There are some things that I’ve learned from others through commonly repeated advice. Other things I’ve had to learn on my own. The following is a short list of things to keep in mind about some common situations that new breastfeeding mothers frequently face, and that I wish I had known in the very very early beginning of things. This advice is much less about the “how to” of breastfeeding and more the “how to” of dealing with how everyone around you contributes or detracts from your breastfeeding experience.
1- Everyone will have advice. Most of it will be terrible. Only accept help from those who have met or exceeded your minimum goals. You wouldn’t learn to drive from the uncle that failed his driving test three times and still doesn’t have his license. Don’t accept advice from the people that gave up after 3 weeks, 3 months or whose babies “weaned” before a year. Unless their advice comes in the form of “I learned after the fact that I was sabotaged by xyz. AVOID DOING THAT AT ALL COSTS!” Tip learned: Only take advice from those that managed to do what you wish to manage to do.
2- Nurses are NOT lactation consultants. And often hospitals that say they have a lactation consultant on duty 24/7 are lying. Test the theory. On a hospital tour? They say they have a LC on duty 24/7? Ask to meet her. She busy? Ask to lay eyes upon her in all of her LC-glory. And ask about what certification she has. Lactation Consultants are not all created equally and people are pretty lax on what they call a Lactation Consultant sometimes. I learned this the hard way when on night two with my second son who was refusing to latch after a non-LC nurse “helped” him latch on with the most terrible and aggressive methods.. I walked down to the nurse’s station and asked to see the LC and was told that if I was worried I could just give formula. Right. 24/7 LC. Perhaps there was and I just got Nurse Cranky. I shall never know. My son never got formula. I hand expressed and finger-fed him until my mother got into town the next day, and latched him on as best as I could. My mom helped me relax and once we were out of the hospital the booger latched on and went on to nurse for 3 years. Tip learned: Nurses are not LC’s. You will likely have to hire your own LC. Bring phone numbers. Or be otherwise-well-educated. And stubborn.
3- Any family member that claims that they cannot bond without a bottle will not bond WITH the bottle. Some people are insecure and have been tricked/conditioned into believing that they have to provide nourishment for a baby to like them. Bogus. This mostly guarantees that mom’s going to end up dealing with all sorts of issues with supply, nipple confusion, shredded nipples, bottle/flow preference, etc. And that family member that needed the bottle to bond? Chances are pretty good that their bond is going to involve them handing an angry screechy baby back to you after the bottle milk runs out. No. Bonding is EVERYTHING BUT the feeding. It’s the comforting, the rocking, the dancing, the soothing, the singing, the reading-to, the baby-wearing, the offering of the pinky as a pacifier, the holding, the loving, the talking-to, the walking-with, the snuggling, and baby understanding that if they cry that family member will come to pick them up, will recognize their feeding cues (rooting, mouth o’s) and will bring baby to the source of baby’s food. Mom. The most bonded people I have ever seen are those who didn’t feed the baby from a bottle. The only person that I ever pumped for “for bonding purposes” was the least bonded person that I ever witnessed in my life. Tip learned: Bottles do not equal bonding.
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