So now I got this! After Peanut I was feeling like a breastfeeding pro. Breastfeeding is a very important part of my mothering identity. This is how I fix my babies bumps and bruises, this is how I put my babies to sleep. I felt confident so confident when I was pregnant with baby 3 I barely gave it a thought outside of my excitement at getting to nurse again.
Then, we got Froggie’s diagnosis. At 4 1/2 months pregnant we found out Froggie would have Down syndrome (Ds). You can read his diagnosis story HERE. While researching what this meant to our family I discovered that babies with Ds can’t nurse. Well, that was what it seemed like from everything I was reading. Once we knew he would be healthy this idea, that I would not be nursing, overwhelmed me. How would I parent this child?
Luckily I kept reading! I learned that many babies with Ds can’t nurse because of low tone in their mouths and for other health related reasons. More importantly I learned that some babies with Ds DO nurse! So I went to work learning everything I could about nursing a baby with Ds. I came across a specific hold called “Dancer Hold”. This hold can help a baby latch who has low tone. I printed out a pdf about this hold and packed it for the hospital. You can see it HERE. I also called and spoke with the lactation consultant on staff at the hospital and spoke several times with a lactation consultant in private practice. I spoke with LLL leaders and friends. I was so scared he would not nurse.
When Froggie was born and we were wheeled into recovery after my C-section I immediately tried to latch him. He LATCHED! I was so incredibly overjoyed. I knew his latch was not great and we were going to have to work at it but he did latch.
Over the next 24 hours several nurses asked me if I was ready for a pump and bottles for the baby. I ended up getting very frustrated with them and sent my husband to tell them to leave me alone. We would be nursing. The lactation consultant came in and I asked her if she was familiar with the Dancer Hold. She said she was not so I gave her the pdf and asked her to learn about it and come back. To her credit, she did! I was a bit pushy about anything having to do with nursing. Well, I was a bit pushy with anything having to do with Froggie.
It took us about 24 hours for him to get it and start nursing well. About 26 hours after birth he started pooping and peeing like he was supposed to. Every medical person that came into my room seemed so surprised he was nursing.
My 2nd night a more experienced nurse was on duty and she came into my room about 3:00 am. I was up nursing. She commented how well we seemed to be doing. She was a bit older than the other nurses and I told her my experience with the nurses. I told her how surprised I was that they kept pushing bottles. She told me that the problem was that they “knew babies with Ds don’t nurse”.
Many babies with Ds do nurse! It is a bit harder and takes a bit of work. It is also true that many babies with Ds simply can not nurse because of different medical conditions they are born with. We are lucky.
Today at 19 months old we are still going strong. Since I believe in child led weaning he will probably nurse for quite awhile, and I am fine with that!