Mother’s Stories


Mother’s Stories;

Healing from Positioning Problems

The Mother’s Stories

    These stories are true. The mothers wrote and shared them with the hope that other mothers and babies would avoid the suffering that they went through. These are only 6 of the hundreds of mothers that we have worked with who suffered because of the football, log and cross cradle holds.

    Show me the path where I should walk, O, Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

                    Psalm 25: 4-5

1. Mother Elizabeth, first baby-

    ‘The most significant problem I had using the cross cradle hold almost exclusively was SORE NIPPLES. I was in pain, real pain, for the first 3 1/2 weeks. At that time my husband, watching me suffer, bought me a really good breastfeeding pillow. While the pain was never completely relieved until I stopped the position, it definitely subsided to a tolerable level because the weight of my baby’s body was being supported by this pillow.

    I couldn’t feed without the pillow, it was difficult to hold her steady, she was getting heavier. It just didn’t feel natural, graceful, and right, and it wasn’t! I felt like the pillow saved me but that didn’t feel right either, our ancestors didn’t have specially designed foam pillows that velcro around you.

    I was still somewhat in pain and I knew something was wrong. After about 4 weeks of pretty constant pain, after reading everything I could, I called the hospital where I gave birth. They gave me the name of a lactation consultant that I knew I couldn’t afford and told me that La Leche League might be helpful.

    I attended a LLL meeting where I learned the CRADLE HOLD. The cradle hold is a natural position, it feels right. My baby and I immediately felt calmer, we were more relaxed physically and emotionally. I was not straining myself to hold her head, she was not rooting in the wrong direction and feeling very frustrated at not finding the nipple. I was not dreading each feeding. Most importantly, after 3 or 4 days of USING THE CRADLE HOLD EXCLUSIVELY, I WAS NO LONGER IN PAIN.

    We definitely enjoy our nursing now and barely ever use our pillow.’

--Mother Elizabeth

2. Mother Dana; I learned from my first baby-
  1. Here is an example of a mother who used the cross cradle hold for 2 years with her firstborn, only used the cradle hold with her second child, and her experiences with both.

  2.      ‘I had sore nipples at the beginning (using the cross cradle hold with first baby) and about every 6 months or so I’d get them again. They were so sore nothing really helped. I was forced to nurse at home since I’d have to take my breastfeeding pillow along in order to nurse. This made me very uncomfortable nursing in public. I would get achy shoulders and wrists. Unfortunately, I nursed my daughter for over two years this way.

    I now have a second baby and have nursed her in the cradle hold from delivery. I didn’t really think much about the cross cradle hold until now. It is SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE IN THE CRADLE HOLD. It feels more natural. I can relax my shoulders while I nurse so I am very comfortable. My second baby is 10 months old now and I haven’t had any sore nipples or achy shoulders or wrists. I am able to nurse comfortably in public and I don’t take our breastfeeding pillow with us when I visit family or friends.’

--Mother Dana

    Note- Dana had us stumped for awhile. When we saw her with her first baby she would nurse in the cradle hold. We checked her positioning which was correct. We ran through other things that might be giving her sore nipples but nothing helped. We didn’t know that she was nursing in the cross cradle hold at home.

3. Mother Jackie, first baby -

    After dealing with problems from the cross cradle hold and studying the use of breastfeeding pillows I have some information I would like to share.

     I was once told that there is nothing new in breastfeeding that a mother needs to learn in order to breastfeed successfully. If that is in fact true, then one might wonder why the cross cradle hold is being taught in the United States as the newest and latest thing in breastfeeding. I have come to the conclusion that part of the reason that this hold has come into vogue in the US is due to the introduction of pillows in the practice of nursing a baby. I believe the use of pillows while nursing is an unnecessary complication which fosters and perpetuates the use of the cross cradle hold and ultimately results in many failed lactation efforts.

    I was taught to breastfeed in a prominent Chicago teaching hospital upon the birth of my first child. One of the aspects of that process that I found most confounding and frustrating was being told by the lactation consultant that I needed half a dozen pillows in order to successfully breastfeed. I recoiled at the idea that I could not breastfeed without incorporating so many pillows into the process-how did cavewomen ever manage without so much as a single pillow?

