When I reflect on the advice and guidance I was given as I struggled to successfully breastfeed my first child, I feel a mix of appreciation and frustration. I had some excellent lactation consultants on my side but more frequently, some real uneducated idiots. My daughter’s pediatrician among them as I’ve mentioned in past posts.
Honestly, as I page through the book pictured above, I want to beat someone senseless for some of the contradictory things I was told. More than anything, I want to slap myself a few times because everything I needed was in there. But would I have known what I didn’t know back then though? I don’t think so.
I think the biggest breastfeeding myth is that it’s this natural thing both you and your child will instinctively know how to do. It’s true that babies will bob around and find the breast, but what happens from there, speaking from my own experience, I can only describe as animal savagery.
It was like a ravenous, colostrum-thirsty vampire/banshee was on my chest. The banshee part is because when the stars didn’t align and my infant daughter couldn’t latch onto my unfortunately ill-shaped nipples, what followed was usually a lot of wailing – both hers and later, as my cracked and bleeding nipples would have it, me. In my firt week home, i probably cried through most feedings as I nursed through the pain as I was advised to do by the same pediatrician who told me matter of factly that “breastfeeding hurts.”
What I came to realize now that I’ve struggled through the tough early infant days with my own two daughters is that breastfeeding success entirely depends on you, the mom, and how much you educate yourself. It doesn’t seem right that there is so little proper education offered to help mothers learn what we need to learn (imagine stacks of encyclopedias here people) to make it work.
And “make it work” is the right phrase. I was at home and able to nurse on demand with my first child. Now? I’m away from my second child for 3 hour chunks of the day while I work a part-time job. It’s in the afternoon when she usually naps, but still. Should I pump while I’m away? Time feedings to before and after I go and come back? How do I prevent my supply from being affected? What’s oversupply?
If I can ever find the time, I’m dying to put together a YouTube series about everything I’ve learned in my struggles with breastfeeding so I can help other moms better prepare for it because I can sincerely share that it’s more than just really great for your baby, it’s such a wonderful thing for you. My daughter Caroline is just a month old, but nursing her in the side-lying position is just about the most amazing thing ever. It’s peaceful, I can relax and the way she snuggles into me after she has finished is just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. I find myself constantly thinking: SAVOR THIS! They grow so quickly and it’s easy to pull out your phone and catch up on Twitter, but staring at my daughter’s beautiful little nose, well… there is limited time for that.
But, I digress. I’ve been lucky to find a lot of wonderful resources in my struggle to breastfeed successfully so I thought I’d compile them here. If I had to offer one bit of advice to expectant mothers, it’s to read up, watch and learn as much as you can about breastfeeding before baby is here. Now is the time. Forget about taking a “breastfeeding class” because most are absolute garbage and show the bare bones basics. Read. Watch tutorials on YouTube. And talk to moms who breastfeed about their experiences.
I read somewhere that breastfeeding used to be something moms just did, so girls grew up having seen their mothers and aunts doing it, no big deal. But once it went out of vogue, where did you learn? This is one reason I’m really vocal and open about nursing. It could be something that comes back and having had such a wonderful experience with nursing my first child, it’s something I’d love to help more women be able to feel confident enough to experience too.
Some of my favorite breastfeeding resources
– The Leaky Boob — here
(their Facebook page carried me through my first year of nursing)
– The Boob Group podcast — here
– Overactive Letdown — here
– Surviving a Nursing Strike — here
– 14 Ways to Hack Your Pumping Routine — here