I'm what they call a first generation breastfeeder. My mom breastfed me for six weeks. It was the early 1970s and due to financial pressures, she had to go back to work and didn't have access to a breast pump.
I always intended to breastfeed my children and when I was pregnant with my first child, Benjamin, in 2005, my mother was very supportive of my decision to breastfeed. Luckily, I was fortunate enough be able to stay home with him. I knew that breastfeeding was the best thing I could do for my child... but things didn't work out as I planned.
When Ben was born, I was surprised by the issues I faced with breastfeeding. I wasn't able to get a good latch and had poor supply issues and kept getting more frustrated and felt like a failure. My mother and my mother-in-law (who had breastfeed all three of her children) and my husband were supportive but I remember hiding in my bathroom, using a formula sample to make a bottle, shaking because I was so upset I couldn't make enough milk. Help arrived when my girlfriend Melissa gave me her pump. Using the pump increased my supply so that I was able to feed my son expressed breast milk. We did get into a rhythm finally, I would nurse as much as I could, pump and supplement. When Ben was 4 months old, he refused to nurse anymore. I wasn't able to pump much milk and soon I was exclusively formula feeding.
Now I know I should have gotten myself to a Lactation Consultant, but at the time I didn't know how or where to find one. I've since learned that Ben has low muscle tone, which may have contributed to why he couldn't suck as well as he should have. I still look back at our breastfeeding experience with regret.
My second child, Allegra, was born in 2007. My mantra was, I have to do better with this child.This time things went much better. I still had latch and supply issues, but I was determined to get it right. I saw a lactation consultant in the hospital and had a lactation consultant visit when we returned home. After working with me and watching me nurse my daughter, the wonderful lactation consultant gave me a nipple shield and taught me how to use it properly. I still suffered from a low supply, but it was better than with Ben and after a while, I was able to nurse my daughter without the nipple shield. I loved the closeness it brought us. It was working for us - even though I still had to supplement a little bit ( it was much less than with Ben). When Allegra was 7 months old, we both got summer colds - my eardrums popped and her sinuses made her cheek swell up horribly. We both went on antibiotics and I wasn't allowed to nurse her. I didn't know I should have found an antibiotic that would have let me continue nursing. After we were well, she was no longer interested in nursing. I ended up pumping for a while, until my supply dwindled and finally stopped. While Allegra and I had more success, I still feel that it could have been better.
Fast forward to late December 2009, when I found out I was pregnant for the third time. Here was my chance to get breastfeeding right!