shared about my experiences and my niece’s birthing story. However, for this carnival, I’d like to emphasize that whatever the birthing experience of the mom, there are other more important factors that will impact the breastfeeding relationship.
Top most of these important factors would be INFORMATION. When my daughter’s pediatrician suggested that I give her formula for jaundice, I didn’t know better. I never attempted to find a breastfeeding friendly pediatrician (I assumed that all were BF advocates) and thus get a second opinion.
Meanwhile, my sister immediately switched to breastfeeding friendly pediatrician when my niece turned 1 month. Their old pediatrician had mandated a 1 kilogram weight gain each month. My niece gained about 800 grams per month which was okay with the new pediatrician. The new pediatrician understood that babies grew in different ways and watched the developmental milestones instead of the weighing scale. Had they stayed with the old pediatrician, my niece would’ve been prescribed formula to up her weight.
Why did we make the choices we make? I didn’t know better and was ignorant of available resources. Meanwhile, my sister already learned from my experiences and was also able to read breastfeeding books and research on breastfeeding friendly pediatricians.
Another factor is SUPPORT.
When I gave birth, I only had my husband, Stan with me. Although there were lactation consultants that we visited, we didn’t really get relevant and helpful information. One LC even gave us free Enfamil 2oz. bottles! Meanwhile, when my sister gave birth, she already had a knowledgeable nanny, my mom turned advocate and of course, persistent sister with breastfeeding experience (although I have to admit that it was more difficult to counsel my sister compared to strangers and friends). Plus, my sister had a network of friends and relatives to turn to when her milk supply was low. She also had a very supportive doctor who worked with her and encouraged her to continue giving breastmilk to her daughter.
Let me conclude by saying that the birthing experience can have a ripple but not lasting effect on your breastfeeding relationship with your child. However, in the long run, other factors such as information and support are more effective in enabling mom and baby to bond at the breast and establishing a successful and enduring breastfeeding relationship.
Here are the other carnival participants. Links will be added through the end of the day:
Crib Keeper @ Tales from the Crib: On Not Being Discouraged
Suchada @ Mama Eve: Birth and Breastfeeding
Christina @ Massachusetts Friends of Midwives: Early Intervention Lactation Help
Jenny @ Chronicles of a Nursing mom: Birth Experiences and Its Effect on Breastfeeding
Michelle @ Mama Bear: Long, wide shadow of bad births
Sarah @ Reproductive Rites: Fighting for Breastfeeding
Tanya @ Motherwear Blog: The Birth/Breastfeeding Continuum
Andi @ Mama Knows Breast:


Mama Eve said...

I completely agree that information is so empowering with breastfeeding. Knowledge is even more so. How wonderful you were able to share your experience with your sister and she could do so well, even with so many difficulties. Kudos to you both!

Unknown said...

Who's hosting this carnival?

Anonymous said...

This is a great point of view, and so useful to be able to compare similar experiences between sisters. It's so true that despite the kind of birth you have, a successful breastfeeding relationship can be created. Anything can be overcome with determination, support and good advice/information. And I really liked how you said your birth can have a ripple effect on breastfeeding, but not necessarily a lasting effect. So true.

I have a little sister too and I hope that she is able to benefit and learn from my experiences.

Alex said...

This is great!!! Birth experience has a big effect! But after the birth there's even more to be done. Thanks for sharing!!!

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