    Nevertheless, because the lactation consultant was an expert, I took her advice and began using numerous pillows each time I nursed my baby. What I found is that when I used pillows to support my breastfeeding, I could fairly easily use the cross cradle hold because all I had to do was place the baby on the pillow, let go of his head, support my breast, and voila, the baby was nursing.

    The problems began when I started going out with the baby, without the pillow, and found that he was refusing to nurse in the cross cradle hold. Then, of course, I was bearing his full weight in my arms rather than supporting him with the pillows, and I was forced to hold the back of his head with my hand (which I didn’t have to do when he was being supported by the pillows).

    After numerous attempts to nurse without the pillow I called (La Leche League) in desperation, convinced that my baby was unhappy with my milk for some reason and was weaning himself. I was fortunate in having done so because I was taught to switch to the cradle hold, at which point my baby was happily nursing once again (only this time, without pillows).

    I don’t know what your position is on the use of (special breastfeeding) pillows in nursing but I have come to the conclusion that I oppose it. I think that it generally causes more problems than it solves for a variety of reasons. For one thing it doesn’t seem to allow your arm muscles to develop to the point where you can nurse a growing baby outside the home without a supporting pillow. Second, the hold seems dependent on pillows because the baby seems to not enjoy having the back of his head held while he nurses. I found that I was effectively a "prisoner to the pillow".

    What I have discovered since switching to the cradle hold is that a nursing pillow is not nearly as useful for the cradle hold as it was for the cross cradle hold. Since using the cradle hold exclusively, I found that I have no need for or desire to use a nursing pillow.

    I don’t know the history of nursing in this country but I do know about nursing in portions of Europe where my mother and I originated. In Montenegro, where we are from, women are taught to nurse in both the cradle hold and while lying down - each position without the crutch of any pillows whatsoever. Women from that part of the world are not generally taught the cross cradle hold and do not, in my experience, generally use it.

    I suspect that the cross cradle hold became popular in the US when American women started being taught to incorporate pillows in nursing. This appears to be supported by the fact that almost every lactating woman in the US owns a breastfeeding pillow.

    (Claudia’s note; we first saw mothers being taught to use the cross cradle hold, taught to not use the cradle hold, and then the increase of special nursing pillows happened.)

    In conclusion, I believe the use of pillows in nursing is not only unnecessary but may also be detrimental to the nursing process - first because you become dependent on them and second because they encourage the use of the cross cradle hold.’

--Mother Jackie

  1. 4. Mother Susan; 4 children, nursed each for shorter periods of time because of the cross cradle hold, imprinted with the first hold she learned

    I am eager to share with you information about my nursing experiences that may help new nursing mothers.

    I have four children (ages 11, 9, 7, and 2), and I nursed them all.

My oldest was born in 1990, and that is when my nursing story begins. The most important part of my story - and this is the part that might help new mothers - concerns the nursing hold I was taught in the hospital when my first child was born. That hold is called the cross cradle hold, and while it worked for a short time, the cross cradle hold inevitably made it impossible for me to nurse any of my four children for any length of time. I wish my nursing experience had been different.

    Upon the arrival of my first child in 1990, I was completely unprepared for the mechanics of nursing. Neither my mother nor my mother-in-law had nursed their children. None of my peers had children yet - I was the first. My oldest sister had nursed successfully, but she was a thousand miles away. I had other obstacles as well - I am a very fair-skinned red head, with fair skin surrounding my nipples, and one slightly inverted nipple.

    Despite all this, I was very eager to nurse. I had done my research, and was truly committed.

    As blisters and soreness developed even within 24 hours of my child’s birth, I became anxious to find a way to nurse without pain. The hospital staff showed me the cross cradle hold. I immediately took to the cross cradle hold because it allowed me to hold my breast with one hand. That act of holding on to my breast somehow, in my mind, eased my pain and soreness.

    Here is the heart of my story for new mothers - once I learned the cross cradle hold and used it over and over in the first weeks of my child’s life, it was imprinted in me and I could never let it go. I could not take my hand away from the breast on which the baby was nursing.

    I simply could not. And as a result, I always had to nurse sitting down in a

chair with pillows arranged in such a way as to support that hold. That was

inconvenient with one child, but as I had more and more children I nursed for shorter and

shorter periods of time. I could not be a busy mother and be tied to a chair with a

certain arrangement of pillows.

