The reality of Learning How to Breastfeed


3 min read

Anyone who knows me know that I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding.  I mean why should you pay for something second rate when the first rate thing is free?

Most mothers even if they don't live an organic lifestyle understand that breastmilk is the healthiest, most extraordinary milk for their little babies.

 However, there are many factors around breastfeeding that make many mothers give up on the idea within a couple of days of having their child. During the first 3 days your baby doesn't need much so you won't produce much, but for many moms they struggle to produce anything. They get stressed out which ofcourse doesn't help and their babies are hungry so they struggle to sleep. No one wants to see their child cry out of hunger so we tend to introduce the bottle at this time. Even if you are a mom who has found success in terms of milk flow you may face issues such as sore nipples from you baby not latching properly or blocked milk ducts that feel like bricks in your breast. There are so many realistic things that may happen to turn you off breastfeeding completely.

The fact is, for most moms especially if this is their first child, breastfeeding is a STRUGGLE! I think we do a misjustice to many moms out there by not being honest about the woes of learning how to breastfeed. So when they encounter these issues they give up even quicker because they don't realize how common their struggle is and how many moms have gotten past it successfully. Knowing this can be all the difference for many moms who really want to breastfeed but think they can't.

 I haven't read many articles that honestly talk about what an expectant mother may go through once she starts breastfeeding. Maybe, it is to not scare you from doing it all? I don't know. What I do, is that this is something most moms unknowingly think is going to be easy , so they don't need to do much research about it and struggle like HELL!

I will be perfectly honest with you, your success rate on breastfeeding depends largely on the support you have around it. Whether it be a lactations consultant, a midwife or a family member who has recent experience, just having someone with knowledgeable support makes all the difference

It is important to note that there is a huge difference between someone yelling 'you should breastfeed' and someone who says 'try these positions so that you are more comfortable breastfeeding'. That person just yelling you should breastfeed might unknowingly make you not want to breastfeed at all because of the pressure they are putting on you. And you might not take their words as seriously as you should, because they have lost credibility in your eyes because they have no real advice for you in regards of breastfeeding. 

For many moms facing this great shift in sleep habits and breast that don't seem to be working- quitting sure seems attractive. My one response to that is do you think from here  on doing what's  best for child will always come easy to you? The fact is many things in motherhood will not come easy to you or your child. So be patient with yourself and understand that your child is just a few days old and needs time to learn a new skill just like you do. Breastfeeding is truly a team effort of you and your baby. Sometimes your baby may struggle more than other babies and sometimes you may struggle more than other mothers. And trust me, many mother with newborns are indeed struggling.

It is also very important that you understand that  every great team needs a great coach. This is the part that people so often also forget to include. It is very hard to be successful at breastfeeding without any coaching. The better the coach, the better your success rate.

So if your intention is to breastfeed, look around as to whom can be that support person for you. This can be a close friend, family member, lactation consultant or midwife.

That person must be physically there because breastfeeding can honestly be physically demanding. This person should know things like different feeding positions to support milk flow and latching, how to get the baby off your sensitive nipples easily, techniques to help with blocked milk ducts, and pain relief etc. 

 I was fortunate enough to have a great mid-wife in Germany who supported me for the first 12 weeks of my child's life. It's a great program put forth by the German government to support new moms that I honestly think should be incorporated in other parts of the world. At no cost to me, she was absolutely essential in my breastfeeding success - if it were not for her constant motivation and knowledge I know I would have given up completely.

So, new moms out there, if you are reading this. Don't give up! You are not alone in your struggle and there is no shame in the struggle. The struggle is actually quite common.

Just like learning most everything else, it will take lots of effort initially and get much easier for both of you in time. Doing a combination of formula and breastfeeding is not bad if necessary, just try to breastfeed as much as possible because that is how your body will know how much to produce. Don't be ashamed or too proud to ask for support on this matter if you need it.

Best of LUCK!!

Sincerely Keithan

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