24 March 2011

If it is so natural, why can't I do this?

I was speaking with a friend today who has just had a baby. I asked her whether she was breastfeeding him. She replied with a tone of guilt that even though she had tried really hard, she was unable to breastfeed and had switched to forumla. She noted that there was so much pressure to breastfeed yet not enough support for new mums and was already feeling regretful.

It got me thinking about my breastfeeding journey. With Layla turning 11 months next week and now down to three feeds a day, breastfeeding is easy and simple. It was not always this way. My journey has included several bouts of mastitis, pain issues and a baby with poor attachment. I have written previously about the battle to breastfeed and thought I would include here a few points:
  • Do not underestimate how difficult breastfeeding can be. While not all women have problems feeding, a fair few do. While I am now a long term breastfeeder, I must admit that feeding added to my struggle, exhaustion and depression in the early days;
  • Try to prepare for breastfeeding by attending a breastfeeding class at your hospital or through the Australian Breastfeeding Association;
  • Find a local private lactation consultant before you have your baby. If you are having problems, contact the consultant and arrange a visit as soon as possible. When I was a child, women spent 7-10 days in hospital with nurses on hand to help with breastfeeding at any time during the day or night. Nowadays, women leave hospital shortly after their milk comes in (if they are lucky!) and are faced with many of the challenges when they get home;
  • Call the Australian Breastfeeding Associations help line (1800 MUM 2 MUM - 1800 686 2 686 (drop final 6 from Voip phones)) at any time of the day or night for help and support with feeding. The counsellors are real mums who have been through the same ups and downs as you;
  • No matter how long you last, whether it is a week, a month or a year, you should be commended for the effort it takes to feed your child. No matter the decision you make, you have a beautiful child who will and does love you to bits. Breastfeeding is but once element of having a child. There are and will be plenty of other challenges and joys along the way. In the scheme of things, the time spent breastfeeding is but a moment in a childs life.
Good luck and happy feeding!

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