Well...my support came in so many forms. My grandmother had 13 children and nursed them all until they weaned. My mother was one of seven sisters, and they all nursed their children. I grew up within a five mile radius of most of my 40 cousins, and saw each of my younger cousins at their mothers' breasts.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I think that I may have been accosted by my mother and aunts had I chosen NOT to breastfeed. But that thought never EVER crossed my mind. I would be a breastfeeding mother.
I read. I read every book published about breastfeeding. When I met my husband, right around the time we got engaged, I came across a family owned book store that was going out of business. They had a BUNCH of wonderful natural family living books for sale. One of them was The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I would never actually recommend it to a new mother because it is just so fulllll of information...if you're looking at it at two in the morning trying to figure out why you have bloody nipples you might just give up. BUT it was just so FULL of wonderful information that I could soak up like a sponge when I had all that extra time (read: before I had kids!
). I learned that, had I NOT been considering a natural birth beforehand, I wouldn't do it any other way, because doing so made it easier to establish a strong breastfeeding relationship.
Then I found all the rest of the great books out there, the ones I WOULD seek out at 2am with issues and a screaming baby if I had to: The Nursing Mother's Companion and The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers were at the top of my list of favorites.
I sought out a midwife. My husband was from a medical family, so with my first I KNEW that it would be easier all around if we birthed in the hospital. The midwife I found I loved. We had a pretty darned good pregnancy. To make sure that I got that birth that I wanted, I read all I could, I took a hypnobirthing class, and I planned and practiced for a relaxed birth in active poses. I planned to have my mother and sister present along with my husband for support. It all went as planned. She was born to my chest, latched on, and nursed like a champ. She stayed there for two hours, until she latched herself off.
Even when my milk came in and my DD pregnancy sized breasts turned into GGG post partum breasts, and I had an oversupply and overactive letdown...she nursed like a champ. Nary a blister, bruise, or crack in site. She LOVED to nurse and nursed constantly. She loved to be held, hated to be put down, and only slept if she was in contact with me. I was home, so I happily obliged. She nursed like a little vaccuum cleaner. Every twenty minutes for ten minutes at the most. Efficient, happy, content...as long as her needs were met.
Three weeks in, she started projectile vomiting when she nursed. She wanted to nurse constantly, but cried constantly, too. Her poor skin broke out in a horrible red crusty rash. I called the pediatrician at just after dinner time when she threw up worse than she had up to that point...it seemed like MORE than she had eaten! The doctor wasn't as concerned as I was and said it sounded like protein allergies to food that was passing through my milk. She asked me what I had had for dinner. I had had lasagna. She laughed and said that that was the top five allergens easily, all in one meal! She had breastfed her kids, too, and rather than suggesting that I quit breastfeeding (good for her! I would have left the practice that minute if she had!), she suggested that I go on a total elimination diet for a minimum of two weeks and then reintroduce the most likely to offend foods to see what it was she was reacting to. It worked like a charm. Within a handful of days of reintroducing foods, I figured out that she is allergic to milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, cherries, and chocolate.
When she was nine months old, I got pregnant with my son. I had had one cycle. We nursed through most of the pregnancy, but she weaned (I now think it was probably a nursing strike, but didn't think about it when it happened) when she was almost 15 mos old. I had hit my third trimester, my mom taught her how to drink her rice milk out of her cereal bowl (the girl whou would NEVER take a bottle started drinking out of a CUP!), and we moved to a new house. I think there was just too much change.
My son...we planned a homebirth. The midwife didn't believe I was in active labor. Because I was a hypnobirther, I was being very calm during and between contractions. She my home, we left for the hospital, and my son was born an hour and a half after she left my house because I "wasn't in labor." Unfortunately, my son was born to my chest but not left there. 45 mintues later I had to remove the nurse-midwife's hands from the needle (I had torn, he was born very quickly without pushing), and threaten to get up from the bed and get him myself before they brought him to me.
He nursed for a good while, too, but I think that the damage was done. He had a poor latch for the next six weeks and gave me a blister within the first 24 hours. He was very different from his sister, too. He, too was MORE than content to be away from me. He was a slow-poke when it came to nursing. It would often take him more than an hour to finish up. Whereas I had been able to sit down for a quickie with his sister before we left for church so she'd be okay for the ride over, if we sat down before we left the house with HIM, we'd miss church by the time he was done!
When he was three days old, we were readmitted to the hospital because he had jaundice, his numbers were higher than the docs were comfortable with, and still climbing. When we got to the unit his bili levels were 23. We sat and nursed, and then he got down under the lights for three hours. THen he started his nightly blockfeed. I had to literally call the doc in at 2 in the morning to fight off the nurses and tell them that his numbers were falling (now 17!) and that he NEEDED to breastfeed to get the bilirubin to go down faster. *sigh*
When he was ten days old I hemorraged. I was rushed to the hospital, given an emergency D&C, and nursed him pre and post op (the doc was wonderful and made sure that the baby was brought to me as SOON as I was wheeled into recovery). I chose not to stay for a transfusion, because they told me he wouldn't be allowed to stay the night with me to nurse. I went home and went to bed...and stayed there for several weeks.
When my son was six months old, his father was found to have a tumor in his abdomen. The docs thought they were opening him up just to tell me how much time I had with him. In the end, they removed a 12 pound tumor. My husband was in the hospital for four weeks. During half of that time, the baby was allowed in the room with us, but the second half, when my husband was on a post op unit, the baby was not allowed with us. Luckily we had a HUGE support system, many of whom were happy to sit with the baby in the waiting room (and luckily, he was VERY different than his sister was as an infant and would LET me leave him with friends for an hour at a time) for an hour, and then I would come out and offer to nurse, and play with him for forty minutes or so, and then go back in. He would also take a bottle, which helped, as at bed time I would nurse him, and then my mom would take him home and put him to bed...when he woke up she would give him a bottle, and give me a few more hours with my husband before I had to go home.
He also showed allergies to proteins in my milk and I payed very close attention to my diet to figure otu what they were. Milk, eggs, soy, wheat, pea and tree nuts, berries...and the list goes on.
My son, who LOVED to nurse, who has always been a very happy, content child, who took his own sweet time to nurse...but who didn't really care if I held him or not in between...who was happy to look around and be involved in whatever was going on...nursed until he was 4.5. His sweet, sweaty hands and his big HUGE blue eyes looking up at me will stay in my memory forever.
My husband did everything in his power to make absolutely sure that whatever I needed and whenever I needed it, I got it (without asking he would get me water, make me dinner, bring me snacks, do laundry, whatever I needed)...because I was doing what he couldn't...I was nourishing his children with the most perfect food they could possibly get. He defended me against his family when they gave us a hard time about the length of time we nursed, the frequency of nursing...
We had a wonderful support system, and were very blessed to have the nursing stories that we had.