How to keep your sanity while breastfeeding.
I'm going to start with a bit of a backstory, feel free to skip on down to the actual meat if you want. I think this backstory was told over and over again in my breastfeeding support group, so here we go:
When I started my breastfeeding journey with my daughter, I was:
- In pain
I obviously had never done this before. My husband and I took the breastfeeding preparation class. I read every book there was available. I knew what to do, from a technical, textbook standpoint.
So, here I am, with a new baby after a (traumatic) birth. I wasn't ready for this. I know I'd had 9 months, but she came early and I was very much not ready. I ended up in an OR having a cesarean. This wasn't the plan, I wanted the whole birth experience. I had a doula. We practiced comfort measures. My baby was going to crawl toward my breast in the most natural way possible and latch. The angels would sing, I would be awarded the most amazing breastfeeder award by my midwife; this did not happen.
I'm on a table, arms tied down with monitors, and the nurse just put her on my breast. Hold. The. Phone. OW! That isn't what they said would happen! She latched, that was good, right?
Fast forward what seems like years but in reality only 30 minutes or so. I'm in recovery, haven't eaten, just came out of an OR. I can't feel any part of my body from the waist down....the nurse comes in to help me feed my baby.
"Just make your breast like a hamburger," she says.
"Um, what?" I reply.
"Squeeze your breast like a hamburger, and put it in her mouth," she says.
"Um, what?" I start to cry....this is not the plan.
So my beautiful midwife comes in with lactation. Here's the good part, she has a pump, a spoon, and a tiny syringe. She helps me pump, shows me how to feed my newborn with a spoon or tiny tube attached to my finger. She sends me to kellymom.com and gives me her number for help. Most importantly, she tells me I can do this. She give me resources for help. She tells me about the breastfeeding support group and how to call for a lactation consultant. She tells my husband how to assist. Here's what we learned:
1. This isn't exactly natural. Biologically speaking, it is, but actually, it is a skill that takes practice.
2. This is new for my baby, too. She's never been hungry before. She's never had to work for food, it was just supplied to her in my womb. She's confused too.
3. There is help. kellymom.com is a great place to find answers to your questions. Your local La Leche League is a great place to ask and get support from moms who have been there. My hospital also had a breast feeding support group that had a lactation consultant and nurse at each meeting to assist.
4. Finally, be kind to yourself. This is new. Formula is not evil. You and your baby will figure this out, or you won't and either is ok. At the end of the day, FED IS BEST. Feed your baby. breathe them in, kiss them and love them and ask for help.
Our doulas are each trained as breastfeeding specialists and can help you figure out new holds, new strategies or will just get you a glass of water and cheer you on. Call us. We are here to help.