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10 Things You Should Know About Your First Week of Breastfeeding

Posted by on April 25, 2012

artist unknown

I feel like one of the reasons that women often do not breastfeed as long as they potentially could is due to the fact that they are not always given the most honest information about what breastfeeding will be like during the first few days of nursing.  I think because so many doctors, midwives, pediatricians, mothers and friends want a woman to breastfeed as long as possible, they often sugarcoat the reality of breastfeeding in order to persuade a new mother to give it a try.

And that really isn’t fair.  It is especially unfair when that new mom feels like a failure because she is having pain, discomfort and uncertainty while doing something that everyone else described as simple, easy and the best thing to do for your baby.  That is when dishonesty leads to fewer babies being breastfed to 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and beyond.

I was very lucky as I had a solid breastfeeding support group.  Formula was totally alien and foreign to me, so the thought of learning how to formula feed just seemed bizarre to me.  But I realize that some women don’t have that same support group.  And successful breastfeeding requires support.  It really does.

So here is my top 10 list of things mothers should know about that first week of breastfeeding.

1.  That first latch might hurt a bit…and by might I mean it probably will.  And that is totally OK and NORMAL.  It will get better and eventually, when done properly, won’t hurt at all.

2.  People are going to see your boobs.  It will happen.  Lactation consultants, relatives, friends etc. are all probably going to see some skin while you are at the hospital and during your first several months of breastfeeding somewhat constantly.  Trust me, this will be the one time nobody will care that your tatas are hanging out in a room full of people.  Your new baby will be a thousand times more interesting.

3.  Your milk might not “come in” right away, even if you have been leaking during your pregnancy.  Don’t freak out if it hasn’t shown up in full on your little one’s birthday.  Give it a few days.  Your baby will be fine noshing on colostrum in the meantime.

4.  Don’t stress yourself out about your milk coming in.  The majority of women in this world are able to breastfeed.  Stressing yourself out over your supply will not help your supply at all.  Remember, supply is just part of the equation.  You also need demand.  The more you allow your baby to nurse, the more milk your body will create to meet his/her demand.  See more information about supply in the resources section listed below.

5.  When your milk does come in, it might be uncomfortable…and by might I mean it probably will.  And that is totally OK and NORMAL.  Yes, your boobs will grow to be even more ginormous than they already have grown to be, but they will die back down once your supply and demand levels out.

6.  Yes, your baby is going to want to camp out at your boobs.  And that is totally normal and OK.  Yes, if you talk to a woman who formula feeds, the amount of time your baby eats in comparison to her’s is going to seem like a lot.  But you cannot compare the two.  A baby breastfeeds to eat, establish milk supply and for comfort.  A baby is given a bottle to eat only and has no supply to establish.  You really cannot compare the two, so don’t.

7.  Having a baby want to nurse ALL. DAY. LONG. is frustrating.  If this is your first child, you are probably use to being able to do things when you want to and are probably not use to having an extra appendage that cries, poops, sleeps and eats all day long.  It is OK to feel frustrated because just like your labor did not last forever, this stage will not last forever either.  Allow yourself to feel frustrated and take breaks when you need them.

8.  Just like that first latch may have hurt, the next several dozen will probably hurt too.  But this is what you need to pay attention to.  During that first week and possibly beyond, each initial latch may hurt, but once your baby gets going, the pain should reduce and eventually go away.  If that initial sting, that can at times knock the wind out of you, lasts through an entire feed, you probably have a bad latch.  A lactation consultant can be a great resource for you if you are struggling with latching issues  .

9.  Engorgement.  I won’t lie.  Engorgement is kind of a bitch.  Having your boobs balloon up and ache from your milk coming in sucks.  But this is again all part of supply and demand.  I have always allowed my babies to nurse on demand and have yet to feel engorged for more than a few days.  Pumping, showering and hand expression are all tricks that I have used to ease engorgement in addition to nursing on demand.

10.  Let down pain is a type of shooting/tingling pain that you will feel in your boobs when your milk is literally letting itself down to feed.  Again, it feels uncomfortable, but the discomfort is allayed once you feed your child.  With both of my children, I eventually quit having any sort of letdown pain whatsoever.

Breastfeeding is like anything else in the world.  It has a learning curve.  There is a bit of a science to it.  It comes easier to some than others.  But if you put in the work, you and your baby can and will reap it’s benefits.

