My breastfeeding journey started back in 2000. When I found out I was pregnant the one thing I was certain about was how I wanted to feed my child. When I was in college, I had a friend who was married and had a daughter. She breastfed her daughter until she was one. She was my influencer. I took a breastfeeding class. It gave me some benefits of breastfeeding and different positions. I recommend all first time mothers and those breastfeeding for the first time take a breastfeeding class. It is beneficial and will help each member of the family with questions, concerns and dispel any myths. There are some free classes available through WIC and a small fee is charged at the hospitals. Some insurance carriers may cover the cost.
In the hospital I was able to breastfeed with the help of the lactation consultant. My mother, sister and aunt were my support system. I experienced sore nipples, a yeast infection and a very fussy, but healthy baby. My daughter ate every 1- 2 hours the first few months, then every 3-4 hours. There was no way I could work because she would not take a bottle. My ex-husband helped out when he could, but it took a while for him to fully understand what I was going through as no one in his family breastfed or was really supportive. My first daughter was breastfed until she was a year old.
In 2002, I applied for a position as a Nutritional Program Assistant. I was pregnant with my son. I got the job and started training. I learned so much more about breastfeeding and benefits. My son, unlike my daughter, would take a bottle. There would be times he ran out of milk and I either had to pump in between clients or go nurse him. There were times my milk supply was low, now this was a different challenge. I knew about fenugreek and I had to nurse more. I also experienced mastitis. I knew exactly how to resolve the issue on my own and with some antibiotics. If a mother experiences any difficulties or changes in breasts or with breastfeeding, I recommend she seek an experienced breastfeeding expert for instance a lactation consultant or breastfeeding counselor. There are two sites I recommend for some advice and guidance: ibconline.ca and askdrsears.com. Unfortunately, I had to quit my job. At the time I was working at the Agriculture Center and they were not a smoke free facility although others were. My son kept getting ear infections. As expected my milk was showing traces of nicotine. Quitting did not stop me from helping other moms with breastfeeding. My son breastfed until he was a year old, same as his older sister without any more ear infections.
In 2005, I had my 3rd child, but he was different then the first two. He would not immediately breastfeed. I was having difficulty with him latching and staying on. Thankfully, I was an experienced breastfeeding mama by that point and now a certified breastfeeding consultant because I may have given up. Although things started off rough; he was breastfed for three years. When my son was a year old I was hired at the Pitt County Health Department as one of their breastfeeding peer counselors.
As you can see your breastfeeding experience will be different with each child and there may be some challenges but the bond and nourishment outweighed all the difficulties for me. Most importantly, everyone needs a good support system whether it’s family, breastfeeding peer counselors, lactation consultants or other breastfeeding mothers and support groups. This leads me to my position at the Rowan County Health Department where I became a breastfeeding peer counselor, started a breastfeeding support group and assisted the Novant Health Medical Center with becoming “Baby Friendly”. A summary of what a “baby friendly” hospital looks like is when a hospital is held to the highest standards for mother/baby care practices that relate to infant feeding. (Protect, Promote & Support Breastfeeding)
Yolanda Butler is a mother of 3 from Philadelphia, PA. She’s been residing in NC since 1995 where she attended Bennett College to pursue her B.A. degree in Political Science.
Join Women AdvaNCe for Black Breastfeeding Week, August 25-31.