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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Breastfeeding Support - And I'm Not Talking About the Boppy

This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop. Visit the links below and link up your own breastfeeding support story or leave a comment!

I was recently at the grocery store making a WIC purchase. The cashier commented that she notices that some people get baby meats with WIC and others don't. I explained that breastfed babies get meats because they don't get the iron that's supplemented in formula.

Then, the cashier said, "I didn't breastfeed. I was too scared."


I often assume that moms who don't breastfeed just don't have the knowledge and that it's essential to get the information out there, but this opened my eyes.

Then I remembered:

Getting pregnant is scary: Your body is changing in ways you never imagined; there is a living being moving around inside of you, kicking your insides and poking your cervix.

Then there is the whole issue of getting the baby out. No matter how confident you are and how much information you're armed with, the idea of labor is scary: You don't know how much it will hurt; you don't know if you will handle the pain; and you don't know how your partner will react.

Taking care of a newborn is scary: Will you be able to soothe your crying baby? What will you do with this squirming creature now that it's outside of your body? Will you feel an instant connection to your baby or will you take time to get to know this stranger?

And breastfeeding your baby is scary: Having a child attached to a part of your body that only you and your partner knew before is strange; What if it doesn't happen automatically or naturally? How do you feed your baby in public without baring it all? How do you know if you're baby is getting enough?

There is a lot to deal with in the days after having a baby, and the internet is a great source of information, but it can be overwhelming. You're getting information thrown at you right and left: Feed baby every 2-3 hours. You need to count 5-6 wet or poopy diapers a day. Don't let baby sleep for more than 4 hours without a feed. Is baby sleeping enough? Not enough?

Your brain can go crazy. Not to mention your body.

You're sore, you're leaking all kinds of who knows what, and you're squirting liquid out of your breasts. Before I had Tieren, I remember doing nipple stimulation in an attempt to encourage labor, and when I changed my shirt afterwards, there was colostrum on it. My body had already changed so much during my pregnancy, but this was so strange. I was excited, appalled, and curious all at the same time.

And I knew this was going to happen. I was armed with both information and support. I was surrounded by a community of both new and experienced mamas; we talked about babies, we talked about birth, and we talked about breastfeeding. I chatted with friends as they lifted their shirts and put their babies to their breasts, I confided in my sister about my fears and she assured me that it had been easier for her than she had expected. Other friends told me about their challenges. I knew that I had a huge network of support when it came to anything that had to do with birth, babies, and breastfeeding.

If you don't have that, it can be even scarier. A lactation consultant at the hospital grabs your boob, shoves it in your baby's mouth, and you feel a jolt go through your body at this new and intense sensation. See? Baby has a good latch. Baby is nursing.

Um, okaaayy.....

You think you have it down. Everything seems fine.

Then you go home. You're alone with your baby, and you don't quite remember everything that happened within the 48 hours after your labor. You were in a new mama fog, and now you don't know what to do. It's too expensive to call a lactation consultant, and you remember someone mentioned La Leche League, but you don't remember exactly what it was called. All your friends bottle fed, and they can offer you a variety of types of bottles and give you pointers on how to get your baby to take the bottle, but no one knows what you're talking about when you mention latch, the football hold, or colostrum.

What would you do?

We tend to combat our fears by drifting towards the familiar. In a brand new world of uneasiness, we reach for what we know. And it's easy to reach for the bottle in this situation. That's why it's so important to establish not only support, but accessibility and normalcy when it comes to breastfeeding.

When you're lost on the road, you can stop at any gas station and ask for directions. When you start a new job, you can stop by the nearest cubicle to ask for support. When you have a new baby, you should be able to find support right around the corner.


The Gnome's Mom said... Best Blogger Tips

I was so lucky to stumble across various support groups both online and in real life. It definitely made the difference for The Gnome and I.

Danielle @sweetserendipity03 said... Best Blogger Tips

Your post is so true. I was doing great nursing in the hospital and would have stopped when I got home if I didn't have friends to call and ask,"what do I do if x.y, and z happens?" I wish I could have taken my lactation consultant home with us. All in all it worked out and nursing was the best choice I ever made for my baby.

Sara from the Momzelle blog said... Best Blogger Tips

I really relate to your post. I am in the "pregnancy is scary" part of this journey (due in Feb with my first). Although, in reality, I'm loving being pregnant. I think I'm almost more afraid of not breastfeeding, at this point. I just want to so badly, just as I want to have a natural birth (entering the "labour is scary" zone right about now...). I'm not afraid of breastfeeding. I think I'm afraid that I won't find the right person, advice, book, technique, etc when I come across a breastfeeding obstacle.

Terri Babin said... Best Blogger Tips

What an awesome point of view! Sometimes I can be so judgemental, if a clerk said that to me I likely would have thought "Wow, too scared? Puh-lease! How selfish not to breastfeed simply because YOU are too scared, what about the baby? You are going to deprive him of a stronger immune system, the rich nutrients and antibodies in colustrum, the warmth of his mother's breast, protection against allergies, asthma, eczema,ear infections, respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney infections, a reduced risk of SIDS and so much more because YOU are scared?" This post helped me realize that sometimes there are VAILD reasons a mom can be scared, and rather than judging, we need to support. Thank you for sharing this post, I hope you will check out my post at and follow back. You can also add your blog to my "Blog Directory under the "Bloggers" tab if you'd like! I look forward to keeping in touch.


Candida said... Best Blogger Tips

I love the gas station analogy! Lets put up road signs for breastfeeding so that everyone knows where they can go to "fuel up" on support! :)

Breastfed: A breastfeeding blog for the modern mama. said... Best Blogger Tips

I used to think it was either selfishness or ignorance that kept people from breastfeeding. But when I heard someone say she was scared, it actually pissed me off. No one should be scared and have to deal with newborn issues and breastfeeding alone!

And @Candida - I love your comment!!

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