Sunday, January 9, 2011

Early Breastfeeding Obstacles Part 3 - Lack of Support

#3 Lack of Support - Whether it be from a spouse, extended family, doctors, etc. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy. At any hiccup in the process it is very easy for well-knowing folks to just throw out the F word... you know... Formula. If your baby is nursing "too much" or you seem "too tired". There it is... Formula. "It's okay honey, you tried..."

Someone suggesting formula at just the "right" time to an overly exhausted and frustrated mama could lead that breastfeeding relationship down a slippery damaging slope. Something that others don't realize is that breastfeeding IS the lazy way. Nothing to sterilize, clean, or heat up. Expose and insert... that's it. Let your partner/family/friends know ahead of time that formula is not an option and should not be suggested to you at any point. You being tired is not going to be fixed by giving the baby a bottle of formula. It comes with the territory of having a newborn, and it is hopefully a short period in your life as baby will start to sleep longer periods naturally once they are ready for that step.

Breastfeeding is an art form. Every breastfeeding relationship is different, and it takes time and effort to find a good rhythm.

One thing that really gets my goat is so called professional doctors with lack of support. Do you know how much training a doctor receives on breastfeeding in their 8 years of college education? Something along the lines of 2 hours is what I have heard. Ouch. Yeah, is this someone you really want to rely on for information? Granted, some doctors have had plenty of experience outside of their education either by having children of their own or just making the extra effort to know about it. Dig around... find yourself a good one. I have even had and heard of bad experiences with LC's (lactation counselors and consultants). I'm not sure if places are just short staffed, people are burned out on their job, or it's just a lack of listening skills since people feel like they've been asked the same question thirty times a day - but once again there are good ones out there. Even if the advice you've been given seems good... I'd still ask around to other forums. There is usually more than one way to do something, and the more people you ask the more ideas you will get. I don't mean to get down on professionals, but like any job... there are people who are good at their job and ones that should maybe seek other employment opportunities. :)

Solution: During pregnancy contact your local Le Leche League and start attending meetings. Find other local or online groups of breastfeeding mothers/families so you have a great resource for those inevitable questions. And you seriously want to get these resources and relationships built BEFORE you deliver your baby and find yourself having problems. Many people are in a volunteer position, and as much as they love breastfeeding... they are human and your cries for help might get lost in an overfilled email inbox. Having that personal relationship with a knowledgeable support person is going to help make sure that someone quickly responds to your cries for help should they arise.

And, in my opinion most importantly, always get a second opinion and never give up. Even if the advice sounds right - still get second opinions. There are so many variables and multiple correct answers. But, it is extremely rare for a woman not to be able to breastfeed, but in the beginning there can be some hurdles. They are well worth jumping over, I promise!
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  1. Don't forget to check out parts 1 & 2!

  2. YES La Leche League, prenatally, and with baby after birth is definitely a BIG help. As a breastfeeding counselor for WIC when I was in Texas, I always recommended to my clients to go to LLL (even though in our area the closest one was pretty far away) - even after I had given them a "solution" to their breastfeeding worries. Even if we had a plan to get over a hurdle, I would tell them CALL LLL, and see if you can attend a meeting. It's the mother-to-mother support that is just amazing. Seeing breastfeeding happen at the meetings, hearing that you're NOT alone, and having the friendship of a group of women who will support you even when your WIC office or LC's office is closed for the day. Besides, the leaders are really well trained. I'm looking into becoming a leader, and it's a lot of training. You can definitely seek help at LLL. Awesome.

  3. Wonderful post. My side of the family's take on it is 'of course you'll breastfeed!' So any troubles as, of coursel just to be met and overcome and, more importantly, CAN be overcome. My mom stayed up all night with me, for more than 1 of them, as I struggled to get my NICU graducate switched from pumped breastmilk in a bottle to fully breastfed. I know a lot of people have found our success in moving fully to breast after a month in the NICU to be nearly unheard of, but there wasn't ever a serious doubt it would happen because it's just how I was raised and my mom was there to help. (Not that it wasn't difficult, it was!) But with my 2nd child I was near my in laws and EVERYTHING not ideal about the baby was blamed on me breastfeeding and would go away if I would just give her formula. Newborn hungry every 2 hours? My milk "doesn't have enough nutrients" and I should give her formula (despite the fact that she had surpassed her birthweight by her 1 week check). Gas pains? Baby "must be allergic to your milk" and she needs formula. Not sleeping through the night by 2 months? "She would if you gave her formula". And my personal favorite, the day after we get home from the hospital, telling my husband to tell me they want me to cover up while I the house we are sharing with them.

  4. ::shudder:: I am so thankful that I've never been in that position with family. I don't think I'd do well in "behaving...."