Fear vs Reality
Posted By: Sarah Strapp
I am eager, anxious, nervous, and exciting to get this baby to my breast.
I am the youngest of three with an older sister and an older brother. My brother has two kids, but let's be honest: he doesn't know a thing about nursing. My sister is my best friend and the most amazing woman in the world but she does not have any children so she has no real insight either. My mother nursed all three of us for four months each. My mom is my first point of contact for all matters related to nursing.
There is something so primal inside of me that is excited to begin nursing. But there are also so many fears, so many questions. What if I don't get it right at first, what if I never get it right? How will I know that the baby is getting enough to eat? What if, no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I educate myself, no matter how much help I seek out, I am unable to nurse my baby? There is one lesson that I have learned throughout my life experience that remains true every day: Don't ask "what if," just live.
I understand that nursing is something that a woman's body is designed to do. In all of the reading and research I have done it seems like a determined woman can triumph even the most seemingly insurmountable odds. There is a story of a baby who was adopted by its grandmother after the death of its mother. The grandmother brought the baby to her breast because she thought it would comfort the baby. After three days of the baby suckling at her breast the grandmother, shockingly, began producing milk. She went on to nurse her grandbaby until it was 18 months old. If a grandmother can summon her milk from nowhere, I will surely be able to get something going as my baby is being born.
During the third trimester a woman's body begins producing a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin is the hormone that stimulates milk production. Prolactin is also produced when your baby stimulates your nipple during suckling. The prolactin triggers the breasts to fill with milk. By understanding the biomechanics of breastfeeding, I am comforted to know that this process should, biologically, work for me. It may be difficult, but I should be able to do it...right?
I guess its natural to be filled with self-doubt, especially with such a daunting task as parenting. Even thinking about what to name this child is scary! I mean, this will be his name for the rest of his life. Self-doubt seems to rear its ugly head at every major crossroads in most women's lives. Pregnancy and childbirth are no different, and nursing is no different. With my mother's encouragement and my husband, sister and brother cheering me on I am sure I will be able to get my baby nursing at my breast. My fears will only get in the way. I need to let my knowledge and confidence shine through to achieve my goal of nursing my baby for as long as possible.4:04pm on Tuesday September 7
I don't know if I agree that it's normal to be filled with self-doubt about breastfeeding. It is what (the majority of) our bodies were built to do and are completely capable of, if given the proper education and support. Actually having this much anxiety won't help you. You seem very well-prepared and knowledgeable. Try to relax! You'll know your baby is "getting enough" because s/he will gain weight, have lots of wet and dirty diapers, and seem content after a feeding. Don't kid yourself, just because you can see how many ounces a bottle-fed baby has taken, doesn't mean you really know any more information about them. Bottle-feeding (particularly formula) comes with lots of complications of its own. Trust your baby and your body, arm yourself with knowledge and the numbers for a good IBCLC and your local LLL leaders, then RELAX and ENJOY!
I have found my brothers to be great supporters of breastfeeding, even though they have no children. Just hearing words of encouragement and support are really helpful from the family you see a lot!