As soon as a woman becomes pregnant, she begins to consider how she will feed her baby. If she decides to breastfeed, it seems that everyone has a “horror story” to tell. “It hurts!” “I didn’t make enough milk!” “All I did was feed and pump; I never slept!”
So is breastfeeding really as hard as we hear? Isn’t it supposed to be natural? Well, natural does not always equate to easy. We live in a society that expects immediate gratification, and the learning required for successful breastfeeding is often not immediate.
If women judge the entire breastfeeding experience based upon what occurs the first few days after birth, they are quite likely to find the whole thing way too hard. Babies have tiny tummies, and they need to feed very frequently. The first milk, called colostrum, is so thick and creamy that it takes a long time for the baby to suck it out. And after the hard work of being born, many babies are sleepy and disorganized.
So what is a woman to do? Here are some tips that may help:
- Educate yourself. Attend a prenatal breastfeeding class.
- Surround yourself with supportive people. Find a friend or co-worker who has had a positive breastfeeding experience, and pick her brain for ideas.
- Have realistic expectations. Some feedings will go perfectly; some will not. Do not be too hard on yourself.
- Remind yourself that any amount of breastmilk your child receives is a gift from Mother Nature.
- Seek assistance from your in-hospital nursing staff and from the Columbus Regional Lactation Center at (706) 321-3765
–Jennifer Lamb Fletcher, RN, M.Ed., IBCLC