I have to admit that when I was pregnant with my first child, I remember feeling more worried about being able to breastfeed than the labour or even having a newborn to look after and how that might change mine and my husband’s lives. Breastfeeding is such an emotive topic and I have seen at first hand how women feeling the pressure to breastfeed can lead to much distress, anxiety and even contribute to postnatal depression. I was desperate to breastfeed and so determined to do it that even when my daughter had an undiagnosed tongue tie and each feed was really painful, I persevered and in the end it was a success but not without a lot of stress along the way!
I have since thought a lot about this. Breastfeeding is the most natural option for your baby but women often feel anxious about breastfeeding before they’ve even started. The expectations are set – ‘the baby will latch instinctively, and it will be totally pain free’, I’ve heard some women say they have been told. In reality, even for the smoothest of latches it can still be sore at the beginning of each feed. This is as your nipples are adjusting. It is normal and makes sense. It’s not really talked about however.
It’s a very polarizing subject. I do think that we need to recognise women’s anxieties, which are very normal and as health professionals guide women to the right help. That might be your local breastfeeding support group, a tongue tie specialist or a lactation consultant. It’s important as well to not ask for help from too many different sources as this can be confusing. The bottom line is ask ask ask… The midwife on the postnatal ward before you leave the hospital, your health visitor when you get home or your GP as they can normally direct you to support. Don’t struggle alone as so many women will be feeling the same way. There is help out there. Before you have your baby, look up your local support services as you don’t want to be trawling Google day 3 postnatal with a screaming baby as I did!
For lots more information on feeding your newborn baby, whichever way you chose to do it, see our unique, expert-led Antenatal Classes at www.bumptocradle.com.