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Benefits abound, but doctors fail to tell you how hard it is to breast-feed

July 30, 1998|By Sonja Hoover

I recently returned to work from maternity leave after having my second son.

I breast-fed my first son, Quinn, for nine months and now am breast-feeding my second son, Levi.

There are a lot of benefits from breast-feeding, but doctors fail to tell you during your lovely nine months of pregnancy how hard it is to breast-feed. And what better time to talk about this than World Breast-feeding Week, which started yesterday and continues through Aug. 7?

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> First of all, it doesn't come naturally.

I didn't take a breast-feeding class, thinking it would come naturally.

I didn't know that you have to teach your baby how to take to the breast.

If it weren't for the encouragement I received from Tom, my husband - both times - I probably would have quit. He would help calm me.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> No two children eat the same.

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I didn't know this either. Quinn took to breast-feeding pretty fast. He would eat off both sides for 10 minutes each.

Levi had a hard time latching on and made it very painful for me for about a week and half. He would only eat off of one side for 10 minutes total. This scared me because I thought he wasn't getting enough milk.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> It's hard to express your milk.

I used a breast pump to start building my supply while I was on maternity leave.

It takes a day of pumping sessions just to get enough for one feeding. Thank goodness I made the supply in advance because there are days when I'm at work that I can only get enough for one or two feedings. Levi eats two to three times at day care. It can be very stressing, but you aren't supposed to get stressed about it. Yeah, right. This stuff is like gold.

I've been back to work about seven weeks now, and Levi has suddenly decided that he doesn't want the bottle while I'm at work. How's a working mother suppose to handle this? Quinn never cared where his food came from as long as he got food.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> But the benefits do outweigh the negatives.

It still amazes me that I can nourish my children from my body. When you are feeding after a stressful day at work, your baby makes all the stress go away when he looks up and smiles. That quality time means the world to me.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> As a nursing mother, you get to take in extra calories - I love this part.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> You don't have to carry bottles - the milk is always warm and ready, except when they are at day care. My day-care mom has been wonderful, too. Levi is the first baby she has given breast milk to. It eases my mind while I'm at work knowing she cares enough about him to do this.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Breast-fed babies normally don't get as sick as formula-fed babies. Quinn is 4 years old now and rarely has been sick.

My goal is to feed Levi as long as I did Quinn.

If I didn't try, I would feel guilty. If I can't or he decides to quit, at least he got the best I can offer.

My advice to new mothers is to hang in there when you feel like giving up.

Don't be afraid to lean on your partner, a friend or a relative for help. That's what they are there for. Remember, babies can feel your stress and tension. I know it's hard to stay calm sometimes; I'm hyper myself.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> Get a nursing pillow; they're great.

If you decide to express, use a Walkman with your favorite music while you are pumping. It will help you forget about work for those few minutes. Don't forget to drink plenty of water. Nursing mothers need to drink 10 glasses a day.

Also, just enjoy quiet moments with your baby. They grow too fast.

I thank God for my husband and our two beautiful boys. I have been blessed.

Sonja Hoover is an editorial assistant for The Herald-Mail.

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