    The cross cradle hold made nursing a production, and I looked with longing at the mothers I saw nursing at the library or the park (using the cradle hold). I could not do that. And I cannot exaggerate how hard I tried to flip my babies around into a simple cradle hold so that I could free my hands. In my experience, I felt a strong, almost biological bond to the initial hold I was taught to use. I think imprinting is a very good term to describe this phenomenon.

    As a result of my experience, I feel the information about the difficulties with the cross cradle hold is crucial for new mothers. I wish I had been told how limiting this hold would turn out to be. Actually, I wish no one had ever shown me the cross cradle hold. I was so desperate and in so much pain in the first few days of my firstborn’s life that I was going to try anything. I needed to be instructed about proper latching on, and not told about the cross cradle hold.

    I nursed my third and fourth children for just three months each. I am convinced that with the cradle hold, I would have nursed them nearly a year. Moreover, I think the nursing I did do would have been much less intrusive on the rest of my family - it would have been more natural - with the proper hold. I hope you will share my story with your group.

            Sincerely,   Susan



  1. 5.From: Mother Marissa

    I am no stranger to breastfeeding. I am the eldest of four breastfed children. I have watched all of my aunts nurse my younger cousins. I have been the nanny of three breastfed babies.

    I have never once seen a woman use the positions into which I have been instructed to contort myself in order to nurse my son.

    On December 1st, I gave birth to a beautiful, premature baby boy. At just over 5 lb., at 35 weeks my son was perfectly healthy with the exception of regulating his own glucose. Though I was able to nurse initially using the cradle hold in the delivery room, nurses insisted that only formula would do the trick of stabilizing his sugars. Desperate to have my baby back, I conceded. However, formula was not the answer; my son would be admitted to the Special Care Nursery.

    The feeling of leaving the hospital without my son paled in comparison to the heartbreak I felt every time I saw an artificial nipple in his mouth. I tried numerous times to nurse him in the NICU, only to be discouraged by the staff. Apparently, nursing was a ‘waste of his energy’. It ‘burned too many precious calories’. Just pump your milk, hand it over, and get out is what they might as well have said. I ignored them as much as possible, and tried to nurse without assistance.

    Since given a bottle, my baby’s natural rooting reflex had been diminished, and I was having trouble latching him on. (Bottle nipples often cause a preference for the bottle because the milk comes out of the bottle easier.) The nurses walked right past me and timed my attempts. After 15 minutes, they would take him away and feed him a bottle. I gave up trying, pumped instead, and prayed we could leave the hospital soon.

    At four days old he was moved to ‘Nursery E’, where the staff was far more relaxed. When I walked into the hospital that morning, my baby’s nurse was about to feed him a bottle. When she saw me, she asked if I would like to nurse instead!!! I struggled to latch him, and the nurse responded by showing me the cross cradle hold. She had me hold my son with my right arm as she put my left breast in his mouth. We were nursing. I did not care if it felt uncomfortable to hold him that way, I just wanted to breastfeed my baby.

    We were visited by a lactation consultant three days later, who gave me information on how to wean my baby from the bottle using a wheel chart of transition. She checked my ‘pumping technique’, remarked on my ample milk supply (I was able to provide exclusively breast milk for my son from his third day of life), offered a few tips on dealing with my severe engorgement, and advised me to have formula on hand ‘just in case’ when we got home.

    "She showed me the football hold and the cross cradle hold (neither while I nursed, for some reason she did not have time to actually show me how to breastfeed my preemie), saying my ‘large breasts (I am actually a petite 5’2’’, small framed, and a 38 D while pregnant/nursing...not an unusually large person in any respect) ‘would make it difficult to feed him the normal way’. We left the hospital the next day with our son, armed only with diagrams, wheel-charts, a few lactation consultants’ phone numbers, and a lot of hope.

    The exhaustion of pumping and bottle feeding my expressed milk around the clock the first weeks is indescribable. Newborn preemies eat almost every two hours; it would take, on average, 30 minutes to feed my baby 50 to 60 c.c.s, another 20 to 30 minutes to change his diaper during and after almost every feeding, and 30 to 40 minutes to pump the supply for the next feeding. That left about 30 minutes in between to eat, clean the pump parts and run to the bathroom. There was rarely time to sleep.

