I've heard many of times about how difficult breast feeding can be. Many mothers struggle for days, weeks, even months in their quest to breast feed their babies. Unfortunately it may be too much of a struggle to continue. Sometimes it is not feasible for the mother to keep on breast feeding. Some may eventually exclusively pump, or go to formula to feed their babies. Some mothers don't choose to breast feed from the very beginning. Others want to breast feed more than anything, but just can't make it work because of a lack of support.
I think it helps to know up front that it may be a challenge for a mother and baby to learn the ropes of breast feeding. I also think it helps to know ahead of time that it may be painful at times as well. I've heard stories from women that assumed it would be easy, and had no idea that it would ever hurt. These are the women that are sometimes stopped dead in their tracks when it becomes challenging or painful to breast feed. I feel bad speaking to women that didn't know about what they were getting into, and I hope that more women learn about breast feeding before they start.
My motto is usually "prepare for the worst, but hope for the best." I had heard numerous times that breast feeding was "easy" and "natural" and that I would have no problems. I also heard about difficulties. I figured I would hope it would be easy for myself and our baby, but I wanted to learn about what to do if it wasn't so easy for us.
My husband and I went to a breast feeding class. It was informative, and helpful. I had heard that having your support system attend the class is helpful, so that they understand the difficulties later. I didn't want to be a sobbing mess over a crying baby and have my husband looking at me like I was insane. We heard lots of explanation about what my body will be going through when producing milk, and it really helped us understand. There were also plenty of printed materials for us to take home, and use in the future. I happily added those to our Baby Binder.
I would also recommend that struggling mothers speak to mothers that have gone through it. Mothers that have had a baby recently may be the most helpful for asking questions, as their memories might be a lot more fresh. If you don't have any women in your life that have experience with this, you could go online for help.
Facebook has many breast feeding support groups that you can join, where women ask questions and offer support. These are women that you don't know in real life, so it may be easier for you to ask uncomfortable questions. It may also feel less awkward to ask those questions that you think are "stupid" questions, because you aren't face to face. You could also "like" Kelly Mom on Facebook, where links to articles will be posted and women will converse back and forth.
The Kelly Mom website is my favorite. There are so many helpful articles to read through, you can really educate yourself well with this website. You may have heard of the La Leche League organization. The La Leche League website is also very helpful. There are many articles on this site, as well as a great forum where you can speak with other mothers to get advice. This site may also help you find a Lactation Consultant in your area.
Working with a Lactation Consultant may be your best bet in the long run. You may even be lucky enough to have one work with you while you're still in the hospital. The earlier you work with a LC, the better off you may be. Having someone working with you in a hands-on manner can take a lot of the uncertainty out of your mind, and you know that they are an expert with breast feeding. What could be better? Check with your hospital about this ahead of time, so that you know what to expect.
Overall, don't be afraid to ask for help! You are not alone. You are not the only woman struggling with this. Reach out. Both you and your baby will be better off.
If you're interested in following my breast feeding journey, you can find me on Twitter @DawnMarieMcG and I look forward to seeing you online!
You have stumbled upon a blog post participating in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt 2012! The more participating blog posts you read, the better your chances of winning the grand prize. If you're interested in reading blogs from parents who do have experience in breast feeding, please take a look! Here are a few you should peek at: Really Rachel, fipeacock, Circus Queen, and The Secret Life of Kate. Also, check out School of Babywearing - We're a social enterprise promoting babywearing & running accredited babywearing training as well as publishing free resources. We're very keen to promote babywearing as a way of supporting breastfeeding - both by keeping baby close & being able to see their feeding cues & by offering additional discretion/hands free support.
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