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The Importance of Breastfeeding Support

Angela Harris
Houston County GA USA
From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 3, May-June 2005, p. 106

When I was 24 and had been married for one month, my doctor told me I would not be able to have children. Well, at least not without great difficulty or in vitro fertilization. I was also told that I would eventually need a hysterectomy. My husband and I were very saddened by this. I underwent endometriosis surgery and a course of hormones.

Three years later, to our surprise, we were blessed with a healthy baby boy, Jacob. Delivery was difficult, but we were tickled to have such a wonderful gift. Jacob was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for four days after birth and he had difficulty latching on and breastfeeding.

Since my husband is on active duty in the military, we were 10 hours away from our closest relatives. None of my friends had breastfed, either, so I didn't have very much help or support. Three months later, I moved in with my husband's parents while he was in officer training, but the nearest LLL meeting was more than an hour away. I talked to the Leader once, but could never seem to attend meetings. It wasn't until Jacob was seven months old that I went to an LLL meeting after moving (again!) to Panama City, Florida, USA. I connected with two wonderful Leaders who taught me so much. I learned how to nurse while lying down, I learned about weaning practices, and, best of all, I learned how to become an LLL Leader and help other military spouses who are so far from home.

At the beginning of 2002, I was accredited as a Leader. That same month, I became pregnant with my daughter. In December 2002, Ashleigh was born. At the delivery, I had the complication of a prolapsed uterus. My midwife said everything should get better and shrink back into the proper positions within a few months. This never happened. The prolapse got worse and started to include my bladder and intestine. It was very uncomfortable and painful.

After many months and visits to the doctor, my gynecologist told me the only way to fix the prolapse was to have a hysterectomy. I was devastated. I was 30 years old and back to where I had started. However, this time, I had two beautiful healthy children. I decided I would have the surgery.

In February 2004, when Ashleigh was 14 months old, I had a vaginal laparoscopic-assisted hysterectomy. We nursed early that morning before I went to the hospital. When I regained consciousness, my husband brought her to me to nurse again. The anesthesiologist assured me that Ashleigh would not be affected by the anesthesia.

I was in the hospital for two days. During that time, my husband and my mother brought Ashleigh to the hospital to nurse. That was such a special time. I had been afraid I would lose that closeness with her, but the surgery only brought us closer. Recovery was difficult because I couldn't lift Ashleigh but with my son's help we managed just fine. I couldn't have made it through that recovery time without the help of my husband, my mother, my church, and the wonderful women of the LLL Houston County Group in Georgia, USA.

The Group mothers brought meals, tended to my children, helped me with household chores, and kept me sane. My husband went on temporary duty with the military twice in my eight-week recovery time. My co-Leader kept my spirits up during this very difficult period in my life. I cherish the friendships that I have made through La Leche League and I look forward to the many others I will make when we move with the military again.

Ashleigh is 26 months old and still breastfeeding. She loves my milk. My husband has been overseas because of the war in Iraq three times since 2003 and breastfeeding and La Leche League continue to help my family through the hard times.

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