I am not a doctor, a lactation consultant or anything else that requires a fancy title.  But I have successfully breastfed my firstborn for a year, and I am 11 months in to breastfeeding my second child.  Despite having breastfeeding support, the number one thing that has allowed me to be successful at breastfeeding is my attitude.  I never looked at it as something that I would “just try.”  I looked at it as something that would just become a part of my life.  And it did.

All the advice in the world will not guarantee that a woman will have a successful breastfeeding experience.  But what will almost always guarantee that a woman fails at breastfeeding is not being honest about what the journey will be like.  It can be a rough road.  Things will hurt.  At times, you will probably feel awkward or uncomfortable.  But such is life in general.

Remember, everything in life is temporary.  The pain and discomfort will subside and your baby will thrive on your milk whether you breastfeed for a day, a week, a month or a year.

Resources:

The Normal Course of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Challenges in the Early Days (Resources)

Milk Supply

Baby Explains- Normal Newborn Behavior

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to dispense medical advice.

 

 

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FrankieButler 5 pts

Great article! Also good to be wary of taking 'normal' weight gains too literally - natural fits and starts in growth are normal! A few weeks of not gaining weight or loosing weight can be the straw that breaks the camels back. But I think it's important to remember that it is extremely rare for new bubs not to do well, even if they are feeding nearly constantly they are in fact obtaining milk, even if slowly, and doing well. Besides, even an extended period of adjustment (as can occur relatively frequently for bubs delivered by c-sect) can be easily overcome several weeks down the track when a growth spurt occurs. For me with first bub it took three months (yes months) before I was comfortable. But from that point on it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I am ever thankful I persevered. Not sure where you are - in Australia we have the Australian Breastfeeding Association you can call any time, they were a great source of support for me.  

bramphilip 5 pts

#7 is the one thing I wish I had been told, definitely.  Although every single one of the things on the list is true!

BronwynST 7 pts

1.  Plan on sticking it out for 6 to 8 weeks.  This was the best advice I ever received and it was a short term goal I could hold onto when mastitis and blistered nips set in.  Both my kiddos nursed for well over 2 years and I wouldn't trade that experience and bond for anything.   

2. Have a lactation consultant and LLL on speed dial BEFORE you give birth.  Attend LLL meeting BEFORE you give birth.  Call for help at the first and tiniest sign of trouble or just simple uncertainty.  This will save you sooooooo much grief.3. Know the early signs of mastitis and how to stop it fast.

4. If it hurts, seek help immediately from an experienced LLL leader.

5.  If you have been successful be there for at least 3 other women.  "Nurse it forward."  One of my best nursing experience was helping my best friend stick it out through the sucky part.  She soooo wanted to quit but a few months later thanked me for pushing her and supporting her through it all.  Soooo happy I still had all my nursing references.

 

rebeccamenglish 7 pts

 BronwynST What a fabulous list! And so true, I especially resonated with number 2. People thought we were weird for seeing an IBCLC before the birth, on our ob's midwife's advice but it was the best decision, and couple of hundred dollars, we made prior to the birth.

cbplaner 32 pts moderator

 BronwynST Love, love, love the idea of nurse it forward!

BelleKellan 6 pts

I love your list! Wish someone had told me about the letdown pain, though - that was surprising. Now that my daughter is nearly 11 months, I haven't felt it in over (probably well over, but I'm being conservative in my estimate) 3 months. I'm glad you had some awesome support - so many of us don't have any or we don't have the kind we need (and we all know that's almost the same as having none). The baby camping out at my boobs *still* hasn't stopped, lol! OK, it has, but there are times I feel as if I've done nothing but nurse my daughter all day. And she's been on table food since 6 1/2 months! As for people seeing boobage, and often, I only wish my "support" system had been more relaxed about that. Now, I really don't have to worry about it - I'm in a place where I'm comfy enough to feed my daughter anywhere in the house and I don't feel the need to cover up. I try to be as discrete as possible, but flashing someone no longer stresses me out. She's a baby and she's hungry/in need of mama comfort and I'm gonna give her what she needs. If others can't handle that, they can look the other way. Gotta say though, in that department, I've been incredibly lucky. The only comments I've gotten from strangers on BFing in public have all been positive. It was especially cute when my daughter took a break from feeding to burp and stood up with her head poking out of the nursing cover and a little boy at another table started "playing" with her from across the way. I simply acted like nothing was out of the ordinary, and those around me tended to follow my lead.

