We all know that breast milk is the best food for babies. However, in my last article I discovered that in my country only 21% of all of them get fed exclusively with breast milk in their first 6 months. Even in first world countries like the USA, this number do not go pass 50%. This, has made me think a lot about the challenges that mothers have in order to succeed at nursing. Since we are celebrating the World Breastfeeding Week I have decided to analize 5 critical moments my baby and me overcame in this process.
It seems breastfeeding is painful for most of us in the beginning. An incorrect latch can crack our nipples making us even cry.
In the hospital where my baby was born, staff did not seem too worried about this subject. It seems to me that their only interest was that the baby eat from the breast one way or another.
Even though I read a lot during pregancy, I did not know that breastfeeding counselors existed until much later. I didn’t know either that actually, breastfeeding should not hurt; not even in the very beginning.
Since I thought pain was normal I had to overcome it. I experimented with positions, imitated images and heal the cracks with coconut oil. I wish though other mothers can have access to counselors in both public and private institutions.
Teething was another painful moment. In the below link you can check my thoughts about this topic
2. The breastfeeding crisis
Breast milk is not always the same in terms of quantity and composition. This is perhaps one of the most significant benefits from it. As the baby grows milk changes to meet his needs. In order for this to happen the babies go through numerous crisis where they drink more or less milk, fight with the breast or cry desperately. These behaviors can make us believe that our milk is insufficient or poor in quality. It takes a lot of patience and cuddling to overcome each crisis.
3. The commitment
In the first year of life, milk is the main food of babies, therefor, they spend a lot of time in our chests; time that we used to dedicate to our favorite activities or to our friends and families. When we have a baby under a year old that nurses, there is no time for anything else, not even for cooking. Choosing to breastfeed takes a lot of committment. It is not surprising if we start feeling lonely and forgotten as I have written in another post.
I am usually a very positive person, I always try to remember that this is a stage, one that will not return. I try to entertain myself by reading or writing.
I have read many times that moms in general should try to create a ‘tribe’ around them in order to raise their children easily. Being away from my family has been hard because even the promises from many, in the end there are very few people who are willing to visit you and help you. My tribe has been an online group of moms from Latin America that I met in the Baby Center app. I do not know any of them but since we are all living the same experiences, we can give support to each other.
4. Breastfeeding naturalization
At first I use to cover myself to breastfeed until the day I got sick of the discomfort and the heat, especially in the area where I live.
So far I have never received mad faces for breastfeeding in public but I have begun to receive comments about the time I’m planning on nursing my baby. Unbelievably, even a doctor suggested weaning after she the year old although the WHO recommends doing it until 2 years ols. I know those comments will become more frequent the more she grows. Although I probably can not change the mentality of some, I hope this blog serves to fight away those myths. Breastfeeding is natural and my baby will nurse until we both want to.
5. Work issues
I consider myself a strong person. Few things lower my spirits but the difficulties in this issue have had me almost quit.
In my country, breastfeeding mothers are entitled by law to 1 hour of breastfeeding. Even though I have managed to work and breastfeed very succesfuly as I told you on my previous post I have also gone through many difficulties to access to the one hour right: bosses that do not collaborate or do not know the law and a system that does not allow acquiring the requirement to be able to access breastfeeding time has been my constant struggle for months. The last time, I just ended up literally paying for my right in a private clinic.
The only way to defend ourselves is to know the law and make it count as many times as necessary.
I have learned a very valuable lesson in this process:
Breastfeeding is empowering. It is an achievement that requires determination that we probably did not know we had.
What other difficulties did you have?