Breastfeeding can be hard. Beyond hard. Impossible sometimes. It can be severely painful, you may have low milk supply, or your baby may not know how to latch on correctly. But what happens when you really, really want your baby to be breastfed?
Rebecca McKeever was one of those women. She knew she wanted to breastfeed and would do anything she could do for her newborn, but she didn’t want to cause nipple confusion by using a bottle. Two weeks ago, Carriage House Birth posted a photo on Instagram of Rebecca feeding her daughter Andromeda with a syringe.
Although Rebecca is a doula, she told The Huffington Post that she “was familiar with syringe-feeding … but in the moment I really needed someone to suggest it to me!” Understandable, Rebecca. You just gave birth — we’ll totally give you a pass for forgetting about this method.
About 17 hours after birth, a lactation consultant came to her room to see if she needed help. She noticed Rebecca expressing colostrum into a cup. The lactation consultant ran to get some smaller cups and syringes for her. When they tried feeding Andromeda the colostrum with the syringe, she was able to eat a few drops at a time.
Rebecca states that it was “incredible” and that feeding her with the syringe helped wake the baby, and even helped Andromeda try breastfeeding.
“In that moment, I felt so empowered and happy to be able to feed my baby,” McKeever told The Huffington Post. “Even if it wasn’t in the ‘traditional’ way, it didn’t matter to me! I knew it might take some time.”
I certainly wish that I had known about syringe-feeding when my first child was born. I struggled greatly with pain. The lactation consultants told me that the latch was perfect every time, but I remember thinking that there was no way that the pain I endured could be normal. I recall one of my first nights at home, sobbing as I fed my daughter and wondering how on earth we’d ever get through. Other moms sympathized and told me it would get better, and so I persisted. Eventually the pain subsided, but if I had known about syringe-feeding, I possibly could have gotten some relief far sooner.
There are other alternatives available too, and these alternative feeding methods may be used for both breastfed or formula-fed babies. Newborns with latching problems can be fed with a cup, a spoon, a nursing supplementer (which mimics breastfeeding), or can be finger fed. There are even specialized bottles for babies that have a cleft lip.
Rebecca’s Instagram photo has gotten incredibly positive feedback and the comments prove that syringe-feeding is a great method for mothers who don’t want their babies to take a bottle. Many mothers stated that they had “been there before” and in reference to breastfeeding they “eventually got there.”
A few weeks into this world and Andromeda got there, too. She is exclusively breastfeeding, thanks to her persistent mama and the lactation consultant who reminded her that some things don’t always work out as planned, but there are ways to get there eventually.
h/t: Huffpost Parents