AmandaCrews 7 pts

Love the list.  As a nurse in an OBGYN office, not anymore now I am home with babies, I would always tell the moms to be that it is no picnic.  It isn't easy, but it is short lived pain.  I told everyone I know that the first 2 weeks is awful, then it calms a bit.  I think the statement it should be natural and easy is mean spirited.  I had a helluva time with my oldest.  He didn't want to latch at all.  My daughter came out looking for the boob, but she is for sure the eater of the family, and a chunky monkey at that.   I also know plenty of women, and from my own experience with my son, that supply and demand only go so far.  It can't always be dependent on you.  Formula is not the devil, but I truly wish every momma would put forth their best effort because it is a bonding experience like no other, not to mention the health aspects.

I am a big anti WIC person, in that it undermines breastfeeding so badly.  At the OBGYN office, so many babies were breastfed when their parents lived outside of the country, but when they were here they were bottle fed because it was an option.  If the option wasn't there, or at least harder to get to, I do believe more women would do their best to make this work.

MarySiever 6 pts

Good post. All of these things are true, having breastfed solid for the last 13.5 years, I fully agree with all of this.

black_starr_5 5 pts

By which I mean, colostrum SHOULD be enough for your baby. If it isn't, and your baby isn't gaining, or worse, is LOSING, there could be something wrong. I've seen pyloric stenosis in 2 babies this year, and I live in a small community.

black_starr_5 5 pts

Also, let me just say that, if your baby is NOT thriving on your colostrum, don't just pooh-pooh that. Happened to a friend of mine. She was worried because her milk didn't come in for 5 days, she wound up on meds (blah), but in the end, the baby wasn't gaining because he had pyloric stenosis!

cutiefruity 6 pts

Things I never knew that were complete surprises: 1) Milk lets down from the boob not being used, too. 3 days out, milk came in, I was totally drenched on one side.2) Afterpains: during breastfeeding after the birth, abdominal muscles contract to push the breast milk out. Since your body is all stretched out from carrying a baby, it hurts. a lot. And it gets worse with each kid.

JanetMB 5 pts

 cutiefruity

 You are right about milk flowing from the breast not being used at a feeding, Therefore it is good to be prepared with an absorbent cloth (ie: a diaper) or with a container to save that milk for the freezer. If you want to freeze your milk, I suggest you read La Leche League's book "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" on how to properly collect and store your milk.

As for #2 Afterpains: Breastfeeding causes the Uterus to contract (yes, it feels like your whole abdomen) because it needs to get back to it's original size and to become firm so you stop bleeding. The abdominal muscles do not have the capibility of pushing your milk out. It is the let down reflex (caused  by baby suckling at the breast or even just thinking about the baby doing so, such as when baby cries) which occurs in the breasts .  Once the uterus is back to it's normal size, you will no longer get the Uterine cramping. This is also all explained in layman's terms in "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" a book well worth buying or borrowing from the library of your local La Leche League chapter.

 

From a Former La Leche League Leader and Registered Nurse.

SarahAngelina 9 pts

Fantastic list! I am currently nursing my third baby...ok, toddler, nearly 16 months old. My sister is expecting her first baby this summer, so I forwarded this to her.

mama2monkeys 10 pts

I think the thing I hear people most surprised/irritated by is the breastfeeding all. day. long. thing. Yes. It happens. And it may/probably will last 3-6 weeks. But by that point it usually tames down. The good part about this is that 1. if forces you to "rest". 2. It gives you great bonding time. If you get bored, read a book. 3. Having a super clean house and all your laundry done will never happen from this day forward, and this is a good break in period. Get used to it. (Or call your mom/MIL for backup. It's acceptable during this time because you're "recuperating." TAKE ALL THE HELP  YOU CAN GET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

 

The myth you touched on that I really wish would be dispelled is the whole romanticism of it all. If you are of the "i wanna bf" camp and not the "oo gross" camp, it's easy to get the notion that it's "natural" and should come naturally. (Raise our hand if you saw that video in childbirth class of the newborn baby crawling up it's mother and finding her nipple. SO. NOT. reality.) Nothing about bf-ing is easy or familiar or natural... at first. I always say you should give yourself a 6 week trial period. After that, *then* evaluate how you feel about it.

