1 . WHAT I HEARD: “IT’S THE MOST NATURAL THING.”
The problem with saying that something is natural is that there is an implication that it must be easy… at least that it the way I interpreted it when I was pregnant the first time. One of the very first breastfeeding tips I heard from many seasoned Mothers that “breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, all mammals on earth do it!” In my naivety, I thought that meant that the moment I gave birth, two beautiful streams of milk would come cascading out of my mammaries, and both my child and I would obviously know what to do.
I never thought in a million years that I would have an issue. It was going to come NATURALLY to me. I took my predisposed ability to breastfeed for granted. When a breastfeeding class was offered to me as one of the child birth prep courses by my physician’s office, I quickly disregarded it. After all I told myself if cats and monkeys and women throughout the history of our species could successfully navigate it, I certainly can figure it out.
WHAT I WISH I HEARD: “IT MIGHT NOT COME NATURALLY TO YOU, AND THAT’S OKAY.”
I was in complete shock when shortly after giving birth to my son, I discovered that my nipples were not ideal for latching. In fact, my poor little guy had a very hard time finding something to latch on to, given that my nipples were somewhat flat. I remember feeling horrified as the nurse at the hospital took a look at me fumbling as I tried to guide my baby’s mouth to where I was guessing it should go and asked, “Did you take a breastfeeding class?” “No…” I replied, sinking into my regret and realization that all of my assumptions about how simple this was going
to be were sadly misguided. “I’ll have the lactation consultant come and see you in the morning” she said, and left me there to continue fumbling, tears welling and panic rising.
The truth is the while some women may not have as hard a time as others learning how to breastfeed, it is a learned skill. No one gets into a car for the first time and knows instinctively how to operate it, even though it may seem easy enough to do before you try, I just step on the gas, and steer with the wheel, right?
I am so grateful that the hospital my son was born in offered lactation consultant services, because I truly feel that without the advice of the two brilliant and patient consultants who helped me and introduced me to some of the best breastfeeding tips, I would have stopped trying. During the first consultation I had, the consultant literally milked colostrum (a sticky, first milk your body produces after giving birth) out of my boob and caught it in a tiny vial for my son to drink. She showed me different latching and holding techniques, and encouraged me to try different styles until we had one that worked.