Let’s talk about breastfeeding for a moment. This isn’t meant to be a debate post about whether breastfeeding is best, or if formula is ok, or if pumping is an alternative. This is a post for the mother who has decided to breastfeed and it wasn’t what she had dreamed about. Her expectations don’t seem to be living up to her reality and the weight of breastfeeding is currently smacking her in the face, or the boobs…
Breastfeeding is how our ancestors fed their children as infants. It is the most natural biological way to feed babies, so why isn’t it easy? Why doesn’t it come naturally? One way to answer that question is to ask another, how many women did you see breastfeed before you had your first baby? For most women, the answer is ZERO! They had never been allowed to see other women conquer the challenges of breastfeeding and then consequentially, see her reap the benefits. Breastfeeding really is a community builder but we have so shamed and covered up breastfeeding that now we expect women and babies to just understand a skill without ever seeing a demo!! YouTube is great for many things, but it is not meant to walk a woman through her breastfeeding journey.
So, what do we do about it? As a birth and postpartum doula, I walk with women through the beginning of their breastfeeding journey and then help them overcome challenges. First, breastfeeding is a skill. It needs to be learned. Seek out women who have breastfed, ask questions, ask if they would sit with you and talk you through it. Sometimes all the help you need comes from a woman who can help by sitting quietly with you and your baby and guiding you. It doesn’t need to be a big analytical show, just a woman guiding a woman. Most of the time it looks like encouragement. That your baby’s whole life won’t look and feel like those first latches. That at 3:00 AM you’re not alone and you’re not failing.
If you’re struggling to breastfeed and you have decided that this is what you want to do, seek help! Be vulnerable and ask! There are women who will help. You are not alone, and you are a great mom.