    My husband had two weeks off after the birth of our son, and our baby was 8 days old when we brought him home. Without any family to help, and with my husband returning to work, I decided to chuck the wheel-chart from the LC... the only way I would survive was to get my baby on the breast by the time my husband returned to work 6 days later.

    We were unable to afford a lactation consultant home visit at the time, and I was apprehensive about taking a preemie to any meetings in December, so I went to a bookstore and bought the most breast-friendly book in the store. Desperate, I took it home and began using it as my sole learning tool, my bible. The cross cradle hold was hailed as THE position, the football hold a close second for ‘large breasted’ women.

    We could not manage the cross cradle hold, but the football hold seemed to work for us... though it was extremely uncomfortable. Leaning forward with your arm under the weight of even a five-pounder took it’s toll. But it was all we could master, so I rode it out.

    Somewhere around 5 months my baby and I managed to figure out the cross cradle hold. It seemed like one step closer to ‘normal’ nursing, and I still couldn’t transition to the cradle hold. The football hold made it impossible to nurse in bed, and night-time feedings required us to get up and nurse in the living room. We also found ourselves unable to nurse in public, so we rarely left home. With the cross cradle hold, I was still feeling the stress of leaning forward, as there was nowhere to sit in our house that was quite vertical enough, and we were still unable to nurse in bed, no matter how many pillows we used to prop both the baby and me up.

    The long months had begun to take their toll, and I found myself with constant neck pain and severe headaches. I knew the pain was relative to our positioning, and tried to learn how to nurse in the ‘normal’ cradle hold. I was unsuccessful, until I saw a news clip of a woman learning to nurse in the hospital after delivery. My son was 6 months old, but I was able to mimic her positioning immediately, though latching on was still achieved cross cradle style. My baby and I also learned to nurse lying down, which became an enormous relief to our family. Co-sleeping became a pleasure, and nursing through the night was beautifully achieved in our own bed. Six months into the game we were finally getting it down!

    At 7 1/2 months I started to have a great deal of nipple pain while nursing that I mistakenly attributed to new teeth. He had bitten me a few times, and we were trying to position him in a way to cause less damage with his teeth. It took me two weeks to figure out that we may have thrush. In August, 2002, I attended my first LLL meeting (we did not nurse at the meeting), after which I took my son straight to the pediatrician, who confirmed my suspicions of thrush. Ten days into treatment, we were not improving, and were put on Diflucan.

    Ten days after that, I developed mastitis. A round of Erythromycin did not clear the symptoms, though I had no fever. It did, however, bring back the thrush. My OB insisted I could not possibly have mastitis without a fever, but prescribed antibiotics ‘just in case I developed a fever suddenly’; I was told to absolutely not take the meds unless I spiked a fever.

    She also advised me to wean my almost 9 month old. "He’ll be fine", she said. I walked out. After suffering in pain that I can only describe as beyond agonizing (I truly felt more pain than during childbirth... at least there is time between contractions) I went to LLL again for the September meeting, where the leaders felt certain the hardening and red patch on my right breast qualified as mastitis. I filled the prescription that day, and had improved 80% by the next morning. Two preventive treatments with Gentian Violet stayed off a major thrush infection this time, but I did develop two milk blisters on my right breast.

    At the September LLL meeting, there arose the topic of proper positioning, and I heard someone mention the cross cradle hold and how it was harmful... as I positioned my son on my right breast with my left arm holding his head (this describes the cross cradle hold). I whipped my head around the room and said "why, what do you mean... I thought it was the ‘preferred position?’ " The two leaders then explained to me that they truly believe the cross cradle hold creates nipple damage, along with countless other discomforts such as back pain, headaches, etc.

    I was in shock, and honestly, a bit skeptical. After all, it contradicted everything I knew thus far. I agreed to give the old-fashioned cradle hold a try, though I was concerned that it may not work, as it had not before, and with a 20 pound infant, I doubted we were going to manage such an enormous change.

    Over a period of 9 weeks, my baby and I suffered through an excruciating round-robin of mastitis and thrush. We struggled to figure out how to nurse the ‘normal’ way. I wavered back and forth between feeling gung-ho about re-training both my son and myself, and truly thinking these women were downright wrong; as I struggled to latch him on properly time and time again in the cradle hold, it seemed as though it was more painful than before.

