The Importance of Support and Breastfeeding
***This is an article I wrote for my doula website a few months before my little guy was born. I just reread it as I was going through some archives and thought it would be helpful here. It certainly reminded me as to why I am still nursing.****
The other night I lay awake thinking about this little one that will be arriving in the next few months and doing so caused my to do list to continue to grow. I’m thinking about the birth, my birth team, vaccinations, breastfeeding, among other concerns and plans that expectant moms often think about.
One thing actually brought a wave of comfort and peace that helped lull me back to sleep. I was reflecting on when my now three-year was six-months old. Earlier I had taken her to her six month check up and was giving my husband the report that evening over dinner. “Petite little thing, not uncommon for breastfed babies, thriving, overall a healthy happy baby”. As this little one sat on my lap my husband’s face changed to one of adoration and pure sweetness as if he’d gotten a beautiful revelation.
He looked at me and said, “That’s amazing. You’ve kept her alive just with breastfeeding her. I can see how much of a sacrifice it is for you but you do it without complaining and our baby is healthy and thriving because you were determined to do it.” He went on to remind me of the trials in the beginning, but how I had become a pro and baby and I became a team.
At that time I don’t think I really grasped what he was doing or what he said really meant to me. I went on to breastfeed until she was a little over two years old and in hindsight having a supportive spouse made all of the difference.
As I sit and think about what my life will be like the next few months or years (depending on how long new baby nurses), instead of thinking about what I will be missing out on; freedom of spontaneity, clothing choices, convenience and other things I can’t think of now, but will while I’m nursing, I will instead think about how short of a time it really is, the gift I am giving this little one and those kind words of encouragement my husband gave to me.
Do you have anyone who is encouraging your decision to breastfeed? Feeling supported is one major component of successful breastfeeding and how you will feel about the experience.
Seek out other moms who have had good experiences. If they can do it (minus the percentage who physically cannot breastfeed) so can you. It helps to observe and be able to ask questions.
Have an open communication with your spouse or partner about why it’s important to you and baby and how they can help. A lot of times they want to help but are unsure of how to.
There are also local La Leche League International groups that are available by phone and also meet on a weekly or monthly basis. I found this connection to be invaluable especially when I would hit a breastfeeding obstacle.
Most hospitals have on staff lactation consultants and specialists. It is important to meet with one who is actively involved with continuing education and who is not so easily ready to give up on you.
I would like to note that if you have decided not to breastfeed or are/were unable to for what ever reason that this article is not meant to be condemning but supportive to those who have chosen to do so. Truth be told, breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful, natural things in the world but it can also be one of the most challenging situations a woman may encounter. For some women knowing that they are not alone and have support is enough to help them go a few more weeks, months or year if she and baby decides.
Books to consider: