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Breastfeeding a Baby with Down Syndrome - one year later!

You might remember we featured a story about our friend Tammy and her Daughter Stella. Stella is Tammy's 3rd child and she was born with Down Syndrome. Tammy was determined to breastfeed Stella despite the known challenges. It's been a year since Stella was born and we wanted to show you how she's doing now!

Here is Tammy's story:

I find it so hard to believe that it has been one year since my baby girl was born.  What a journey it has been for us; full of sleepless nights, dirty diapers, first coos, first laughs, first outings, first kisses, etc.  Our breastfeeding journey has been full as well; full of first latches, let downs in public, milky smiles, first clogged milk ducts, biting, nip lashes, and of course the sweetest moments of nursing my sweet angel to sleep.  I wouldn’t trade one minute of it. 

I am proud to say that we just celebrated our one year nursaversary on Nov 1 and are still going strong.  Stella is my third child. I nursed both of my boys as well, one for six months and the other for nine months.  I never thought I would be nursing past one year.  But I have learned so much this time around.  I wish I knew then what I know now.  I am very thankful for breastfeeding groups like Milk and Baby.  They have truly helped me along the way and I have learned so much from them.  With my boys I supplemented formula at a very early age which I believe led to early weaning and my milk supply to drop.  I am so happy to be able to say that Stella has never had a drop of formula.  It’s not that I think there is anything wrong with formula, I think you do what works best for you and your little one.  Exclusive nursing has worked best for us.  That being said, there have been hard times.  The fact that she would never take a bottle has forced me to not be able to leave her for very long periods of time.  But I know this time is so short and goes by so fast that I feel it has been worth it.

In the beginning of my breastfeeding journey, I was timid about nursing in public, especially when she was having a hard time with latching on.  But I am happy to say, that is no longer an issue for us.  I love the convenience of being able to meet my child’s needs at any time, wherever we are (even on rides at Disney World).  It is just so easy and opportune.  And to my surprise it is rarely noticed when I do NIP.  I have never had anyone say anything negative to me about it and have even been praised for doing so.  Stella is such a good, happy baby and I really believe that being able to comfort her with nursing has played a role in that. 

One of the most important things that I have learned this time around is to listen to my instinct.  I know what is best for my baby.  I like to listen to advice, read books, educate myself etc. but ultimately I need to go with my instinct.  It really makes life less stressful, my baby happier, and parenting more enjoyable. We, as mothers, always want to give advice and even judge others’ parenting.  The fact is, is that we are all different, our children are different and what works for one parent may not work for another.  Life is about living and learning as we go. 

I really and truly love breastfeeding!  It is some of the sweetest and most enjoyable times I have with my daughter.  It is something I will never regret doing and will always remember.  I still remember breastfeeding my boys, ages 10 and 8, like it was yesterday.  I know I will miss it when it’s over but for now I will just take it all in.  Stella and I have had an amazing journey and am happy to be continuing it.

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