 

And true - if you are experiencing a lot of pain, cracked nipples, bleeding, etc as you continue to nurse, seek help. 

 

And finally, if  you've just had enough for that day, don't beat yourself up over choosing sleep and handing your hubby a bottle of formula and letting him know it's his turn to feed the baby. Formula vs breast milk is like choosing organic veggies over regular ones. Still a better choice that Mountain Dew.

cbplaner 32 pts moderator

 mama2monkeys I find myself romanticizing all of it since I have now been doing for so long that I feel a bit like a pro.  Yesterday, my friend who was nursing her baby for the first time remarked that it hurt, and I was like "Oh, yeah.  It does hurt.  In fact, it is going to hurt a whole lot more for a bit."  I think it is better to be honest and warm and fuzzy any day of the week :)

BrianneBabb 10 pts

 mama2monkeys I really disagree. I had absolutely no problem nursing my first child. None. I had a c-section and they brought him to me when I stopped writhing in pain and we football hold-ed it and right on he went. It SHOULD be easy and natural. My oldest was tongue tied and still fed easily. My second nursed constantly, preferring me to a pacifier right up until he weaned at two, I did experience friction blisters on my nipples 3 days pp, but they cleared up within a day. The only time I have had issues was with my first natural birthed child, baby #3. And  we mostly struggled due to an incomplete valve on his esophagus and acid reflux. But the nursing was natural for us, it was he just couldn't keep the contents of his stomach where they belonged. Also, formula is to breast milk as processed, canned, and heavily salted/buttered/microwaved veggies are to organic veggies. Still a better choice but not a decent one compared to breast milk. Hubby can feed a bottle of breast milk just as easily. I don't mean to bash but that is quite a difference, it should only be used when medically necessary, there are other options. I do agree about the 6 weeks thing, though. That was initially my goal with my oldest and we went to 14 months.

cbplaner 32 pts moderator

 BrianneBabb  mama2monkeys I think the phrase "it should be natural and easy" is unfair.  For you it was.  For me it was.  But if you examine the stats of the length of time that babies are breastfed in the US, it seems as though for many women it is not. 

teslchick 8 pts

Lucky for you it was easy.  Me-- not so much...  My midwife, and weekly visits to the lactation consultant-- I just had no supply.  2 herbs and a prescription-- nothing changed.  DS was losing weight.  I felt like shit because I couldn't do something as "simple and natural" as feeding my own son.  DS' latch was fine.  skin to skin, all that stuff...  I did everything I was told and still nothing...  I ended up pumping what I could (double electric pump) and supplementing with breastmilk for about 4 months...  All that pumping and feeding-- I was able to pump about 10 oz. A DAY.  So while I appreciate that it was a great experience for you, it doesn't  mean that it will be simple and natural experience for anyone else.  and IMO, comparing formula to overprocessed veggies-- true or not-- is judgmental and not supportive of other moms.  If my choice is formula or starving my baby, sorry-- but formula it is.

BrianneBabb 10 pts

 teslchick Again I said it's for medical reasons and a better choice than starving, so you had a very good reason. I would like to note though that there are other options than just your milk and formula. I would obviously give my children processed veggies if that was all I had. It's a better choice than starving, still there are better options where available.