    Finally, after a phone call from my LLL Leader, I was visited by a long-time nursing mother and LLL Leader, who graciously came to my home and helped me to position my son. I cannot tell you how incredible it felt to have the Leader tell me to sit back comfortably, and have it actually work. We can do this, I realized. I sat against the back of my couch, rather than pillows, for the first time when my son was almost 10 months old. She showed me how to hold him and balance his weight on my ribcage (tummy to tummy), and told me that learning to support him with only my arms (and ribcage area) would take patience on my part. I learned how to wrap his body around me to create a better latch.

    She encouraged me to do away with all the pillows around us. That took a lot of trust, and though we were still challenged for a short time after, now, six weeks later, I finally feel comfortable in saying we are successful.

    I am, for the first time since the end of July, confident that we are cured of our infections. My baby and I have been thrush and mastitis-free for a full month. It was a 3 month long battle for my son and I, but with the help of La Leche League, we have truly persevered.

    I breastfeed my 11 month old son in public without a second thought. I sit at home comfortably with my beautiful baby in my arms and nurse him without pain. I know inherently that the cross cradle hold caused the nipple damage that led to our struggle. There are no more doubts.

    There is however, an intense need to prevent other women from suffering needlessly. It is not ‘okay’ to nurse in pain. It is not ‘normal’ to be uncomfortable. It should not be ‘expected’ that breastfeeding is difficult. And it should not be accepted as common to struggle with the most natural of behaviors.

    I know that most women would not have kept nursing. My son is lucky, I come from a breastfeeding family. It was not an option for me to wean. I have built-in supports most women of my generation are not fortunate enough to experience.

    I am eternally grateful I met this group of LLL Leaders whose knowledge contradicted everything I learned before. I am hopeful their wisdom is contagious, and that LLL will revise it’s standing about the newer ‘trends’ in positioning. (As of 2010 LLL literature is still teaching the cross cradle hold, as are virtually all breastfeeding books and websites except this one, Teaching women quickie-solutions to issues of positioning will never foster a breastfeeding-friendly environment or culture. The implications are far too severe.

    I theorize the consequences of these positions are possibly the single largest contributing factor to early weaning.

    We must protect those women for whom nursing is a courageous choice. Women for whom nursing is a foreign concept. Women whom are cultured to believe breastfeeding is unnecessary, or even disgusting. If these women experience pain and discomfort when ‘giving it a try’, there is nothing to stop them from weaning prematurely. The norm must be shifted back to the old-fashioned ways, of nursing without all the foreign supports of pillows and reference manuals. Those alternative positions (HSH) damage the culture of breastfeeding by making it a complicated act. Restoring nursing to a comfortable, relaxing and natural behavior should become a priority. Only then is there hope of long-term breastfeeding becoming pure in itself once again.

--Mother Marissa

6. From: Mother Tracey-

    I grew up in the 70’s and was heavily indoctrinated that children prevent a woman from reaching her potential. At 21 I gave birth to a daughter. It was now the early 90’s and in this decade children no longer had to ‘ruin your life’. You just simply hand them over to complete strangers to raise (this is what we call daycare!) while you get on with your life.

    Two years later we had a second daughter. The only improvement I made as a mother was to hire a nanny to care for my daughters rather than to warehouse them in a daycare center.

    By the time I stopped blaming my parents for the miserable life I was leading and realized I was repeating the cycle on my own kids, infancy was long gone for each of my girls. I desperately asked God for another chance at motherhood. I had many regrets about the infancy of my older children. Through my years of self-discovery I learned that many life long emotional issues are created in infancy.

    My prayers were answered in March when I discovered I was pregnant. I had promised God that I would do things differently given another chance. God had done His part, now I needed to do mine.

    ‘Doing things differently’ was doing what was in the best interest of my child, not what was convenient for me. After only a little research, I knew that nursing my new baby was the only option. While I did make an attempt with my first daughter, that attempt was unsuccessful due to a lack of information and appropriate support. I was not going to be unsuccessful this time and began on a campaign to educate myself. I began attending LLL at about 5 months into my pregnancy. There, I was introduced to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

    I loved this book. It represented exactly the type of mother I wished to be with instructions on how to do it! I quickly learned that nursing was a method of mothering, not just a feeding choice. The next 4 months were preparation for mothering. I wanted to do everything within my power to ensure breastfeeding success.

