"Of course you can! Just hold your baby!" they told me, shoving my burrito-wrapped baby into my body as they wheeled me down the hall. As soon as we passed my mom, I begged her to take Miles before he slipped from my hands, because I assure you, I could not feel or control my arms.
Though groggy, I knew I had a small window of his quiet alert period as my best bet to begin nursing. It was hard watching that ticking clock and knowing I was just too incapacitated to take advantage of the opportunity. Nevertheless, I was bound and determined that I would breastfeed this baby!
I'm not sure how much time passed, but I eventually felt like I could, or at least would like to try to, nurse. I still didn't have great control of my arms, but asked the midwife if she would help me out. Best decision ever! Shannon helped me to open my hospital gown and she positioned my baby on my chest for me and, now that I think of it, she held my breast for me, too. I remember feeling my son's little mouth searching around, trying to figure out what was going on, and then giving a little suck-suck. What a magical moment! It overpowered the drugs and made me feel really proud of myself.
I tried again every few hours and as I got more sensation and awareness back, my son and I got better and better at breastfeeding.
By mid-morning, my milk had come in, I had full control of my arms, and I was on my way to getting good at nursing a baby. Some of the things that helped me nurse right after my surgery were:
- I was a total task-master about getting the lactation consultant in my room. I asked every time the nurses came to give me meds!
- I asked each shift of nurses to check whether I was breastfeeding well, whether my son was latched on, and whether I had the c-curve hand position down pat.
- The midwife told me about this amazing thing called side-lying nursing. Since sitting up, even with the support of the bed, was so painful, this ended up being a life-saver. Or at least a breastfeeding relationship saver! I learned to use 2 pillows and support my "down" arm along with my head to help my physical healing process and facilitate nursing.
- I had a pediatrician who totally supported breastfeeding. He watched my son nurse at each of his first few appointments.
- I went to a La Leche League meeting as soon as I was able and one of the leaders watched me nurse and gave me some tips.
Even with all this help, I had a bear of a time and still sometimes struggle. But I still love seeking nursing support!
What are some things that other moms did post-surgery to facilitate the breastfeeding relationship?