Because our culture is so far removed from the village community of Africa or indigenous Australia many women can reach adulthood without ever seeing another woman breastfeed. Then as a community we are shocked when mum doesn't transition to the role of breastfeeding mum as smoothly as she would like. Our little babies are born, the tiny mammals that they are, breastfeeding is instinctive and inbuilt in them, they can crawl to the breast, locate the nipple and latch on all my them selves in the early moments after birth. For mum though, because of this lack of exposure, it's not instinct for her anymore, breastfeeding has become a learnt behaviour.
I've brought up a couple of more common booby traps that may get in the way, that make breastfeeding, with the Limited exposure of breastfeeding we do get, even less appealing.
Education is the key, and exposure, feed you baby in public and breastfeeding mums everywhere can help normalise breastfeeding for our sons and daughters.
1. Breastfeeding ties you down
In fact the opposite is true. Breastfeeding is actually quiet liberating for mum and baby. It's freeing to know that you can grab a few nappies and baby and be out the door and not worry about when you have to return home. Babies feed is always ready to go and you can feed anywhere any time. breastfeeding babies are very adaptive and before long you will be able to feed bub then make that hair appointment. Dad or grandma will in their own time find their groove with baby, baby will come to understand that when I'm with dad I don't get boob, I get lots of cuddles, my dummy/blankie/teddy, and we go for walks together. When you return to baby you will be rewarded with a breastfeeding snuggle of the most appreciative kind.
2. The breastfeeding mother is more likely to suffer PND
Not true. Up to 80% of mums experience the baby blues. This will go on to 1 in 7 experiencing PND no matter how you feed your baby. Breast feeding can be quiet protective against pnd thanks to the good hormones involved. Oxytocin, released when breastfeeding, is known as the love hormone and promotes mum and baby bonding.
if you recognize that the haze of baby blues is not lifting, talk with your partner or family, get off to your gp or child health nurse. It helps to talk. If medication is needed there are many safe options for the breastfeeding mum and baby. Some gps or ill advised family will encourage you to give up feeding, if this advice isn't what you want but follow anyway the mother can find her depression worsens as a result. Seek help first, then make the decision about how important continuing to breastfeed is to you.
3. My breasts don't get full between feeds anymore. My supply must be low
Anywhere from around 4 weeks postpartum the breasts become quite efficient at the milk making process and make just enough milk that the baby needs. For second and subsequent babies this might happen even sooner. You may never even get engorged at all. One thing to remember is that that full hard feeling you take as meaning lots of milk is actually a bad thing for your supply. Milk production is slowest when the breasts are full and your breasts begin to release a protein known as FIL (feedback inhibitor of lactation) which tell the breasts stop making milk because baby is not drinking this milk. If baby comes to the breast when ever she wants, even if it's the 10th time in 2 hours and you feel empty that's a good thing for your supply. The production is fastest when the volume of the breast is low.
4. Breastfeeding is not a reliable contraceptive
I know what you're thinking. But Breastfeeding can be up to 98% effective HOWEVER there are a few rules that need to be followed. If they are followed you are really quite protected against pregnancy, as much as condoms and even the mini pill. So the rules:
Baby must be less than 6 months old, menstruation not have returned, baby EXCLUSIVELY breastfeeding and probably most importantly baby NOT sleeping through the night. If any rules don't fit your situation, baby has some solids or starts sleeping through, a little egg could slip away and 9months later, baby. If you require a back up contraceptive and you are using hormonal options make sure they are progesterone only so not to reduce your milk supply.
5. Mothers who breastfeed older toddlers are only doing it for their own benefit
Any mother who has nursed an older baby would roll their eyes at this statement. The breastfeeding acrobatics a waddling toddler performs while latched to the breast or the logistics of the on again off again relationship of baby and breast in the course of a 5 or 10 minute feed are argument enough that breastfeeding the older baby isn't simply a walk in the park for mum. Having said that there are most defiantly benefits for mum to continue breastfeeding as long as she and baby are happy to. Nearly all the health benefits of breastfeeding are directly proportional to the length of time breastfeeding for both mum and baby. For example, the longer one breastfeeds the greater the mothers risk reduction of breast and other cancers, and for baby the risk of developing a plethora of diseases and illnesses are reduced the entire time breastfeeding continues and even well after.
Best wishes for your breastfeeding journey
Author: Louise is a midwife and international board certified lactation consultant In private practice servicing the Illawarra doing home visits or consultations in her fairy meadow clinic. Also teaching prenatal and breastfeeding classes Louise is passionate about helping women who want to over come any breastfeeding obstacles they may face. You can get more information on Louise here.