Breastfeeding Is Hard
Updated: Apr 22
An honest look into the early days of breastfeeding
Welcome To Parenthood
Congratulations! After 9 long months, your new and precious baby has arrived! As you stare lovingly into your new bundle of joy's sparkling eyes, everything around you fades away and your only thought is that you vow to do everything that you can for this new life in your arms. You may have replayed this scenario in your mind a thousand times. Maybe it was during childhood as you cared for your baby dolls, wheeling them around in their little toy stroller. Perhaps it was more recently, as you received the wonderful and exciting news that you were expecting a new baby! Whenever these new thoughts began, you had to decide how to feed your baby.
Breastfeeding Is Hard!
If you have decided to breastfeed your baby, chances are that soon after your baby is born – almost immediately in fact – you will be given the opportunity to breastfeed your new baby. A postpartum nurse or an in-hospital lactation consultant, doula, or midwife will assist you in latching your baby onto your breast.
Sometimes moms learn while still in the hospital or birthing center. Others find out once they are discharged and sent home with their sweet new baby. Breastfeeding can be hard.
It can be very difficult to learn the proper way to position your baby, how to latch your baby to elicit successful milk transfer, how to choose the correct flange size – the list goes on.
Where Do You Begin?
But where does a new parent begin? There are so many opinions when it comes to breastfeeding or pumping for your baby. But how do you know what information to trust?
The truth about breastfeeding is that a breastfeeding parent will benefit from the support of their partner, family, and other breastfeeding families.
These support systems can help you give your baby the best start in life. Breastfeeding is natural and babies are born to breastfeed. It is the biological norm for mammals all over the globe, and humans are mammals.
During the early days after birth, some babies and breastfeeding parents need time to learn and get it right. What other people say may affect your breastfeeding experience. You may feel inclined, especially in the early days of your lactation journey, to compare yourself to other mothers that you see in mommy groups online.
Is Google The Answer?
As soon as you find yourself in need of lactation support, you may instinctively grab your phone or laptop and navigate to the internet. It may be easy to just Google your question and allow a search engine to decide what may be best for you and your baby when it comes to lactation. There are so many websites, blog posts, forums, and mommy groups that offer expert (as well as not-so-expert) advice. This advice may not always be the best because everyone is unique and a search engine will not match the needs of each individual person. The same goes for your baby and their individual needs.
Some babies are born premature, while others may be born with oral issues and dysfunction that may require a thorough assessment and treatment plan to address such as tongue, lip, or buccal ties.
How To Get The Best Support
The truth is that the best course of action, even though at first breastfeeding may be difficult, is to reach out for support from an IBCLC, also known as an International Board Certified lactation consultant.
An IBCLC is licensed and trained in the field and study of lactation and breast anatomy. An IBCLC undergoes a rigorous educational path to ensure that we are knowledgeable and competent to provide evidence-based care and education to parents. Unlike breastfeeding counselors, specialists, or volunteers, IBCLCs must have completed:
90 Hours of Lactation Education
1000 Hours Supervised Clinical Experience with Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies
Required College/University Courses
Infant and Child Growth and Development
Psychology or Counseling or Communication Skills
Introduction to Research
Sociology or Cultural Sensitivity or Cultural Anthropology
Basic life support (for example, CPR)
Occupational safety and security for health professionals
Professional ethics for health professionals
Universal safety precautions and infection control
Take and pass a rigorous and extensive 4 hour proctored exam
Meet continued education requirements to maintain licensure every 5 years
Breastfeeding support is available and highly encouraged to help all families learn the necessary tools and education to ensure that they are set up for maximum success and support in breastfeeding early on in their lactation journey.