BelleKellan 6 pts

I've done both formula and breastmilk. I've learned a LOT along the way - such as, yes, formula IS better than allowing a baby to starve or great if medically necessary. But all of the other options I've learned about can be truthfully stated as being better for the baby than formula is. As for the science...how can science outrank mother nature or God? Can't. Ever.I'm not standing in judgment of anyone. You did what you felt was best - I applaud you on that decision! When I had to switch my 1 month old son from breast to bottle, I bawled like a baby while buying the formula. And let me tell you, that's really the only other option I knew of - if I'd known about the deceitfulness of formula companies back then, I'd have found an entirely different way to feed him! Formula isn't sterile - so in order to kill the most germs and create the least likelihood of your child getting sick from it, you *have* to prepare it with boiling water, then allow it to cool down. Yet at least one company has been caught saying that lukewarm water is the way to prepare formula and how safe that was. That's just one example - I learned this from researching the topic...maybe it would be a good idea for you to do as well. Since I didn't know about that going into FFing my son, he got Similac - one of the heaviest formulas and therefore the most likely to result in SIDS. Again, NOT something I knew then but am so glad I know now!!!!On to my 10, almost 11, month old daughter: she has been almost exclusively BFed until 4 months (the occasional formula bottle supplement - again, Similac), and we are still in a fantastic nursing relationship to this day. The beginning was a FIGHT. I had to battle exhaustion, her constant popping off just because she didn't like her latch (she didn't like the whole areola in her mouth), nursing every hour...on the hour...for an hour, and many other factors made me want to give up. I didn't have true support. I'm a single mom of two. Stress levels had sky-rocketed the first few months after my daughter's birth. The letdown pain came as a surprise out of left field. But, through it all, I persevered. Even through being made to feel bad for wanting my daughter to wean herself (when SHE decides to stop nursing, up to age 5 - I hope it'll be earlier than that, though), we kept going. And we're still going!The point is, bottom line, breastmilk is what a human baby is *meant* to eat, grow, and thrive on. In the event that facet of baby-rearing stops being an option, it's not an either/or deal - there's goat's milk, other mom's milk, or even horse's milk (research is needed!). Just research them if you ever have to decide this topic again, and you can't go wrong. All you need is ALL the info on ALL the options. =)

mama2monkeys 10 pts

 BrianneBabb How awesome that you had no problems. That's a great feeling and how wonderful to start off without any hitches. BUT... your attitude is one of superiority and condemnation, and makes other moms, who are trying to do the best THEY can, feel like total shit. Anyone who intentionally  makes another mom feel like a bad mom is, in my book, sad. Why cut others down? Just offer HELPFUL, SUPPORTIVE advice. We're all doing the best that we can.

 

I bfed FIVE of my FIVE children. My intention was a year though some of them self weaned (due to pregnancy?) a little earlier. I distinctly remember feeling awkward and not at all natural the first time for sure, and even momentarily with subsequent children. The fourth, for whom I was comfortable with? Gave me fits like you wouldn't believe. And every frickin doctor and lact consultant tried to convince me that it was MY milk supply that was bad. NO ONE gave any credit to my mother's instinct, and my precious 30 some odd months of bfing experience, that there was something wrong the the suck of my child, and I was given *all kinds* of bad advice. Finally, as difficult of a choice as it was, I had to make the choice that benefited my entire family and give it up. It was heartbreaking, but my 3-4 mo old baby was still wearing NEWBORN clothing, his eyes were buggy and his cheeks were gaunt. Because it wasn't natural to him and he couldn't get his mouth to be coordinated enough to bf. (Even bottle feeding took forever - 2oz took an HOUR). I chose to make sure my child had nutrients he needed to SURVIVE. (And no, I couldn't pump. I barely got anything out, and the 20 minutes I would spend every 2 hrs around the clock was exhausting me, and not worth it for less than one bottle full - total.) It was too great a price to pay for my sanity and the mom I needed to be for my other kids. Formula was a GOOD choice for me then.

 

Formula should NOT be equated to processed / buttered / microwaved veggies. A lot of science goes into making formula as close to bm as possible. For some, bfing is not an option (varying factors like employment or medical, also not to discount desire as some ppl just dont wanna). Many many thriving intelligent people walking around today who were formula fed. Plenty of unhealthy idiots who were bfed, too.

 

Be kind, and maybe check your horse. Your blessed reality is not the reality for everyone.

 

teslchick 8 pts

mama2monkeys-- thanks for sharing your experiences-- and for writing what I couldn't quite put into words :-)

BrianneBabb 10 pts

 mama2monkeys

As close to breast milk as possible, still doesn't even come close. For those who can't breastfeed there are other, and better options apart from formula, that also goes for those who can not pump. Do not presume to know my attitude from a post. I do not feel superior and certainly would not condemn, my closest friend and my sister both had severe issues with breastfeeding(extreme let down sever over production and a breast that simply stopped producing milk). Just stating truths. It should be easy and natural, not "it is for everyone".

 

I am well aware that many healthy intelligent people were formula fed, as I am one of them(presumptuous and egotistical, I know). I simply stated fact that it is no where near breast milk in any way shape or form.

