Learning to breastfeed can be a difficult and frustrating time for first-time mothers and their babies. Under the best circumstances, most of us have patience and determination to learn a new skill. However, after the physically draining effects of labour and birth, breastfeeding can easily become frustrating if the baby is slower to learn to latch at the breast.
Birthing a baby is the most energy draining, intense physical and mental marathon of your life. And while it is exhilarating to hold your baby after all the anticipation, wait and worry, you are then obligated to pick yourself up and respond to the needs of your newborn at the expense of your own. Your body aches, you are exhausted, urinating is uncomfortable, the menstrual-like discharge can be messy and first time mothers especially can be unsure of themselves when it comes to caring for newborns.
During this period just after birth, your internal resources are fragile and you can be vulnerable to outside criticism or disapproval. With respect to breastfeeding, “well intentioned help” can easily sabotage the breastfeeding process. Many new mothers are offered suggestions from people who truly believe that they are providing great advice, when the advice is dated and can actually interfere with the breastfeeding process. Here are a few situations that can arise, the problems that they can create, and suggestions on how to handle them.
The Postpartum Period
“You are so very tired. Why don’t you sleep and let us take care of your baby?”
Yes, it is true that you are tired after giving birth. However, if you let your nurse or someone else watch your baby while you sleep, you won’t know if they decide to feed your baby formula to give you a longer rest. The colostrum that your breasts produce just after birth is extremely concentrated with nutrients, immune factors and energy-rich natural sugars, and a newborn baby drinks colostrum approximately a teaspoon at a time. Because her stomach is extremely small, this amount of colostrum is a normal and healthy amount for her to ingest per feeding in the first few days of her life. If your baby is fed an ounce or more of formula, her stomach will become used to a larger volume and suddenly the colostrum that your breasts produce is not enough.