This week’s post is written by a very special guest…. my wife. No matter how much I try, I will never do justice to this topic. Yes there are loads of articles out there telling you how important it is to breastfeed your child. But we want to talk about something that mothers tend to take for granted and then struggle later.
Over to my wife.
The first conversation I had on breastfeeding was with my aunt, my dad’s youngest sister. She said, “I breastfed all my three babies until they turned one! I hope you do too. Persevere , don’t give up . ” I was 5 months pregnant.
My brothers and I were formula fed babies so I never had the opportunity to discuss this with my mom.
I remember thinking what the fuss was about. It’s the most natural thing in the world.
A few days later, I was in Japan. I sat by a bridge overlooking a river with flying fish, with the Arashiyama bamboo forest in the background. My phone buzzed and it was my dear friend, urging me to attend a workshop on breastfeeding.
Why did she think I needed to attend a workshop on breastfeeding? It’s the most natural thing in the world! I was only interested in prenatal yoga, and the right breathing techniques, and the right stretches that would see me through a totally natural child birth!
Nonetheless, I decided to go. I was fresh from a holiday and ready to pass some time before I got serious with breathing correctly.
It may have been the wisest decision I made since, forever.
Here’s the thing, breastfeeding may be the most natural thing in the world, but it sure as hell does not come naturally.
I met the most kind, patient, and sincere lactation specialist at the session. She guided us through eye-opening facts about breastfeeding. Things to look out for, the rights and wrongs, the ‘normal’, the important “etc” .
I was one among the two pregnant women in a sea of new moms. The other one was the doctor’s childhood friend.
The mothers shared stories after the session. One had broken out into a rash post delivery and decided not to breastfeed her newborn until the marks were gone. A few days later, her son preferred the bottle to the breast. Another couldn’t get her baby to latch correctly, leading to frustration for all parties involved. There were stories of bleeding from sore nipples, babies crying through the night from hunger, and a general air of guilt, at not being good enough to do the most natural thing in the world.
Later, my friends shared their stories too. One baby would wake up crying every 15 minutes, another never latched, a third was formula fed once a day because no one told the mother there was no need for it.
I was now looking at every first-time mom with new eyes. How was her breastfeeding journey going? I wondered. Was she suffering in silence because someone asked her to suck it up (no pun intended) and “bear the pain”? Did a lactation specialist visit her or was she going to listen to family advice? Was she feeling adequate or burdened with guilt?
I don’t want to write about what comprises breastfeeding; that’s not my area of expertise. But I want to spread the word and say, “hey, there’s help available.” Reach out BEFORE the baby comes along. Child birth is a much shorter event than breastfeeding. If there is so much awareness on giving birth, imagine the talks we should have about feeding the baby.
A new mom should be armed with as many resources and as much knowledge as possible.
No, it should not hurt. Yes, it is the most natural thing in the world.
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