 

I must be daft, I can not comprehend anyone finding breastfeeding unnatural, yes there is a learning curve for most, figuring it out especially now that most of us were formula fed and our mothers can give us real advise on the subject, and most LC are impersonal and often downright rude and unhelpful. But to find it unnatural is to not believe in your bodies ability to nurture it's own offspring, to not trust in it's natural biological functions. I am sorry for your hard experiences, that must have been very hard.

mama2monkeys 10 pts

 BrianneBabb Until reading some of the other responses, I was unaware of other options for feeding (besides bm banks, and I would have needed to rob a bank for that. lol). Thanks to the other ladies who posted those.

 

If these are such great options, why have I never heard of them? Why aren't they being talked about more. That info about formula not being sterile??? People need to talk more. I think some of that stuff isn't really readily avail though. Horse milk? That's kind of a joke. Seriously, who has access to that, and have you ever seen a horse being milked? lol (The image of that makes me laugh.)

 

While I think your opinion/belief about bfing is probably similiar to mine, I have taken issue with some of your language, and not just from the first post. So sorry if I'm presuming, but its based on your language with words like "should" and "cannot comprehend." Should is just a bad word in a lot of contexts. Marriage "should" be easy. haha. If ONLY! Life is never that easy or cut and dried. So while you may have strong opinions about the quality of formula, or the nature of bf, isn't it hurtful to not tender your words a bit? For women who want to bf and can't, it's a sense of failure. For women who chose not to, it's offensive to essentially call what they feed their baby "crap," and in essence calling them crappy moms. Maybe you just don't see how you're coming across, and how it might be offensive to others. If you "cannot comprehend" another's pov, try harder. Listen more. Withhold judgment.

 

As for bfing being natural, you misread what I wrote. (And again used condescending language.) I never said that bfing wasn't natural, I said it didn't FEEL natural. Having never before bfed, it felt awkward and uncomfortable. And trust me, when someone else besides your husband is inspecting your boob, pinching your nipple and trying to shove it into someone else's mouth, well, as comical as that all sounds, it doesn't *feel* one bit natural. And while I enjoy my husband sucking my boobs, it's not quite the same thing as a baby doing that for nurishment, and certainly not all day. lol It's like riding a bike or walking. It takes practice and some getting used to. The act, the sensation, the audience, having your boobs in the air 23 hrs a day, the positioning, and so on. The act itself in concept - the feeding of your child, the biological function - is totally natural, and I fully believe in the body's ability to do it. Our bodies are made to do it. (Just like vaginal birth. So why do so many women, incl yourself, have c-sec? - That's rhetorical and not judgmental, though some ppl do, as well as some women feel like a failure for needing a C. Don't feel like you don't need to expln yourself.) Sometimes they can, but sometimes they can't. Just like all babies are supposed to be made to know how to suck, some do, some don't. I totally believe, with determination, good counsel, practice and time, 99% women and babies "should" be able to bf, even if only for a short time. And if they don't or can't, it's ok. They're no less of a mom, no less of a good mom. We need to cultivate more togetherness and encouragement as parents regardless of our choices, and stop thinking that "my way" is the best/only right way to do something. Just spread the love, man. 

BrianneBabb 10 pts

 mama2monkeys I get I come across as harsh. My feelings on the subject are harsh. I believe formula should only be used for what it was created for. Not for convenience but for true medical reasons. The fact that I can't understand someones feelings is not condescending. I have tried to understand and I can not. It's fact. I don't feel superior, I simply don't get it.I don't feel the need to explain my c-sections but I will anyway because I love the ending. Breech position-planned (unnecessary) c-section, Cord compression- emergency c-section, Perfect- Planned vaginal birth.

funkylittleearthchild 7 pts

 BrianneBabb "It SHOULD be easy and natural."    THIS attitude from other mothers is why some breastfeeders fail. Breastfeeding is normal and natural, but some mothers experience difficulty. Let's embrace them and help them work their difficulties instead of telling them it should be easy and natural. I, myself, found breastfeeding to be extremely easy. I nursed my son for 3 years without problems. I am currently nursing my 8 month old and plan to do so until she weans herself. I have had zero problems nursing. However, I would NEVER dare to tell another mother it should be easy and natural. I have counseled over 100 women when it comes to breastfeeding and I can tell you that quite a few do have difficulties and they are very rare. It is language like yours that put doubts in their heads when they hit a breastfeeding roadblock. I don't mean to bash either, but I couldn't refrain from speaking up.

