Being one of the bottle-fed generation, I wasn't brought up with an intimate acceptance of breastfeeding. Two years travel in Africa took care of that. In the countries I visited, it was common to see babies and toddlers snacking on milk at all times and in all sorts of places. Women would sit down for a minute, to get a little break from their work, and a toddler would run up for his milk break. A woman would be walking on a path, with a heavy sack on her head, and her small baby nursing from her sling.
Breastfeeding for me was a straightforward event. And for most women, it is, or it should be. Unfortunately, many women who are giving birth in the hospital (reality check: over 90% of North American women) are being educated wrongly about their breasts and breastfeeding and end up having painful difficulties with what could be such an easy and joyous activity.
Most women's breasts are well equipped to produce milk. Some women have nipples that aren't perfect, and some have had surgery that makes it more difficult. But there are a few simple ingredients that make up a happy breastfeeding relationship:
Skin! is one of them. Take your bra off - take your clothes off - take your baby's clothes off!
Remember when you first met your true love? You probably spent a lot of time in bed without any clothes on. That's the way new babies like to relate with their new mothers.
No interference! is another. Forget the bottle, the pump, the soother, the baby equipment. If you want to get breastfeeding off to a good start, you and the baby are all you need. Later, you can play with all the baby toys.
Position! is important. Make sure the baby is taking the breast correctly. Breastfeeding should not hurt for longer than about thirty seconds at the beginning of the feed. If it does, remove the baby and place her on again. Get someone to observe you feeding if you are in pain - and call someone in soon to prevent problems. Call your doula! Do not suffer in silence!
It is such an indescribable feeling, looking down at a fat and happy breastfed baby and knowing that your body helped that child to survive and thrive. Remember that your body created a newborn, and it can create enough milk for that newborn.
This post is dedicated to Luna, who is transcending her limits.
I have an assortment of interesting classes, workshops and get-togethers happening at my cafe over the next few months. Here's...
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