    My mothering bible suggested an unmedicated birth. I began a search for a doula. The first doula I contacted recommended I take a Bradley Class. She also referred me to Bradley instructor ‘G’, who was also in the process of becoming a certified doula. Instructor G was wonderful. She was instrumental in involving my husband to a level I did not know was possible. While it was my intention all along , it was actually my husband who requested Instructor G attend our birth as our doula. We learned so much in our Bradley class.

    One of our final Bradley classes included a presentation from local lactation consultant Janet, who gave us an introduction to the early days of breastfeeding. She instructed us on the cross cradle hold, suggesting this was the best way to have success in breastfeeding.

    My midwife was becoming increasingly nervous about the size of my baby, but I insisted that I would not be induced, as I was with both of my previous births due to Gestational Diabetes. My midwife respected my wishes up until the day before my due date. She instructed me to be at the hospital at 8:00 PM for an induction. She recommended some castor oil if I wished. To this day I don’t know if the castor oil was effective but at 5:00 PM my water broke. My 11 LB 5 oz baby entered the world at exactly 8:00 PM. The birth experience was perfect. Labor was short and tolerable until the end when my daughters’ shoulder became stuck. There was panic in the delivery room and the midwife shouted for help.

    Finally, by the grace of God, she came out with no apparent problems, but a broken clavicle. We named her Margaret. She seemed to latch on immediately and all appeared well. On the second day of life, the day we were discharged from the hospital, she began crying incessantly. The hospital lactation consultant told me that she was probably gassy, due to the spaghetti I had eaten the night before. She assured me that all was well.

    Finally by the fourth day of incessant crying both my husband and I were beside ourselves. I called my LLL Leader, who gave me some suggestions to calm Margaret. Both my husband and I began to think that she was hungry and against our better judgment, we gave her an ounce of the formula sample we were given in the hospital. She sucked it down in a hurry and went to sleep.

    We called lactation consultant Janet. She observed Margaret nursing, corrected my cross cradle positioning then dropped a bombshell. She told us that she had seen an increasing number of babies who were unable to transfer milk from the breast.

    Margaret had lost over 15 % of her birth weight and was starving. I was completely unprepared for what would become the next 5 1/2 discouraging, heart breaking and confusing months.

    The prescription for our problem was to pump and feed Margaret via a finger and syringe. She also suggested I see a doctor several hours from our home to begin ‘Cranial Sacral Therapy’. Supposedly this was ‘the latest’ remedy for babies who would not nurse. When I asked how many nursing couples this had worked for, I was told ‘for all who had hung in there’, but most it seemed had given up. Well, I did not put in so much hard work for nothing. I was up for the challenge!

    The recommended doctor, who was several hours away would not be back in her office until after the New Year. I was a little too impatient for this, since Margaret was almost a week old. I had not experienced the joy of having my newborn nurse peacefully at my breast and I was married to a pump.

     We decided to try the Cranial Sacral Treatment with a local woman, who LC Janet had just recently become acquainted with. This woman was wonderful. After our session Margaret latched, nursed and all seemed well. LC Janet loaned me a scale to make sure Margaret was gaining weight, which I also used once to gauge how much milk Margaret was drinking. I measured a few ounces. I was confident that our troubles were behind us.

    I was the proud mama at my first LLL meeting postpartum. I had overcome! Everyone congratulated me and I felt so good about the effort I had put in pumping and syringe feeding.

    My world was shaken when I took Margaret for a weight check at the pediatrician. She had not gained even an ounce (although she also had not lost any!) I was devastated and called LC Janet. She thought that perhaps their scale was off and that I should come to her office to weigh Margaret. We got the same results. LC Janet instructed me to go home, nurse Margaret, pump, then introduce a bottle because this would increase the speed of the feeding. The first time I did this, I pumped out 3 oz. Margaret drank it happily.

    LC Janet’s next solution was Cranial Sacral therapy again, but this time by the doctor two hours away. She  suggested pumping and bottle-feeding for the next few days. When we went for our next weight check, Margaret had gained several ounces and was back up to her birth weight.

    I went to an LLL enrichment meeting feeling like a complete failure. I was the only woman bottle feeding. The topic of the meeting, again by the grace of God, was interventions that support breastfeeding and those that lead to weaning. Bottle feeding my baby was obviously a step in the wrong direction.

