Oliver and his mom, Tammy.

Oliver and his mom, Tammy.

Little Oliver may be the sweetest, happiest baby that you’ve ever seen! His smile is infectious, and his mom, Tammy, has a “just do it” attitude that she brings into motherhood.

Oliver was lucky: though many babies with Down syndrome experience difficulties getting the hang of breastfeeding, Oliver caught on right away. He latched within the first hour after birth and had a very strong suck, which helped Tammy’s supply come in quickly.

Breastfeeding Oliver was different than breastfeeding her older children, Tammy noticed, since Oliver was a very sleepy baby. His nursing sessions didn’t last long and he ate more frequently than Tammy expected. It was hard for him to put on weight during his first month, but once he became more alert, he started gaining weight. 

Tammy said the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, a series of supportive facebook groups comprised of moms of children with DS, was the best resource to help her nurse Oliver successfully. The other mothers in the group helped her understand that what she was experiencing was normal. Before talking to those moms online, no one told Tammy that Oliver might be sleepier than her other babies had been, or that the act of breastfeeding would tire him out.

Tammy had no idea people could be discouraging about breastfeeding babies with Down syndrome. As Oliver got older and Tammy started talking to other moms, she learned that some were told it would be too hard and not to bother breastfeeding. Tammy was “appalled” to hear that and wanted to share her story to make breastfeeding a baby with DS seem less intimidating.

Tammy knows she was blessed to have experienced relatively few challenges with breastfeeding Oliver, but she said even if had experience challenges, she would continue to breastfeed because of the strong bond it created.

Why does Tammy love breastfeeding Oliver? Well, for one thing, Oliver loves it and he still breastfeeds whenever he can! Oliver had a birth diagnosis of Down syndrome and through the shock of the diagnosis, breastfeeding him as she had her older children helped the two of them to bond and helped her believe that even with the diagnosis, Oliver was just like her other children. Tammy also chose to breastfeed because of the benefits Oliver’s immune system, giving him a better chance of not getting sick. She credits breastfeeding for getting them through his first winter with minimal illnesses.

Tammy’s advice to other moms is to find people to encourage you and not listen to the naysayers.

“If you want to nurse your baby with Down syndrome, then do it,” Tammy said. “You won’t regret it at all. It is possible and we as a community are always here to help you get to where you want to go.”

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