Thursday, August 1, 2013

Building a Solid Foundation for a Successful Breastfeeding Journey

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center
Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!
This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.
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I have to admit, years before I had my daughter when I was in my early 20s, the thought of breastfeeding was a concept that was hard for me to truly fathom. I had so many questions – how would my body know when I gave birth to start making milk? How would my baby know that my breasts were supposed to be her all-important food source? And would I experience that bond I had heard so many herald before when looking back on their experiences with fondness?
                Many of these questions became some of my biggest fears once I became pregnant with my first child in the second half of last year. Breastfeeding was always part of the expected journey of motherhood in my family, as my mother and paternal grandmother were very vocal in their admiration for their experiences breastfeeding. My mother, in particular, had always offered advice, anecdotes and “best practices” from her experience breastfeeding my younger sister and I. For certain, I always anticipated that breastfeeding would be a significant part of my mothering journey.
But once I became pregnant and joined popular pregnancy and childrearing social media sites, I became surrounded with countless stories of mothers who tried breastfeeding and failed because of a lack of support. Or because their milk would not come in. Or because their baby would not latch properly. Or because their baby had reflux. I also work in public health, and have access to hundreds of academic journals riddled with studies pointing to the many issues that could plague a woman from successfully breastfeeding. Although I am sure these websites had other intentions for their attentive members, I had been instantly engulfed by a fear that I would be an inadequate mother if I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed as so many others before me had.
As I got closer to my due date with my daughter, I began to embrace the idea that although I wholeheartedly wanted to breastfeed, I would not be disappointed in myself if various circumstances prevented me from successfully doing so. I wanted to do everything in my power to take care of my baby, and nourishing her however I had to (breastmilk or formula) would be my top priority. My fear gave way to an acceptance of whatever was to come. I completely cut myself off from the bulletin boards and social media pages teeming with posts of “horror stories” and only tapped into personal resources that I knew would offer me positivity during my time of preparation.
I have been able to successfully breastfeed my daughter since the day she was born as a result, I believe, of many factors. Firstly, it’s important to make sure your partner is vested in your desire to breastfeed. A 2004 study by Wolfberg et al. in the American journal of obstetrics and gynecology found that expectant fathers can be influential advocates for breastfeeding by playing a critical role in encouraging a woman to breastfeed her newborn. (1) In addition, a 2011 study by Rempel and Rempel found that fathers can serve as members of a successful breastfeeding team by being breastfeeding savvy, by using their knowledge to encourage and assist mothers in breastfeeding, by valuing the breastfeeding mothers and by sharing housework and child care. (2) I personally feel that this is a huge contributor to why I’ve been able to successfully breastfeed – if my husband was not supportive, I don’t see how it would have been realistically possible to exclusively breastfeed. Normalization of breastfeeding as a way to nourish your child primarily starts at home. If your partner is not particularly breastfeeding savvy, consider taking a course with him or her. Many Bradley Methods courses, like the one my husband and I took, will often have a breastfeeding module built into their series.
Secondly, it’s important to tap into family members and friends to learn and understand their breastfeeding experiences. Even if someone was not able to successfully breastfeed or didn’t even try, these types of individuals can still be a great support system for you. Why? Because even if a mother doesn’t understand the pain of an engorged breast or a cracked nipple, what mother truly doesn’t understand the sacrifice another mother makes for their child? Sharing my breastfeeding woes with my friends, like my daughter’s mild case of tongue tie, my engorged rock-hard breasts and my sleepless nights feeding my daughter on demand in the first 2 weeks of her life because of her high bilirubin count, literally saved my sanity. Being able to share your inner feelings, including fears, expectations and hopes for yourself, will be ensure that negativity doesn’t build up inside of you while trying to establish a breastfeeding routine with your child. Negativity can affect your milk supply, can limit your patience to help make sure your child latches firmly and consistently and can influence an overall poor breastfeeding experience for you. It’s better to be able to channel it elsewhere, believe me!
Lastly, be sure to ask those in your life who have successfully breastfed what resources they have utilized when they have had questions about breastfeeding. I wouldn’t have learned about “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” (a must-have book!) or Kelly Mom.com if I did not ask my friends what resources helped them throughout their journey. Things may come up while breastfeeding with your child (“Could ice cream make my baby gassy through my milk?” “Could I be making too much milk?” “How much spit-up is normal?”) in the middle of the night, and having these resources at your disposal are invaluable. They may even make the difference between a woman having the answer to a difficult predicament and giving up breastfeeding overall.
 I hope my story and advice has helped you in some way. Breastfeeding is a wonderful, beautiful part of motherhood for me, and I am really happy to have the opportunity to share my experience thus far, even though my journey is still rather fresh. Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,
Tia

(1) Wolfberg, AJ, et al. "Dads as breastfeeding advocates: results from a randomized controlled trial of an educational intervention." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 191.3 (2004): 708-712.

(2) Rempel, Lynn A., and John K. Rempel. "The breastfeeding team: the role of involved fathers in the breastfeeding family." Journal of Human Lactation 27.2 (2011): 115-121.

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World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Visit NursingFreedom.org and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today's participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:

(This list will be updated by afternoon August 1 with all the carnival links.)

