My sister-in-law recently gave birth to the newest member of our family- my perfect little niece H. She had this whole birth plan that involved a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarian) and she had her heart set on breastfeeding.
After a repeat c-section, she encountered obstacles that many mothers face postpartum and it got me thinking about the obstacles I faced only four months ago.
I have nothing to complain about. Compared to most women, my birth experience was a blissful walk in the park. I had a perfect pregnancy and an uncomplicated Christmas Eve birth that holds a place near and dear to my heart.
Some women are not that lucky.
I was not so ‘blessed’ when embarking on my breastfeeding career. After talking with my SIL I have been thinking about the difficulties I had when starting out, and how hard it was to find support.
Women have a multitude of feelings towards breastfeeding. Some believe that it is their right and it comes so easily, others find it exposing and indiscreet, some even underestimate the challenges involved.
Breastfeeding a newborn is no simple task, especially if it is also your first time.
Fortunately, newborns need little sustenance to survive until milk comes in and even the small amount colostrum you manage to produce can withhold newborn cries for a surprising amount of time.
Women forget that you and your newborn are teaching each other how to work together to create a perfect synergy, it doesn’t just happen without putting work into it.
Many mothers struggle to learn proper latching and become discouraged after their nipples become tender and they begin to feel pain or dry out. I faced similar problems.
I recall not long ago crying out in pain as my son latched on to my left nipple, leaving it swollen and purple for weeks. It took months for my nipple to heal and even now it still sometimes hurts.
Tears would swell in my eyes, but I would continue to nurse, because it was what I really wanted. I tried to seek help, but even with people hovering over you, prescribing you ointments and lecturing you over and over on proper breastfeeding positions, it isn’t something that just develops overnight.
It is a skill, one that has to be practiced and honed.
There have been numerous studies that say women stop breastfeeding around the same times that natural growth spurts occur because they believe that don’t have enough milk, or become a human pacifier, and there is not enough information to encourage women to continue!
You’re either searching blog sites or forums for this information and trying to self-diagnose. That is even if you get that far, many women just throw in the towel and call it quits because dealing with a new baby screaming at you out of hunger and doing extensive research don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.
Doctors tend to prescribe, and antibiotics sometimes effect milk production, so it is a continuous cycle of stress and heartbreak. Honestly, the best advice I was given was by my midwife, who worked with Dr. Jack Newman for a while and picked up a few great skills doing so.
She told me to have a day, with no visitors and little distraction, and sit with my breasts out to practice! Follow my baby’s lead and if they latch wrong, unlatch them and try again and again and again. It is nature, and your baby knows what they are doing, just let them do it!
You two are embarking on this journey together, don’t forget that. It will no be an easy or simple task and it is important for you not to get overwhelmed or stressed out, because your baby will reflect that stress.
So if you’re beside yourself and in pain, take a deep breath. Once your baby starts to latch properly, all will subside and you will develop a wonderful relationship with your child.
So please, keep at it! You won’t regret breastfeeding and neither will your baby’s health, or your pocket. 😉