The events surrounding the birth of my first baby were chaotic at best. She came into this world fast and furious which meant a pretty frightening loss of blood upon delivery. Being new parents, The Husband and I weren’t really sure how things were supposed to go, so we paid no mind to my lethargy and grey complexion, figuring they were just part of the deal.
As her birth was “relatively uncomplicated” (not my words) and took place in a very busy hospital full of far more seriously complicated births, I was left to my own devices for much of the first 24 hours after delivery. Looking back, I could probably have sued, or at least raised a stink, over the poor care I received. But in that moment, I just laid in my bed doing the only thing I remembered being told to do-nursing my newborn. It was fortunate that the hospital staff was busy, because it meant my daughter and I had plenty of time for skin to skin as no one was there to take care of either one of us. After the placenta was delivered and she was given a cursory once over we were left alone to wait for a while to learn our next steps, and we did so together.
I have had three children, so I am aware of the rush of love hormones that can happen after you deliver a child. With my second child, I felt them like a wave that takes you out at the knees. There was no way I was letting that sweet boy out of my site-perhaps ever. It was an ache in my heart I’d never known and to this day can’t describe to anyone who has never experienced it. With my daughter, I was one of the unlucky ones who didn’t.
Perhaps it was the loss of blood and ensuing exhaustion. Perhaps the post-partum depression started immediately. I’m not sure what the cause, but I do know I did not feel that rush of love for my girl. In fact, I felt nothing. But, I did what I was told and put that child to my breast as soon and as often as I could in those first few hours. I went into robotic mode and just kept holding her to me as if that was the only thing I knew. Probably because it was.
And you know what? She was a natural. That tiny thing opened wide and went to town as if she had taken the Breastfeeding Classes right along with me. She sucked for what felt like forever and amidst the chaos and uncertainty of that day, her nursing was the life-line that kept me hanging on. Our physical bonding made up for some of the darkness that took over me that day and would last the next nine months. I’m forever grateful for that closeness because I’m not sure what would have happened without it. Our nursing story wasn’t always so easy, but in those first few hours we both knew just what to do to keep eachother nourished and alive.
Breastfeeding is critical to preventing malnutrition and saving children’s lives in the developing world. According to a recent report from Save the Children, breastfeeding immediately after birth could help save 830,000 newborn babies from dying a year. The report says that if babies nurse within the first hour of being born, they stand a 22% greater chance and surviving. Surviving. I guess the argument then is that in the developing world, nursing within the first few hours of life saves lives.
I know for sure it saved mine.
I am a part of the Global Team of 200 and Social Good Moms‘ 24-Hour Blogathon spreading the word about Save the Children’s new breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies. Sign the petition urging Secretary Kerry to help mothers around the world get more support around breastfeeding and lifesaving nutrition for their babies.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.