  • If You're Worried About Your Kid Seeing Me Breastfeeding, You're Doing It Wrong — Dionna at Code Name: Mama is living the breastfeeding-as-a-cultural-norm dream. She has first-hand experience that kids, teens & adults who see breastfeeding accept breastfeeding.
  • Supporting Breastfeeding Online — Wendy at Breastfeeding Utah reaches out to birth and breastfeeding support professionals who are interested in knowing more about supporting their clients online.
  • Breast Friends — Mama Bree, guest posting at San Diego Breastfeeding Center, shares a baby's journey to blissful breastfeeding with a little help.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - Online Breastfeeding Support — Other than buying and reading up on books, Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy finds that it is useful to read up on other mums’ breastfeeding experiences and how they deal with their obstacles.
  • It Takes a Village... — Meredith at Thank You Ma'am talks about the support she got from her family, especially from her own mom, who is a lactation consultant.
  • Community Support — Ashley at ModerationMama tells about her supportive community surrounding her breastfeeding journey, and she talks about the importance of the breastfeeding class she took while still pregnant.
  • Finding a Nanny to Be Part of My Village — Before returning to work, Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen, posting at Natural Parents Network, needed to find a trusted caregiver for her daughter. Someone who supported her parenting goals and was ready to become part of a family.
  • A Nursey Love Letter — When asked about her nursing support group, KassK of Get Born Tribe surprised herself with the answer: her husband!
  • We are mammals. — To be a mammal . . . what does that mean? Practicing Mammal educates us.
  • Building a Solid Foundation for a Successful Breastfeeding Journey — Tia at Tia's Sweeps Go 'Round shares how she built a strong support network to help her successfully breastfeed her newborn daughter.
  • Stubbornness and Support: My Breastfeeding Journey — Diana at Munchkin's Mommy shares her breastfeeding journey, from unhelpful nurses to a gentle guide, and her sheer stubbornness.
  • Looking online for breastfeeding support — The author at "Just" A Mom has found many ways to use the internet to support her mothering and breastfeeding journey, and she has learned how to keep her online experiences positive.
  • The Village that didn't feed — Nona's Nipples at The Touch of Life explains how our communities influence our choices. She explains how she came to breastfeed and how it was taken away.
  • Nursing By Example — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births decided to nurse through a pregnancy and to try tandem nursing thanks to the support from her La Leche League leader and another mother in her community. Read about the resources that were helpful and the lessons she learned on her journey into tandem nursing.
  • A Burden Shared: How my IBCLC Lightened my Load — My IBCLC rocks!! smscott at In All Things...One Step at a Time's journey would not be possible without a huge contribution of time and energy from her IBCLC. Her difficult times were measured in weeks and months instead of moments.
  • Fathers Need Breastfeeding Support Too — Destany at They Are All of Me recalls that the biggest detriment to her breastfeeding success was her husband's strong disapproval.
  • Breastfeeding Support Over the Years — Valerie at Momma in Progress discusses the range of support she received over her seven-year breastfeeding journey.
  • Uncharted Territory: Breastfeeding — Michelle at Oh, The Simple Joys describes her change of heart regarding breastfeeding and the kind souls who helped along the way. From thinking formula was the norm to extended ecological breastfeeding, this is her story. Her story also includes breastfeeding after a hospital birth, dealing with inverted nipples, and the lactation consultant who helped to name her daughter.
  • Online Breastfeeding Support: Finding Success, Acceptance and Friendships — Author and CLEC Lara Audelo of Virtual Breastfeeding Culture shares how online breastfeeding support changed her entire life, and why so many mothers are drawn to it, rely upon it, and place such value on their virtual mother-to-mother connections.
  • Staying Connected---Online Breastfeeding Support for AD Military MomsBreastfeeding in Combat Boots shares how important online support is to the success of breastfeeding for mothers serving in the military.
  • Breastfeeding and Community — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work discusses ways in which community affects breastfeeding dyads and makes suggestions for accepting and supporting nursing as normal and necessary.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - Community Support — Jenny at I'm a full-time mummy has been breastfeeding NON-STOP since 4th March 2009, the day her first child Benjamin was born. Jenny shares who has been in her community of breastfeeding supporters.
  • Oversupply as a Blessing in Disguise: Milk Sharing and Wet Nursing — Tooele Birth and Breastfeeding, guest posting at Code Name: Mama, tells how she ended up donating breastmilk and wet nursing several babies. She shares the benefits from both a recipient and a donor.

16 comments:

  1. I totally agree that support is so vital! Each new Mama's bf journey may be different but with help and support it can prevent so many from giving up simply because of frustration.

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    1. So true! No matter your journey is, having people around you that you trust and love will help immensely :)

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  2. This is a great post. My DIL was so ready to breastfeed and when there were complications she was devastated. Luckily she pumped for quite awhile and went to a support group. She breastfeeds now w/o a problem, but it was a big challenge to get to where she is now.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that story... it definitely isn't easy. Breastfeeding is certainly a challenge but with the right support system, it can definitely be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime.

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  3. Yes support is very important! Thanks for posting.

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  4. I enjoyed breastfeeding my kids their first year of life.

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    1. I really hope I end up making it to a year :) It's certainly a great experience and I'm glad you had that experience for yourself

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  5. Support is so important! My (now ex) husband was instrumental in our family's breastfeeding success. I had a C-section and my twins were premature. I didn't get to see them until they were 36 hours old, but their dad made sure the hospital got me a breastpump immediately after I delivered. He also held a baby so I could tandem nurse when they were too weak for one pair of arms to be enough for both babies!

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    1. That is a fantastic example of how breastfeeding takes two for it to really be successful :) Thanks for sharing

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  6. Love these tips! Will be sharing this post with my pregnant friends!

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  7. I breastfed 2 of my four children and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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    1. that's great :) it's quite the amazing experience

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  8. Thank you so much! I breastfed both of my boys and I love it when I see other moms making the same choice. Posts like this are so great since they really show just how important and fantasic breastfeeding it!

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  9. Love your advice here about tapping into your support network. The first few weeks with both my babies, it seemed like they fed around the clock. I don't know how I would have managed without my husband taking on all the household chores and basically waiting on me. DD1 went to 34 months, and DD2 is at a year and still going strong. :-)

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