BrianneBabb 10 pts

 funkylittleearthchild I certainly did not mean that if you found it not easy you have failed, I simply meant that going into it with the belief that it is natural(which it is hands down, no ifs, ands, or buts) and easy it should be. It SHOULD be, not it is for everyone.

cbplaner 32 pts moderator

 BrianneBabb  I don't think that was your intent.  I think it can be hard to decipher tone sometimes online.  Thanks for clarifying ;)

funkylittleearthchild 7 pts

 BrianneBabb  I understand that, but using the language that is should be natural and easy throws new mothers and mothers with breastfeeding difficulty off. They hear what it SHOULD be and when it's not that way for them they may not seek out help, may get frustrated and may give up. Many mothers go into it with the belief that it's natural and should be easy, but that is not always the reality and some of them find shame in having trouble with something that we say should be natural and easy, so they quit.

CarmenG 10 pts

 funkylittleearthchild I understand what Brianne was trying to say (I think).  It's the cultural mindset.  Yes, it should be natural.  But sadly our society is so far removed from our natural biological functions that breastfeeding is a big ordeal.  This is no fault of the individual mother, it's the culture in which we've been raised.  Any mother having difficulty should not feel "less than" or degraded by mothers for whom breastfeeding was easy.  It's not a comparison issue.  Every situation is different.  Every mom/baby pair is different.  There are many things that come into play with breastfeeding difficulties. 

 

I've had it both ways.  2 easy breastfeeding experiences, 2 terrible breastfeeding experiences.  Interestingly my first 2 were the ones that were easy and came "naturally".  My 3rd and 4th were the ones that I had problems with and by that time I had been nursing over 4 years and was a CLC and  LLL leader already.  Having difficulty breastfeeding is not "failure".  Supplementing with formula out of desperation to see your baby gain some weight (rather than continue to lose it) is not "failure".  So many moms carry so much guilt over their challenges to nurse, and in response become very defensive when faced with stories of "easy" breastfeeding or when hearing the truth that formula is sorely lacking.  

 

The fact is some mom/baby pairs have an easy go of it and some don't.  Some choose to supplement with formula, some pump every drop they can get.  We all do the best we can in the face of our circumstance.  I led LLL meetings and taught breastfeeding classes while holding my baby and bottlefeeding her.  Was I a hypocrite?  No.  Was I giving mixed messages?  No.  I was doing the best I could in my situation.  My baby needed to eat.  Period.  And my students got an excellent education on breastfeeding challenges and ways to cope and eventually overcome.  My youngest didn't nurse until she was 4 months old, and I had to be on meds and herbs to have even the most minimal milk supply.  Did we fail at breastfeeding? Not at all!  She nursed until she was 2 years old and although she did not get all the milk from me, she got everything I had and had the benefit of the comfort of nursing.  

 

The discord on the topic of breastfeeding is so saddening.  If we can break down the walls of defensiveness, guilt, misunderstanding and blame we would go much further in supporting all nursing mothers.  

BelleKellan 6 pts

 BrianneBabb Perhaps, instead of stating that there are other, different options than breastfeeding and formula feeding, you actually name them, it would be more helpful.Here's what I know of:

1. Goat's milk - the best to get is unpasteurized, organic

2. I've *heard* horse's milk is better than formula for human babies, but other than seeing a dr quoted as saying so, I have no knowledge on the topic3. Other mom's pumped milk (milk banks, direct milk sharing)

BecEnglish 8 pts

Great! I wish I had read numbers 6 and 7 about 10 months ago, I wouldn't have felt so guilty about feeling frustrated! It's fabulous though, nothing settles like nursing. We went to a funeral, with full Catholic mass this week. Other babies were unsettled but my bf baby nursed and slept and her mamma drank in all the "what a fabulous baby!" comments!

cbplaner 32 pts moderator

 BecEnglish I nursed during Toy Story on Ice.  Every person who gave me the stink eye when I sat down with a 4 month old baby was gobsmacked at the end of the show when he never made a peep :)