I recently was invited to a Breast Feeding class. Now, yes, I explained to them that this was my third child and I had successfully breastfed my two girls already. But they insisted that there was some great information and having a "seasoned" mother could be helpful for the other moms coming. So, I agreed - I can always learn more!
The first words out of the lactation consultants mouth were,
"The first myth about breast feeding is that it hurts." I almost snorted! I held my tongue and waited for her to continue to explain that it does hurt most new moms tho. I mean surely she would not set these new moms who have never breast fed to believe there would be no pain as they learned a new skill?!? Right?!? Wrong!
She went on to explain that with the proper latch breast feeding should not hurt and that pain was a sign you were doing it wrong and that a re-latch was necessary. Although it was hard not to jump in, I waited as she explained how Lactation Consultants had to go through 40 hours of training and she had breastfed her three boys. The first two she mentioned were easy, but she skimmed right over the third! I tried to relax as she explained the proper latch with fish lips and how to break the seal so you don't damage your nipple and tummy to tummy rule, trusting that eventually she would come back to preparing moms that it is a learning process for both their baby and them!
The entire presentation my brain was screaming to warn the moms that myths come from somewhere! Yes, with proper latching it should hurt less maybe, but your nipple has never been sucked like it is about to be! I have heard of so many moms not being able to breastfeed for one reason or another, but I think the biggest problem is not knowing what to expect and giving up because you can't imagine dealing with one more painful latch! I have also heard from seasoned moms that a third kid wouldn't breastfeed for some reason or another. I have yet to meet one myself that said it didn't hurt at first!
Now, yes, for a handful of moms that have babies with angelic latches and who have either a mother or lactation consultant advising from the first latch there may be no real pain associated with breast feeding. Maybe...But what about for the others?! My children could suck paint off a wall and I knew how to properly break a latch, but I guess both my daughters and I were slow learners. The first two weeks were hell both times! After those two weeks we got it and I wouldn't have traded breastfeeding for anything. My nipples toughened up, baby gains head control and your milk subsides from the painful engorgement to the sustainable amount your baby needs. But why do they not tell new moms that the first week is not only crucial (for that colostrum gold) but also the hardest - especially day 3 and 4? I think too many give up because it hurts and therefore they or their baby must be doing something wrong. WRONG! Stick with it - it gets better!!!
You are dealing with so many factors that first week: being sore, training baby to latch, learning your baby's signs, training yourself to wait for the perfect open mouth, learning how to soothe an angry baby enough to get on or back on the breast if you miss their signs and now they are red-faced, waiting for your milk to come in, worrying if they are getting enough/any colostrum, watching bowl movements - yours and baby's, listing for their breathing, engorgement and let down once the milk comes in, and that is just to name the ones I can think of right now. Can we not reassure moms that babies are resilient and can survive on a tsp of colostrum no problem?! Lets share those baby stories about newborns surviving 10 days after an earthquake even though separated from mom - a little dehydrated but alive! Lets remind moms that not every baby's bowl movements will be charting like the book says. There is an ideal, sure, but with babies, exceptions are the rule!
My heart is to be real - Lets set moms up for success instead of failure by giving new moms ALL THE FACTS! How about pumping is great, but your baby being skin to skin is soooooo important (it has saved countless NICU babies' lives), not just for healthy bonding but to also allow your nipple to read whatever anti-bodies your baby needs right from the baby's saliva! Getting a sniffle...no problem your body will sense it and make some anti-bodies just for that - amazing! Save at least a meal a day for that breast if you can. Now, if you are in that 5% that have such severely inverted nipples that you can't latch or your milk never comes in even after a week of regular stimulation and skin-to-skin time, you are off the hook. Our bodies can only do so much. You may be elated by this or be extremely saddened, but I commend you for trying! Breastfeeding isn't for everyone, but I don't want it to be because you weren't given all the facts!
Don't be afraid to get the consultant to come over (the sooner the better yes!) or even another mom who has recently been there! Blessings and may your nipples be toughened quickly!
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....