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Give InKind expresses gratitude to Kerry Lee Zeff, owner of Sapling for her expert contributions to this post. (Anecdotal incidents reflect the experiences of the author only).
In an effort to be transparent about breastfeeding, I have included a picture of myself at the very moment of first latch. My friend is jamming my nipple into the mouth of my newborn and I am finding it somewhat uncomfortable.
Which is to say I am finding it unbelievably painful.
Breastfeeding is not always the most natural thing. Many new moms struggle to establish breastfeeding. Many report feelings of extreme stress and worry that they are not succeeding. Many new moms may feel isolated and alone. It is worth remembering that breastfeeding is often hard at the beginning – it can be challenging and uncomfortable. New moms should know that they are not alone.
In order to support a new mom who wishes to establish breastfeeding, first and foremost make sure she receives adequate support and education.
Says Kerry Lee Zeff:
“Many new moms get a lot of unsolicited advice from friends and family. Moms should remember that their friends and family are not experts … mamas may need to identify the best people in their lives to trust and listen to – and take everything else with a grain of salt.”
Difficulty breastfeeding is no reflection on mama’s ability to meet the needs of her baby.
Should she wish to breastfeed, help her to identify a fully qualified lactation expert. Ask around for the best person in a community to learn who might be helpful. Go ahead and contact La Leche League for suggestions.
If a baby seems to have difficulty latching on, consider whether there is an issue of a tongue-tie which can impede effective latch. Make sure to seek truly expert advice on this point, as this can sometimes be misdiagnosed.
Make sure that the new mom is eating enough. This is a great time to keep the meals coming. Ask whether she is getting enough sleep. Assuming she is not (normal), make sure to anticipate needs such as shopping, laundry, and cleaning.
Consider providing her a basket of items to assist in her establishing of breastfeeding. Let her know that she is wonderful. Let her know that her baby is just perfect. Remind her that they are made for one another.
I had a terrible time at the the beginning when I learned to breastfeed. This is not something I share with pregnant women because their experience will be theirs. Their pregnancy and plans to breastfeed are not about me.
It is, however, something I absolutely share with anyone who struggles to nurse. When I began nursing it hurt a great deal. This is evidenced by the terrible picture accompanying this post. My nipples bled. I was tired. I was terrifically scared that I would not make enough milk. I obsessively counted and weighed diapers and still remember the lurch of my stomach when the diaper was dry.
Nursing for the first time is a terrific leap of faith.
With adequate and loving support, I was able to receive the support I needed in order to learn to breastfeed. I had loving friends. I had a pediatrician with whom I was able to establish an good dialogue.
But this was a difficult path. It was more difficult than people like to acknowledge. So go ahead and acknowledge it. The measure of success is love.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.