I just read a story about human mammals and eating which really intrigued me.
At first glance, I didn’t understand the author’s point. I thought, is she another breastfeeding hater? Saying breastfeeding sucks? No! This dietician has gotten the message that no one likes to be forced to do anything! Whether we are a baby, a child, a teen, or an adult, eating the healthiest way possible might be something we have to ease into.
This mother was so desperately trying to nurse her baby that it was not joyful for either of them. Eventually her baby said, “Enough!”, and refused to nurse anymore. Only when the author backed off on breastfeeding was the baby able to think about enjoying it again. This mom pumped her milk, I imagine did skin to skin, lots of snuggling, and then one day, her baby said, “I want to do this again! It is my mammal thing to do.”
Breastfeeding is, in my opinion, baby’s first milestone. They are biologically program to do it. However, if it is hard, painful, stressful, for mother or baby, these things can interfere with mother and baby’s natural abilities.
So many times parents are told to “try” to breastfeed eight times per day even if both mother and baby are crying at each feed with a baby who has not latched. I frequently suggest to families if it is not working, back off! I have families who have never enjoyed their babies because of being so stressed about getting breastfeeding right from the beginning.
Getting off to a good start is important. But oxytocin is a big part of having a good start. This love hormone helps everyone figure out what to do. Pain and stress lower oxytocin. Skin to skin and snuggling raise oxytocin. I have mothers spend large chunks of time each day with their babies instead of wrestling at the breast. This allows them each to slow down and learn about each other. Often if mothers do this babies take the lead and show them what they need to breastfeed successfully.
Making someone try to do something often doesn’t work. We can only set up our babies and children for success and love and support them while they work on growing. I do suggest that you get help with breastfeeding if it is not going well. Don’t sit alone while doing this. An experienced IBCLC can help. Check out Suzanne Colson’s work on her Biological Nurturing site.
If things are going perfectly with breastfeeding from the beginning. Don’t panic! Time is a healer of many things. Getting help and support are the keys to success, not crying at the breast.