“Breast is best”. From the minute you realise you are pregnant, these words are programmed into your brain and after people ask whether you are giving vaginal birth, or having a c-section, they ask if you plan to breastfeed. After the baby is born, it’s the second question people ask. (After asking how you brought your baby into the world!)
Many mothers choose not to breastfeed for their own good reasons. Many women try to breastfeed and for whatever reason are not successful. For some people it’s really easy and “just happens” like the natural process it is meant to be. Others have more trouble and need a little help. More often than not, those that are meant to help and support, cause even more mothers who would have successfully breastfed their babies to stop trying.
The experience of having your breast grabbed and squeezed and pushed and pulled, while at the same time you are watching someone grab hold of your little baby’s head and forcing it toward a breast and trying to compel the two to make contact, does not to my mind encourage anything but anxiety. In the time my baby was in hospital, I experienced this over and over: the minute they stopped trying to help, I could relax, the baby would latch and and feed fine.
Nurses and breastfeeding consultants are supposed to be there to help you with this process, but more often than not, their “I-know-how-to-do-this-because-I-work-with-this-every-day-and-you-are-a-first-time-mother-and-therefor-you-know-nothing-attitude” ends in tears – both baby’s and mother’s. And it’s as if these nurses don’t care – they just walk away and make you as the mother feel inadequate, or somehow less of a mother, or less of a woman. And then, just as you feel you are getting it right, the shift changes and the next nurse arrives to tell you that you are doing it all wrong and shows you a different way to fail.
Every mother I have spoken to shares this sentiment – they succeeded in breastfeeding, not because of the help they received, but despite it! It seems the more breastfeeding is advocated for, the more healthcare personnel force the issue and more mothers go home feeling like they have failed at the first basic task that they were assigned as a mother.