I awoke on the other morning to this article in my Twitter timeline. “Is the Medical Community Failing Breastfeeding Mothers?”. As expected, I jumped right into reading while my shower was warming. It gave me some good brain candy to chew as I washed.
Breastfeeding is one “thing” that gets me up on the soapbox. For one, I love it and two, I had to put in a lot of effort. Some might say too much for something that should “just happen”. While it is beautifully natural, it isn’t something you just get used to right off the bat. No volume of deep breathes and happy thoughts can prepare you for that on your nips. Even the second time.
If I find out someone is pregnant, I start throwing breastfeeding tips and suggestions at them (if they plan to). I hate to be “that girl” about it but I feel like the pregnancy world (and the medical one, according to the article) are failing new moms. There is so much emphasis on birth. Birth classes, books, breathing techniques, what kind of tennis balls to pack in your bag, your birth plan, etc. You spend so much time worrying and preparing for something that will happen…one way or another. Yes, you should be prepared for problems to arise. You should know about pitocin, drug options, c sections, positions and the like. You shouldn’t go in blind but with all this energy spent researching one bodily function, another is often completely forgotten.
You may read a little bit in a book about how breast is best. You might have some friends who breastfeed. You might see some information about engorgement in the first few days and maybe a little anatomy. Some folks go to a class to just hear them tell you WHY breastfeeding is best. They don’t examine you, show you positions or even talk about pumping usually. An entire WORLD of information you are not privy to until it is 3 am as you are in tears googling on your phone why your nipples are on fire. It is a travesty. And then there is the big “if it hurts, you are doing it wrong” bullshit. If there was ever a line to make you feel like shit, it would be that one. Even with the stack of knowledge I had, when Landon was put on me in that first hour, I remembered that line and asked “I thought it wasn’t supposed to hurt?”.
So my first beef with the medical community is lack of education. I personally think OBs should have an appointment or more devoted to breastfeeding. What about a once a month seminar as part of your package? I know they are willing to answer questions but you don’t know what you don’t know. But until my dream comes true, self education is all you got. With that said, here are some tips I recommend to new moms-to-be:
- Pregtastic Podcasts – Talked about them many times before. Great resource for all things pregnancy and new mom related. Tons of tips on breastfeeding from all different perspectives.
- La Leche League meetings – Now I know this is scary for some. I recommend looking into lunch and learn type meetings. There are many in the Triangle area once a week. It is usually in a small shop where you can just drop in, chat, ask questions. I went while I was pregnant with Landon. BEST DECISION. I just went in and said “what advice do you have?” They were MORE than happy to load me up. Then I visited a few more times to just be there. Watch people feed their kids. Hear their struggles. I even got to see a new mom come in needing help with a 5 day old. I never felt like they were judging me or being extra hippy. Just normal women. Also know these women are there to HELP. Don’t be shy. It was nice to know I had that in my back pocket.
- Isis Parenting webinars – Granted I didn’t know of these until like last week but HOLY HELL, BATMAN! What a great resource. They cover all kinds of issues and even have a live chat every Thursday at noon EST. I can’t wait to delve into them more!
- Talk with your OB – Ask about what they recommend you do to prepare. You never know what they might have to help you. It may just be a brochure for a support group or a lactation consultant but it is SOMETHING.
- Know you lactation consultant options – And now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you have access to free consults. Check out Mom in A Million’s post about that. Just know the number you might be calling in those first few days. Once again, they are there to help.
Then there’s Hollywood. I think breastfeeding isn’t mainstream enough. So many babies are just bottle fed, which I get it, breastfeeding is hard to “act” but they could at least attempt. Show a mom in a rocking chair with a baby across her lap. A cover even. But even more than that, they make birth scary. Miranda covered that here when talking about zombie birth but she is right. Hollywood makes birth so scary and full of drama. I imagine this is why pregnant women spend so much energy worrying about birth and never seeing the ins and outs of newborn life. Even shows like Bringing Home Baby don’t really show it. They show the family coming home to family and visitors and one night. I want to see a show about 2-3 weeks in. The REAL stuff.
So while things have definitely gotten better over time, it ain’t perfect. You still need to arm yourself with knowledge. So hopefully this list will get you thinking and researching before you have a baby because trust me, you don’t want to be researching after the fact.
How was your breastfeeding experience? Did you prepare ahead of time?