The Breastfeeding Quandary

June 22, 2012
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There are some topics which cause such a furore that even as an industry professional I’m left staggered by the range of opinions, so goodness only knows what a woman who’s just given birth may feel.

Whether you choose to breastfeed or not, everyone has an opinion on how you should be feeding your baby. As a new mother you know that ‘breast is best’ but with information and opinion overload where do you begin, especially if breastfeeding is proving trickier to establish than you might have imagined.

Education and Preparation

More and more women are educating themselves about the process of birth so why not educate yourself about the mechanics of breastfeeding before your baby arrives. To have an understanding of how breastfeeding works, what latching on involves and issues surrounding ‘expressing’ will be of huge benefit. Then when baby arrives you can begin to practice what you’ve learnt rather than having to learn the theory and practical while you have a hungry baby.

The Breastfeeding Experts

Women today have access to a massive variety of breastfeeding resources. So which is best for you? Do you listen to the midwives, health visitors, your mother, friends, Dr. Google or immerse yourself in the vast array of specialist books? What’s the difference between a lactation consultant and a breastfeeding counsellor/guru?

Breastfeeding is an issue that tends to polarise opinion, so try to be aware when seeking advice, that people may be offering advice which worked for them. Keep in mind that what works for some might not work for you, in which case, try a different approach. Listen to your instincts and choose the support which is right for you. This may mean having to explore a range of differing advice and options before you find the method which works for you, but whatever the issue, a resolution can be found.

But Breastfeeding Is So Painful

There’s a difference in getting breastfeeding established where your nipples may be tender but if breastfeeding is consistently painful over a period of time do you think this is right? Why would Nature make it excruciating for the mother to nurture her young? Simply put – she wouldn’t, so if it is painful, something isn’t quite right. Don’t think this is how it must be because it isn’t – seek support from professionals and you’ll see that breastfeeding can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience.

A Dose of Realism

Whenever I teach I know that I cannot guarantee that all my mothers are going to have their planned, normal births. Sometimes circumstances happen outside of their control and Plan B has to come into play.

Well, not all women can breastfeed, yet the pressure to do so right from the beginning can be suffocating and cause the mother to feel intensely guilty. Women who have had a caesarean section may find breastfeeding tricky to establish but it is possible. Others won’t be able to breastfeed, in which case clear, helpful unbiased advice is needed about formula feeding because the bottom line is that baby must be fed. My assistant had a c-section, wasn’t able to breastfeed and felt like not only had she failed to give birth but failed to breastfeed. She says (and I think this makes a lot of sense) that nothing natural had happened in and to her body, and after major surgery she felt that her body knew to heal itself first. and wasn’t up to producing milk. For her baby’s well being there was no option but to use formula milk.

Whatever you decide make it about you and your baby’s individual needs.

Helpful Organisations

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers – 08444 122 949

Breastfeeding Network – 0300 100 0210

La Leche League – 0845 120 2918

National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0300 100 0212

National Childbirth Trust – 0300 330 0770

As a natural childbirth consultant, Sarah helps expecting women and their partners make informed choices about their pregnancy and birth. Sarah teaches Hypnobirthing, lectures about normal birth and founded NaturalChildbirth – an international website all about pregnancy and birth – www.naturalchildbirth.co/uk

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