Needles are a constant on babies lifes in their first year. After they are born they get vaccinated to prevent tuberculosis and hepatitis. Most babies get tested a few days later to make sure everything is in order. Some little ones get jaundice in their first days so tests are repeated or blood work is performed. They see needles again at 2, 4 and 6 months old. If the baby is lucky and is very healthy that would be it for a while but if the baby was born or develops different complications they will suffer the pain and insecurity of needles several times. Common senses makes us understand these are necessary pains. However, my heart would break each time I heard my baby screaming because health staff were puncturing her.
When she was 2 weeks old, the doctor at the local clinic send me to the lab so my baby could get a blood test since according to her judgement she had a yelowish color. I had to bite my lips in order not to cry. When she turned 2 months I took my sister with me to get her vaccinated. When she turned 4 I took a friend. I just couldn’t hold my baby after that first experience in the lab. I watched from far while my hands were sweating and as soon as they were done I would come closer to comfort her. I soon figured out that that pulling my breast out and offering it to her, calmed her down.
In one of those ocassions, a friend suggested me to breastfeed while vaccination. I started reading and investigating. I read how implementing this technique would help the baby to find a comfort place while being subjected to the vaccinaton stress. The WHO even has a protocol for health staff in case the mother wants to try it out.
I had several doubts in the beginning though. Could my baby choke? Would health staff let me try? Would I be doing good trying to minimize the pain or would I be creating a dependent baby? I asked a couple of friends about their experience with it and after some reading I was able to start answering those questions.
The only way my baby would choke would be if she was sucking out the milk. However, when they puncture the skin, babies usually react to that puncture, they stop sucking and milk inmedtiately stops flowing since the nipple is not being stimulated. How would the baby choke if there is no liquid that they can choke with? I was willing to try then.
I needed to take her for a routine blood test when she turned 6. Since I didn’t have a humanized child birth I prepared a whole speech in case they would deny my petition. I was determined and empowered to make them respect me and my baby. Surprisingly, none of that was necessary. The nurse kindly suit the chair and made me feel in control. Needle came and even though the baby did cry, she only did for a few seconds with no tears. After a minute she was completely calmed. I did it again the following week for her 6 month vaccination. I can say is an effective method. Is like magic. But, why?
Well, babies suck for many reasons. The suck obviously because they are hungry. However, there is an emotional component that is very strong and that we don’t necessarily always remember. Babies suck because they want to be close to their mothers. That way, they can get to meet each other and bond. Babies not only eat from the breast of their mothers, they also entretain themselves from them and when they are tired they fall sleep over them. Babies suck because they feel secured and protected in their mothers chests. They get releif and comfort. Babies love their mommies breast. That’s how they know love. Is not surprising then that when they breastfeed during vaccination they feel less pain and anxiety.
It is not a surprise either people talking on my back saying I am over protecting my baby just because I offer the breast a lot, or because I carry her all the time or because I don’t let her cry. Most times I just ignore them. There is no point on arguing my raising methods with others. I just have some basic thoughts. None of these people live with me. They don’t know our routine. Do these people even realize for how much longer my baby would want to be in my arms? In a couple of months she will be crawling. In 6, she will be walking. Someday she will wean. Everything will change at it’s own time. So, why do you want to ask a 6 month old baby to be brave with needles and to face them alone when their momma can minimize the pain and insecurity?
Step by step.I have been empowering myself in the motherhood process. I read, I investigate and then I make the decisions I feel are the best for my baby. My only regreat is not have done it before.
This post was updated on August 6th, 2018 with the following video: