10 things that I as a doula, want all my clients to know about breastfeeding.
1) Yes, it is important!, it is one of the most important things you can do for your baby besides loving them.That doesn't mean that formula feeding moms need to feel bad for their choice or circumstance at all, but please know, yes it is important!!!.
breast milk has nutrients in it that formula just doesn't have. See this chart for a comparison http://www.bcbabyfriendly.ca/whatsinbreastmilkposter.pdf. Everything that is in breastmilk is what your baby naturally needs, despite what people say about formula and it being as good as breastmilk, it's not, it's all the basics and calories. It will sustain your baby. This is not to guilt trip formula feeding families at all, these are facts. Your baby is built to thrive on human breastmilk.
2) We live in a bottle feeding culture. This one is in the early stages of shifting, however, the fact remains that it is more acceptable to be seen bottle feeding your baby than breastfeeding it. Don't believe me? ask your self what you would feel more comfortable doing in the middle of walmart. Trying to modestly feed a baby at your breast, or pulling out a bottle to feed it?.
The other part of living in a bottle feeding culture is that people in general don't know how to breastfeed anymore. Breast milk has become the scapegoat for everything stressful about motherhood. The truth is, it's motherhood that is stressful, and what you feed your baby is just about the only thing you can control in those early, hormonal, sleepless, and stressful weeks of new motherhood. When people see you so stressed, they want to help. There are people who will unwittingly give you TERRIBLE advice on breastfeeding. What you are best to do, is find some local breastfeeding clinics before you have your baby, and do some reading, there are lots of free resources online.
Here's 2 good ones:
3) You can re lactate. Yup, that's a thing. Even mothers who have not given birth can sometimes induce lactation, and mothers who have long since dried up, can re lactate. Not only can you re lactate, but you can nurse a bottle fed baby. Yup, babies are hardwired for breast milk. You could take a 3 month old bottle fed baby and with some effort wean them off the bottle. Remember that, because sometimes early on babies are given bottles, and they get confused, they might give you a hard time breastfeeding. Stick it out and they will nurse!
4) Breastfeeding takes 2 people, it is 50% you and 50% your baby, If it is not working out at first and your feeling down and frustrated, just try to remember that the baby is learning to breastfeed right along with you.Just because breastfeeding is natural doesn't mean it's easy by any
means. It's natural to eat, but that doesn't make gardening or cooking
easy by default.
5) You are not a failure if you have turned to formula before, that doesn't mean that you just can't breastfeed babies and it's not worth trying again. It is worth it. Every feeding you can give your newborn is worth it. Colostrum is amazing stuff, and if that is all you can give your baby than do it!
6) Some mothers have 'other' reasons for choosing not to breastfeed, and that is ok. As your doula, I will never judge your choice not to, because I don't know everything about my clients.You could have a history of sexual abuse I don't know about and breastfeeding is trigger. If you need to not breastfeed for your sanity, I understand, but I will still give you all the facts so you can make an informed decision.
7) What you need is confidence, not a nursing pillow, or a nursing mothers tea, or those expensive breast pads, or special nursing mothers tank tops. These things (and more) are devices that we use to help us meet our goals. Bare essentials for breastfeeding are pretty much you and the baby, so don't get discouraged if you didn't get these things in time for the birth. It's more important to facilitate good care for yourself to encourage breastfeeding, such as having your partner home with you for more than a week, having family come to cook for you, do some dishes etc. Take a shower, go for a walk, Demand that someone bring you guacamole and nachos! These are the things that get you through those early weeks
8) You can bottle feed a breastfed baby and get a break once in awhile. The idea that pumping full time will give you more breaks and rest is a complete and utter garbage myth. You cannot escape motherhood so long as you're interested in being the one who looks after your baby. At first the idea seems appealing, but trust me, pumping comes with more inconveniences than most people know. yes, being stuck resting and having a baby at your breast for an entire month is boring, but so is sterilizing bottles and sitting down to pump everywhere you go. With nursing you never have to worry about washing, or running out of milk, and when the baby cries in the night, you can just lay down and nurse them. Bottle feeding= less sleep and more washing, unless you have a 24/7 live in nanny.
9) No matter how prepared you are, how much you read, purchase, research etc. the most important thing that will affect your ability to breastfeed a baby is having positive support from your family, and your care providers. If you are missing positive support it is even more important to seek out extra help before you give birth. Find your local la leche league meetings, find some convenient breastfeeding clinics and familiarize yourself with them.
10) There will be times when you get frustrated. That is OK. You may not have any issues at all breastfeeding, and that is OK
Some Local resources
Some good reading for mothers planning to breastfeed: