I often hear about how mothers struggled with breastfeeding because of —-> insert reason <——- and its usually things that could have been resolved with the right support.
Educating yourself during pregnancy is probably the kindest thing you can do for yourself if you have your heart set on breastfeeding. The more you learn antenatally, the better chance of success.
Another important aspect though, and something that I teach in my antenatal 3 week course, is having a breastfeeding plan. Just like you would make yourself a birth plan make yourself a breastfeeding plan.
When thinking about breastfeeding, ask yourself, how do I really feel about it? Who is going to be supporting us on our journey?
Maybe you were bought up in a house hold where breastfeeding was normal. Maybe you were breastfed yourself. If this is the case, you’re subconsciously more likely to have built up a picture that breastfeeding is the norm and it’s easy. You’re more likely to ask for help when needed. This could be, positive support from a family member, finding a breastfeeding group or even hiring a local IBCLC.
On the other hand, if you were bought up in a house hold where bottle/formula feeding was the norm and you have heard lots of stories that breastfeeding is hard, then your subconscious will also believe this to be true.
Just like in hypnobirthing, we need to retrain our subconscious with positive messages around breastfeeding, just like we would for birth.
Lucys breastfeeding story
Lets’ look at Lucys story.
Lucy was determined she wanted to breastfeed. She had read a few books prior to the birth of her daughter and was confident she had the basics covered. When baby arrived the hospital helped her with her first feed and were very supportive in helping Lucy and her daughter for the first 48 hours whilst Lucy was in hospital following the birth. When Lucy arrived home on day 3, she noticed that her breasts had become more full and were quite sore. She began to question her ability to feed without the support of the hospital.
Her mother in law came over to visit. This was quite stressful for Lucy as she didn’t want to get he breasts out in front of her mother in law. Lucys new baby daughter seemed to be feeding constantly. Lucy was becoming more and more distressed to which Lucys mother in law then went out and bought some formula for the baby because the baby was clearly hungry and Lucy was getting very distressed and uncomfortable too. After feeding the baby formula, the baby settled and finally went to sleep. This left Lucy feel emotional, like she had failed her baby. She had confirmed to her self that breastfeeding is hard and not for everybody.
What can we learn from Lucys breastfeeding story?
The most important thing that I tell all my clients is, feel free to say no to visitors.
Lucys mother in law was clearly trying to help the situation but unfortunately the help was adding fuel to the fire. What Lucy was experiencing was her milk maturing at the time it is meant to but she was feeling uneasy with being watched by her mother in law.
When we feel watched and uneasy it can restrict oxytocin which can effect our milk supply.
If Lucy had asked her mother in law to hold off on a visit by a day or two, this would have allowed her to settle in at home and have privacy during her first experience of cluster feeding. It may still have been hard work but she would not have had the interruptions from others.
The second thing we can learn from Lucys story is that, we need people around us who are on our side. If you want to EBF, then have people know that you are not giving formula unless deemed necessary by your health care provider. This allows us to choose our support carefully and be firm in our decision making process.
It’s important to highlight here that people care. They care about your wellbeing and they care about your new baby but they also have their own pre built ideas and beliefs about what and how others should feed their babies. Some may not even be aware of it but it will be there. Always trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to say no.
In your breastfeeding plan think about the following points:
- Who will be visiting in the early days, are they supportive of your choices?
- Where can I seek professional advice from?
- Are there any breastfeeding groups I can attend in my area?
- Do I know whats normal and when to get help?
- What will my set up be at home? How will I create an environment which will allow oxytocin to flow?
- How will I feed myself in the early days? As well as meeting my other basic needs? Shower etc
- How can my partner support me? If you don’t have a partner then think about who will be your main support and what you need from them.
Theres lots to think about when preparing for your new arrival so I hope that this gives you some perspective. If you have any questions at all then feel free to reach out to me or take a look on my website for information on courses.