Breastfeeding Journey: Larissa Leigh
To help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2017, we wanted to take some time to appreciate different types of breastfeeding journeys! Today, we bring you Larissa’s story of staying positive during her initial struggles and the resources she used to help her with her journey.
Did you breastfeed? If so, how long did you breastfeed for?
I’m still currently breastfeeding. I have been nursing my two-year-old since the day she was born. I do not have any plans to wean at this time since she is still happily nursing!
What, if any, misconceptions of breastfeeding did you encounter?
When I was pregnant with Grace, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I assumed that the desire alone would make it happen, however I was surprised when I realized it does take hard work and dedication. I expected it to be something that came naturally, and while I did want to breastfeed Grace, I didn’t know how long it would take for us to get our nursing relationship going. I worked closely with a lactation consultant while my daughter was still at the hospital and I owe it all to her! Breastfeeding was and still is absolutely glorious for us, and I wouldn’t change anything about our journey!
Did you have any complications or challenges on your breastfeeding journey?
My baby was in the NICU for a bit after birth. So while I expected to start nursing from the beginning, she had to be separated from me for several hours each day. I was able to go visit her and nurse her during the day, but sometimes before and after tests, they’d have to give her bottles of expressed milk. Nipple confusion was a huge concern for me, especially since I was so adamant about breastfeeding my baby. There were definitely a few tears and frustrating moments along the way though. I just really had to work at it, but that’s okay, because it was completely worth it!
Were there any specific items or resources that helped you through your challenges or that facilitated breastfeeding?
Yes, I loved my lactation consultant at the hospital. She was patient, gentle, encouraging, and understanding. She talked with me, cried with me, and celebrated when we got my baby to latch regularly after being in the intensive care unit. I also really liked the La Leche League forums for the first few months of breastfeeding, and I did read a book about it, which was so helpful. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a wonderful resource, and I’d highly recommend it to any new or expecting parent who wants to nurse.
What’s one tip you would give a first-time parent who is trying to breastfeed?
Honestly, I have several tips! My first tip is to keep at it. The first few months are rough. It’s common to get frustrated,have sore nipples, and you might worry your baby isn’t getting enough. Try to remember to trust your body, trust your instincts, and stay motivated! Also, be sure to eat enough. I loved making and freezing lactation cookies for mid-morning or late-night nursing session snacks. There may be moments when your nipples are raw and you want to quite. Get a nipple soothing cream and some nursing pads! Nourishing a human with our bodies is what we are made to do! Keep up the great work! I also have advice for the breastfeeding person’s partner — please, please, please, be supportive and encourage your partner. Let them know that you share in their frustrations, goals, and victories. An encouraging partner makes all the difference!