By Michelle Hodges
I knew I wanted to breastfeed long before I became pregnant. However, I would be the first woman in my family to breastfeed for many generations, so I knew I had a lot to learn.
I had the opportunity to watch my best friend successfully breastfeed her daughter to a year old and beyond. I researched breastfeeding on the Internet, and I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I even attended Rush’s breastfeeding class while I was pregnant.
My daughter was born happy and healthy, but early. Delivered at just 36 weeks, she was considered preterm, a word I’d never heard before. It was not unusual in my family for babies to come early. All four of my sister’s kids were born two to five weeks early.
My preterm baby had a healthy appetite, but a shallow latch due to her size and early gestation. She gained weight slowly at first, which was very frightening to me as a new mom who was new to breastfeeding as well.
My baby girl was born on a Tuesday, and I brought her to the first breastfeeding support group meeting the following Monday. I can count on one hand how many meetings I missed while I was off work for three months. I still attend anytime I have a Monday off.
‘Teary-eyed and terrified’
That first day, I was tired, teary-eyed and terrified that my baby wasn’t gaining weight fast enough. Nicole Albold, RN, a Rush lactation consultant, explained that a preterm newborn may have breastfeeding challenges, and she evaluated and advised about my daughter’s latch.
She explained that because the issue was not with my supply, but my daughter’s ability to remove milk. Supplementing didn’t have to mean formula. Nicole told me it would get better, that my baby would get bigger, and her latch would improve.
Six months later, I’m glad to say Nicole was right. I met my minimum goal of breastfeeding for six months and am now looking towards one year and beyond.
I have been blessed with a truly supportive significant other. He has been as involved in the breastfeeding journey as a dad can be. My best friend was there as my example that it could be done by a mom working full time. But if not for the breastfeeding support group at Rush, I’m not sure we would have made it this far.
When it came to breastfeeding, I couldn’t ask anyone in my family for guidance. Instead I came to rely on the breastfeeding support group at Rush, and Nicole, to get me through my breastfeeding adventure. I am truly grateful.
The Mother Baby Unit Breastfeeding Support Group at Rush meets on Mondays from 1:30 to 2;30 p.m. in room 880 of the Atrium building at 1653 W. Harrison St. Discounted parking is available. For more information about the group, or to reach Rush Lactation Support Services, call (312) 942-4803.