    My LLL Leader, called LC Janet on my behalf, and was told that the bottle was merely a tool and that she should not involve herself in the treatment. My LLL Leader reassured me that LC Janet was reputable and had helped her in the past.

    Money was becoming very tight. My husband’s seasonal business had closed. We were waiting for snow to fall and a basement remodeling job to come through. The cost of Cranial Sacral therapy was $245.00 for the first appointment then $100.00 and my parents covered the rest. We went for the initial appointment, but the results were naught. Money was now non-existent. I did not call LC Janet again because I could not afford her suggestions.

    I continued pumping and bottle-feeding Margaret. I found a hospital based LC, who agreed to see us and bill our insurance directly. By the time we got our second opinion we now had introduced a secondary problem, Margaret was not interested in my breast at all. She had definitely developed a preference for the bottle. I was absolutely devastated. My goal of breastfeeding seemed to be slipping away from me.

    I was determined to nurse Margaret. I refused to give up on her. I spent the next several months with support from an online ‘exclusively pumping’ board as well as several emails to prominent breastfeeding experts. One did agree that some infants are unable to transfer milk but usually outgrow this by 8 weeks. He was disappointed that LC Janet introduced a bottle. He said my goal of holding my baby to my breast while nourishing her should have been met with a supplemental nursing system.

    At this point I was furious with LC Janet. I trusted that her commitment to breastfeeding mirrored mine, but came to find out after a visit to her website that her specialty is working and pumping. The only philosophy we seemed to share was a commitment to feeding babies breast milk.

    The other expert suggested that I bath with Margaret. Have as much skin on skin contact as possible, co-sleep, etc. We had a victory one day when Margaret accepted the breast in the bath tub and happily nursed for about 10 minutes. This was the first time in months that I had any hope at all. I was on a mission again.

    I emailed LLL for some suggestions. They sent the name and number of four leaders in the Chicago area who specialize in non-latching babies. I called each name on the list with no luck in reaching anyone, except for the last name on the list which was Claudia.

    Claudia told me she had worked with many women who experienced the same purported condition of not being able to transfer milk. She told me she had even worked with another woman who was sent on the Cranial Sacral therapy train.

    Claudia was like a breath of fresh air to me. She was the only person I had dealt with who actually shared my commitment to breastfeeding. She told me my problem was the cross cradle positioning I was taught to use. She suggested I take a weekend, don’t pump at all and don’t give Margaret any bottles. I was instructed to use ONLY the cradle hold, which she taught me over the phone.

    Initially I was fearful that this weekend would deplete the milk supply that I had worked so hard to maintain. After some consideration and the sincerity Claudia had conveyed in our phone conversation, I decided this was my last ditch effort. I determined that while I would still continue to pump and feed Margaret breast milk, I would not attempt nursing after this weekend (if Margaret didn’t nurse).

    At first Margaret was unreceptive. Once she realized she had my nipple in her mouth, she spit it out and began to cry. I decided to try the nipple shield I was given by the hospital LC since Margaret was not used to the feel of skin in her mouth. After only a few tries, Margaret was happy to nurse with the use of the nipple shield, success! My baby was nursing with only a thin piece of rubber between us!! Was it possible that it the was the position all along? Was it the cross cradle hold that had destroyed my nursing relationship?

    I called Claudia on Monday, so excited and grateful for her help. After 5 1/2 months of feeling like a complete nursing failure it was great to share my success with the women in my LLL group. The following week Margaret decided that the nipple shield was no longer necessary. Since that weekend in June, we have not even had a bump in the road. At 21 months, we are still a happy nursing couple who use nothing but the cradle hold.

    I shudder to think how many women and babies have had an abrupt end to their nursing relationship due to the cross cradle hold. In the midst of my ordeal, I met a group of women online who were pumping and bottle feeding, like me due to latching difficulties.

    The feelings we all shared were that while we were pleased that our babies were not being fed formula, we were all failures because we could not do what other nursing couples can.

    At this writing I am pursuing some education so I can help other women know the difference between giving birth and being a mother. Apparently I am still a feminist but now in the truest sense of the word. My 6 month ordeal will not have been in vain if this information will save just one woman a repeat of my experience.

--Mother Tracey


Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Proverbs 31:8


Website Index

Breastfeeding Positions

Thoughts to Share

Quiz Yourself