Breastfeeding is one of the most contentious issues faced by new mothers today. It is most mothers’ gut reaction to try, but when baby comes along it might not be as easy as you thought.
One of the hardest things I faced after the birth of both my babies was getting the hang of it. You have read about the difficulties of pregnancy and heard non-stop the crazy stories about labour and giving birth, but what about breastfeeding? No one really tells you that it’s hard, it’s painful, initially it feels weird and ‘getting it right’ has the potential to send you over the edge into emotional meltdown.
The pressure to breastfeed is enormous and there are numerous reasons why. Not only is breast milk liquid gold for your baby, it’s also free. Colostrum is a thick, yellow first milk that your body makes during pregnancy and just after birth. It is very rich in nutrients and antibodies and is designed to protect your baby. Your newborn will get a tiny amount, but it’s just enough for his or her tiny tummy. As your baby grows, your milk changes. The ‘mature’ milk you start to produce on the third to fifth day after birth has just the right amount of fat, sugars, water and protein to ensure baby continues to grow. As your baby sucks you may feel intense pains in your abdomen that feels a bit like labour pains. The suckling of your baby triggers your body to start reigning in your womb, contracting it slowly but surely back to the size it was. It’s pretty amazing, really.
This all that may sound wonderful, but actually getting your baby to latch on is another story. At first it may feel awkward and alien, but while you are in hospital, concentrate when the nurses are prodding and poking you and try to take in as much as possible. Ask lots of questions and point out anything that is worrying you. This will give you the confidence to persevere when you get home and suddenly, you and baby are on your own. Stock up on nipple cream and boost your milk production with jungle juice *recipe below*. If you feel that your baby isn’t getting enough, ask your doctor to prescribe something to help. There are some great milk boosters available that also contain a very mild anti-depressant that can help with baby blues. Persevere as long as you feel that you want to. However, if you are struggling, don’t allow pressure from any source get you down. Ultimately you and your baby’s health and happiness is what’s important. Stay in touch with your medical practitioner and communicate any problems or doubts you may have as they arise.
You may take to it immediately, you may take up to six weeks to get the hang of it, or you may decide to put your baby on to formula straight away. None of these things make you a better or worse mother. Ultimately we are all doing our best for our babies, and that is just how it should be.
Jungle Juice recipe
1 litre apple juice
1 litre cold water
60ml Berry Elixir
1 sachet Rehydrate
10 drops Rescue Remedy (optional)
*drink within 24 hours due to the rehydrate
Other articles you may be interested in:
Your unborn baby month by month
How to: pack your hospital bag
Surviving the silly season while pregnant
Pregnancy and sun tanning
Heading back to work after maternity leave