The interview below is part of an on-going series we will be publishing once a month or so. Stories direct from the moms that have experience what you have or are about to experience. If you'd like to submit a story you think might help other moms, contact Julia Baumeyer.
In this interview, we talk to Holly Konrath, mother of a son born at 37 weeks and spent time in The Women's Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
TWH: How early was your baby born and how long did he/she have to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?
HK: 37 Weeks and he was in the NICU for 13 days.
TWH: Did you seek out help provided by lactation consultants/other breastfeeding moms? Who were your go-to people when it came to breastfeeding support?
HK: I did. I have the "problem" of too much of a good thing so I asked a lot of moms and the lactation consultants advice on dealing with an oversupply. I was fortunate in a way to be in the NICU when the milk came in so I had lactation nearby for help.
TWH: Did you know throughout your entire pregnancy that you wanted to breastfeed…was it a no-brainer for you or an “I’m going to try if I can” for you?
HK: I had two children previous and they were breastfed so it was a no-brainer. With my first it was still a fairly easy decision but I had to be committed to it because it took awhile to get it right.
TWH: Was there anything that most surprised you about breastfeeding (easier than you thought, more difficult than you thought)?
HK: It was more difficult than I thought at first. It took 8 weeks to get it down. I made the mistake of forcing through pain because I thought the pain I was experiencing was normal. You wouldn't think you'd have to teach something that's so natural.
TWH: What’s your favorite part about breastfeeding? (that bonding time together, snuggling together with baby, taking the opportunity for you to solely focus on baby and your time together, etc?)
HK: Snuggling for sure. When I have extra time after a feeding we'll just lay together. Three kids and he's my first snuggler.
TWH: There are many moms out there who start breastfeeding and want to continue…what’s your number 1 piece of advice to moms who want to continue breastfeeding?
HK: Give it two or three months before you throw in the towel. I think the instinct is to give up after a week or two but it can take awhile. Situations where breastfeeding can't work are not very common.
TWH: Often times, there can be barriers to breastfeeding and sometimes barriers are even more when your baby is born premature….did you experience any of those barriers. If so, what was your biggest barrier and how did you overcome it?
HK: I experienced a new kind of barrier with Jack (my most recent baby) because of his stay in the NICU. Originally he had to be bottle fed and after that we were nervous about the amount he was getting so while he was at the hospital we were pumping and feeding which was exhausting. It was pump, clean supplies, go to the NICU to feed him and visit with him, and then repeat in two hours. I had wonderful family who brought me food and clothes and more than anything lifted my spirits. I'd encourage moms whose babies are in the NICU for very long to accept help. Lots of it. Including the nurses. I have been very blessed to have women in my life who are beautiful inside and out.
TWH: Anything else you’d like to offer?
HK: Don't let exhaustion beat you. A lot of times I didn't fix a bad latch because I was tired and just didn't have any fight in me. That only prolonged my overall pain and exhaustion. And I can't say this enough, accept help. Seek it if you have to. There are plenty of people out there who want to if you'll let them.