- There is a lack of concerted care in the American hospital system to support breastfeeding. I took my hospital’s “baby-friendly” designation to mean that I’d get help there if I needed it. Unfortunately, sometimes when you don’t know that you need to ask for help or how to ask for it, help doesn’t come, even in an environment that’s set up to help. Be vigilant if you think there is a problem and be that annoying patient if you have any doubts about anything. If you don’t like the advice you’re getting – seek out another opinion. Be brave.
- We live in a society of extremes so carefully consider what you are reading. The internet is not your best friend. If it is, it’s really that friend of yours that secretly hates you and feeds on all of your insecurities.Everyone has an opinion, but ultimately, you must decide what works best for the physical, mental, and spiritual health of your family (yes, mama, that includes YOU).
- Breastfeeding has become a badge of honor. The term EBF (Exclusively Breast Fed) is like branding your baby “organic”, which, like organic groceries, is a privilege and not easy to attain for everyone. Maternity benefits are not equal and not everyone can take a year off of work to nurse their child. Although there are laws that protect breastfeeding mothers who need to pump at work, employers are not always aware nor supportive. Do the best you can for you and your child and if you need help, seek it out. However, realize there is more to your child’s development than just what he/she eats and do not blame yourself “for not doing enough.” You will always be enough.
- Don’t be too proud to accept help. I can only say this now because personally, it is very hard for me to accept help and in retrospect – the times I did accept help really made a difference. Breastfeeding in the first month is a full-time job along with the steep learning curve of being a new parent. Though no one else can nurse your child, but you, don’t hesitate to let people help you with everything else. When friends come over and ask if you want food, accept. When they offer to hold baby for a while so you can jump in the shower – do it! When your mom wants to help around the house – let her. Fathers – during the first month, expect to be on the sidelines. There are only so many diapers that need to be changed. What the baby needs most is mama and what mama needs most is sleep, nutrition, and support. By making sure mama is rested, fed, and hydrated – you are indirectly caring for the baby.
- In the drive to educate mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding, society has inadvertently shamed mothers who choose not to and in the course of doing so, instead of encouraging mothers to find ways to breastfeed that will fit their lives, discourages them from even trying. Every little bit helps and it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing game. Yes, it’s true that your milk supply does get established early on – but if you haven’t figured out how to breastfeed in that first few days, pump and pump and supplement if need be until you get the help you deserve. If you’ve realized it’s not for you and it’s making you more stressed and unhappy – know that your child will still be ok if you must use formula. If mama’s ok – so will baby.
And if you are trying to breastfeed and need a little help, hopefully the local resources listed below will help you start somewhere:
San Diego Breastfeeding Support Groups – These are FREE to the public and is what helped me more than anything else. I recommend going within days of coming home from the hospital whether or NOT you think you need help.