When breastfeeding doesn't come naturally
I’ve always been jealous of the Mums for whom breastfeeding comes naturally. Like the ones who give birth without (much) pain or pain relief, or the ones whose children don’t love lollies or chocolate.
But the truth is that I’ve met lots of Mums since I became a Mum, and for most of us it was a real struggle.
For lots of women, breastfeeding is a learning curve climbing such a steep hill that some of them can’t make it to the top.
Is there something wrong with these women?
Of course not.
Is there something wrong with the ideal picture of breastfeeding that is sold to new Mums?
Well, in my opinion, YES.
I remember when they told me that my new born baby, if left alone, would find my nipple and start breastfeeding minutes after birth. I remember reading the hospital leaflets with those diagrams of a baby’s mouth perfectly latching on a mother’s nipple.
Well, my babies wouldn’t have found my nipple after birth even if it had neon discotheque lights and siren sounds. And they could have handed me the materials and instructions to build a rocket ship and I would have found it easier than latching my new born baby.
Mums share the horror stories of birth and then we share the horror stories of breastfeeding: flat nipples, shields, bad posture, back pain, mastitis, reflux, cabbage leaves you name it.
I still remember the excruciating pain of my cracked nipples. I have memories of me sitting next to my baby’s cot, tears rolling down my cheeks, because I was terrified at the idea of her waking up for the next feed.
Why I didn’t give up?
I wanted to, a million times. But I was lucky to get the help of a lactation consultant with baby#1, Dragon Ryder.
She didn’t TELL me what to do or simply put my nipple in the baby’s mouth. Instead, she guided me through the process and showed me how to do it dozens, hundreds of times.
And every time I felt useless, lost and extremely lonely, she gave me a hug and said: “I know this is the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but you can do it”.
Because all those antenatal classes where they teach you the breastfeeding basics with a baby doll: they are not enough.
Because new Mums need much more free postnatal support than what they have currently.
Because breastfeeding can be the most wonderful and beautiful thing you can do for your baby.
But it takes a while for it to come naturally for some.
Unless your baby is born already at 3 months old with a big round mouth.
Anna is a journalist and a mother of three children under the age of 7, Dragon Ryder, Gecko Princess and Baby Anaconda. She spends most of her week being a stay-out-of-home Mum to tire her three energetic girls while she thinks and writes about the joys and struggles of parenting.