It’s natural so it must be easy right?
I am a planner by nature, and when I was pregnant with my son in 2006 I planned everything. I was going to breastfeed, it’s natural, it’s what my boob are for, it will be seamless. Or so I thought. As it turned out it wasn’t easy at all, not at first anyway. After he was born the nurse helped me get him latched on, he played, but was mildly interested. I knew from all my research that he was born he had reserves, he wasn’t going to starve. He roomed in with me and we tried to nurse every few hours, sometimes he sucked usually he just got cozy and fell asleep. He started loosing weight, I started getting worried, he was loosing weight and still not really getting anything from my breast. This is a point when I could have asked for formula but I didn’t , not because I am a martyr, because I had support to keep going.
In walked the Lactation Consultant ( click to find one in your area) , these women aren’t paid enough, seriously she was a godsend. She showed me positions that my son would stay awake to nurse in, tricks to keep him going and ways to maximize the time he was awake and sucking. She also showed my husband how he could be a part of this all, he could support me and not just watch from the sidelines. This as it turned out was probably the most valuable piece of early support. Involving the non nursing partner. Whoever is your greatest support, involving them in the ins and outs of nursing makes a huge difference.
After we got home I continued to nurse but it was anything but easy, my son’s sleepiness continued and we’d have to strip him down to his diaper, tickle his feet and at times even put a cool wash cloth on him simply to keep him awake to eat. I was in the midst of post partum hormones and this made me feel barbaric, but my husband stepped in and reassured me, wiped my tears and cheered me on. Eventually my son started gaining. I was resolute when I was pregnant with my son that’s I”d nurse, but at 1, 3 and 5 am when I was fighting him to keep him awake I wouldn’t have made it without my husband’s support.
Your partner isn’t the only place to find support. I know that when my son was nearing a year old and till almost exclusively breastfed I started to hear ” Are you still doing that?” and although my husband trusted my judgment he didn’t really get why I wanted to keep going. This is when I sought out support elsewhere, online, and in real life. La Leche League is such a fantastic organization, they are committed to helping nursing moms and contrary to some popular sentiment are there to help not preach or judge. I adored my time there with like minded moms offering support and friendship. There is a ton of support online as well, LLL forums, Mothering and Kellymom are all fantastic. So if you aren’t getting it at home it’s available, don’t give up.
We may have had a rocky start but the support I got at home, online and from the community made all the difference . My son nursed until he was two and a half proving that a little support goes a long way!