Friday, May 2, 2014

The Breastfeeding Chronicles Part I: Learn to Use the Force

In hindsight, I realize I was not as prepared to breastfeed my first baby as I could have been. I had read – ok, skimmed – some books, looked on the Web, and taken a one day breastfeeding class. But the information was all so new, it didn’t quite sink in. I had assumed that someone else would guide me through this process. In a way, this was one of my first lessons in parenting. I was now the guide, and I had to be prepared. Here are some of the things I learned in what my grandpa calls “the school of hard knocks:”
  • When I had a lot of pain with nursing, I thought it was normal. I now understand that it was probably due to a latching issue.
  • When my milk did not immediately come in, I thought it was not normal. I now know that a mature milk supply might not come in until about three days post birth, so I didn’t have to be so worried.
  • I should’ve had that baby nursing, not sucking on a pacifier in the hospital room. To be honest, I knew that beforehand but in the intensity of the moment we needed some crying relief since nursing was not going well.
  • I thought I could simply reach out to friends who had breastfed for help when I needed it. Although social support and reaching out to friends (and whoever else will listen!) is incredibly helpful and important, I now realize that they are not trained to recognize when you should seek medical attention. Before giving birth, I definitely should have identified a few trained helpers, such as a local Lactation Consultant or La Leche League volunteer, and reached out for help when I was in pain.
To sum it up, take some time to think beyond the pregnancy and prepare yourself and your family. Although breastfeeding is natural, it is a learned skill.
Here are some resources that provide some guidance on the first leg of your journey:
Stay tuned for future posts on feeding the little one:
The Breastfeeding Chronicles Part 3: The Return of the Mommy
In-formula-tion Underload

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