Doulas of Capitol Hill’s tagline is ‘Let’s Tell Your Story’. Every new parent starts a new chapter in their lives. These stories are memories that are a part of a family’s legacy, and we believe they contribute to the community conversation. We want to give voice to our clients to share their story. In the first of this ongoing series, in honor of National Breastfeeding Week, here is the story from Elisa and baby Orion about their breastfeeding journey. 

We've all heard "breast is best," but what they do not say is that breastfeeding is HARD WORK. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and commitment! Something that has really stuck with me is this idea that ‘your baby has never had to work for his food before’. It takes time to become a skilled nursing pair!

doulas of capitol hill client

My son Orion was born early (36 weeks 3 days) via a cesarean birth because he was breech. This unexpected early arrival totally took us by surprise! Immediately upon being wheeled into recovery, Orion laid on my belly and was placed on my breast. He latched right away and our journey began. I was surprised at how natural it felt to feed my baby this way. I thought “this is going to be easy!”

Boy was I wrong.

Those first few days in the hospital were rough. Orion was too little and too sleepy to nurse effectively, my milk took a few days to come in, and he just could not keep his blood sugar up in the numbers the nurses and doctors wanted to see. Although it made me sad, we had to supplement with formula right away to kick start his growth in the right direction.

I got to know the breast pump very well. After every feeding, I would pump to get my supply up and Orion would have a little formula supplement. The one great advantage of this was that his Dad could give him a bottle and he really enjoyed this bonding time.

We continued this regiment at home until his second weight check at the doctor. We were encouraged to breastfeed on each side, burp him, change him, and put him back on the breast again instead of giving him the additional supplement. By the third weight check he was doing great! We could finally stop supplementing and nurse on demand!

I wish I could say it was smooth sailing after that, but the early days of parenthood are exhausting, overwhelming, and intense.

 Orion was doing well with his weight, but he nursed every two hours even through the night. I had to help Orion latch on, be in just the right position, take off layers to keep him awake, and sometimes it just plain hurt to nurse!

 I began to feel like I was just a pair of breasts and anytime I was near him, he began rooting. I was milk and that's all that mattered.

 Every now and then I would pump just to give myself a break (or a nap or a shower!) Finally, at about two months, we turned a corner. Maybe it was all the practice, or Orion getting older, or the fact that he started to go a little bit longer in between feedings - but I finally felt like nursing was working for us. Around this time, Orion began to smile at me and really give something back. It was wonderful to feel like your baby actually likes you and you're not just a pair of breasts!!!

I went back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave and was worried about the transition. It turned out great. My work gave me a key to a special single executive bathroom and that's where I pump twice a day. I am so lucky that Orion's daycare is really close to work, so I am able to go visit at lunch time and nurse him every workday. This helps keep my supply up and gives us a chance to reconnect.

Fast forward to now, Orion is eight months old. Nursing him is such a blessing! I would not trade it for the world. What I love most is the chance to stop everything and just be with him. The snuggle time, the closeness, and the love I feel between us makes it all worth it...even in the middle of the night. ;) 

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