I wanted to share my relactation and re-latch story because I have talked to, read, and heard the stories of several mothers who have experienced one or several of the issues addressed here. According to studies, approximately 1 in 10 breastfeeding mothers struggle with an inadequate milk supply, which can mean harsh consequences for both the health of a baby and the emotional well-being of his or her mother. There are also so many mothers out there struggling to relactate and/or bring their babies back to the breast, or that don’t even know that they can, and I hope that my story can help them even if only for the solace in knowing that it CAN BE DONE!
When I was pregnant with my now 6-month-old son, I worried tremendously about everything-in particularly feeding him, because I have many health problems including but not limited to fibromyalgia, that inhibit my energy, and cause me a great deal of pain and weakness in my day-to-day life. How could I possibly breastfeed a child? The thought of waking every couple hours in the little sleep I managed outside of my pre-existing insomnia sounded impossible. I have always held highly the belief that the health of a baby begins with the mother, and so, fearing that I was unable to breastfeed my child made me fall into the depths of despair. The fact that my mother (now passed away) was a La Leche League Leader who had breastfed me for two and a half years did not help to ease the pressure and guilt I was feeling. I thought I would surely let her down.
To make matters worse, I gave birth to Osrid Olov in a hospital where I received, to word things kindly, substandard care. I managed to give him his first couple of feeds from the breast before I was frightened out of nursing by the poorly informed staff. It was lucky that I had that first experience of bonding with him, cradling him in my arms and feeling his warm, tiny, shaking body relax as it filled with nourishment for the first time, his head so close to my heart. I couldn’t imagine missing this love if I had never had it in my life.
After more negative experiences than I can count on my hands piled on in the care of this facility, that ranged from an (overstitched, at that) episiotomy performed against my will to my pleas for help to feed and change my crying baby through the night-still unable to stand from the epidural-that were ignored for several hours, they were topped off by the midwife who peeked her head inside the curtain and told me I was “not allowed” to breastfeed my baby and rushed me to decide between infant formulas I knew nothing about, without explaining to me what was happening or why things were the way they were. I was so shocked and upset when she returned and slapped a bottle of the ready-made F-word on my bedside table I didn’t know what to make of things.
It was my medications (apparently) that were the problem. I have to take several medications for a number of things, such as my fibromyalgia and migraines, which I cannot function let alone fathom taking on the care of another human life without. One of them was “counter-indicated” which meant, according to the midwife, that I would be putting my son in danger if I continued to nurse him while taking them. What would I do? In defeat, I screwed on the plastic cap to the glass formula bottle and cried as I fed Osrid from this fake, cold breast.