Breastfeeding is the natural way our body is designed to nourish our babies, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy. I clearly remember crying the third day of my daughter’s life in frustration and pain because she just could not seem to latch on correctly. Having my mom there to support and encourage me was key to finding the strength and resolve to keep on when it just seemed impossible. She was there when I felt overwhelmed to call La Leche League for me and get advice. They suggested Dr. Jack Newman’s website and videos and after seeing another baby latch on that had a mouth smaller than my daughter’s, I knew she could do it. I also spoke to a lactation consultant on the phone who suggested I try the football hold which was the only way I could get her to latch correctly for awhile. It was definitely a chore for the first couple months but we kept on and eventually, it became a breeze and turned into a beautiful relationship (that continued until almost her third birthday.)
Some of the things that I did prenatally to prepare for breastfeeding where:
- attend a breastfeeding class
- attend a La Leche League meeting
- read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and The Nursing Mother’s Companion
- listened to podcasts from Mommy’s Milk and More and Pregtastic
- talked to many mom’s about breastfeeding experiences
- read lots of birth and pregnancy books with sections on breastfeeding
Of course, you never know what your experience will be like and what obstacles you may encounter so I strongly encourage having a lactation consultant lined up before giving birth. I wish so much I had done this the first time around. I was desperate for help by that third day and wasn’t sure where to turn. Unfortunately, although I gave birth at a birth center, I was transferred after the birth to a hospital and the nurses, although they tried, just did not have know enough about breastfeeding to help me. I wasn’t able to see a lactation consultant (since I gave birth on a Sunday and the lactation consultant only worked during the week) until I was literally on may way out the door. I felt rushed and had people visiting in the room that I was not comfortable with seeing me that intimately when I felt so vulnerable and inadequate but I didn’t speak up and ask that they step out of the room either. Because of that, the most I got out of the visit was she was indeed not latching correctly (which I kept telling everyone although no one believed me) and that I had nipple trauma.I still didn’t know how to actually get her to latch and had no confidence I was going to be able to get her to.
Learn from my experience and kick someone out of the room if they are making you uncomfortable (and have someone else do it for you). Remember, it isn’t about them, it’s about your baby and you. Hopefully they will be understanding and respect your wishes but they can’t know unless you speak up.
A doula can be a great help with breastfeeding as well. Be sure to ask when interviewing if she is able to provide breastfeeding support. Some will even come to your house for postpartum visits which was exactly what I needed and didn’t have with my daughter.
This week, 2 other bloggers also wrote about breastfeeding. Christine from African Babies Don’t Cry shares her post, From Full-time Formula to Exclusive Breastfeeding. She says, “This post is where I share how my son went from being fed formula full time (while I was in ICU) to being exclusively breastfed, and how I managed to get my supply up to meet his demands.” Heather at Musing Mommy writes about overcoming obstacles to meet goals, tandem nursing and nursing through postpartum depression.