Saturday, August 2, 2008

The lost art of breastfeeding

So I just started watching Bringing Home Baby on TLC, and there something I keep seeing/hearing...moms having a lot of difficulty with breastfeeding when they come home from the hospital and switching to formula. I hear the same thing from a couple of my friends who have recently had a baby. Somewhere along the line, we got the idea that breastfeeding is this innate, natural thing that we can all do and that it should be easy and painless. I think it's the complete opposite. You learn to breastfeed, and it's uncomfortable, and usually a little painful in the beginning. I think in the US, our problem is most of us never had a "teacher". We're not very open in this country when it comes to feeding our children. Breasts are mostly seen as sexual objects, so when we nurse our children in public, we are encouraged to cover up or go hide somewhere to "do the deed". So no wonder so many of us have no clue what to do and have problems having our babies latch on. And then to make matters worse, we feel guilty if we can't do it. The hospitals don't always help...I feel they push formula on us - just look at the "freebies" you get: all formula themed. Thank God for lactation consultants and La Leche League - what would we do without them? How many of us have actually seen someone breastfeed prior to becoming mothers ourselves - without their child and breast hidden under a blanket or shawl? Still, so many new moms have no idea where to turn to for help.

I'll admit, prior to having Alessia, I didn't give much thought to breastfeeding. I wasn't even sure if I would do it. But I figured "how hard could it be?" I was surprised when my doctor's office wanted to sign me up for a breastfeeding class. I went mostly out of curiousity, and thank God I did! I met Maria from Postpartum Place, and more important than learning positions I learned where I could get help. When in the hospital, I requested help from the lactation "specialists", but found they weren't really helpful - they just positioned her for me and I had no clue what to do on my own. When it was time to go home we had so much difficulty that I freaked out and called PPP the next day to set up a consult. They were a life-saver for weeks to come (their number is saved in all my phones) The best part: they have support groups for moms that meet weekly. Alessia and I make the 45 minute trek each week to meet with the group. It's so great to hear other moms going through the same struggles and surviving. As our children get older, topics change, so it continues to be helpful. It's an opportunity for each of us to share what's going on with our baby and ourselves and provide support for each other. I'll miss it when I go back to work!

On a side note, August is World Breastfeeding Awareness Month and Aug 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Awareness Week. Check out for more info.

1 comment:

Christy said...

Breastfeeding is hard. And every baby is different, so I don't like to judge other mothers for their decisions. Porgie struggled with breastfeeding from the moment she was born. And after a month of exclusive breastfeeding, she had still not regained her birth weight. I was devastated. I started pumping, and feeding her breastmilk from a bottle. I did this for the next 6 months. I pumped every two hours all day long. It was exhausting.

However, my son latched on almost immediately. He greatly enjoys breastfeeding, and is one chunky little guy. I have LOVED breastfeeding him, and plan on continuing until he is ready to wean.