I'm in the final stretch of my pregnancy, just 27 days till my due date. In these quiet moments leading up to the birth of my first child I have been doing an obsessive amount of reading. I have been doing so much reading because I have found something in common with everyone I know who has been unsuccessful at breastfeeding: lack of accurate information. I feel strongly that knowledge is power. I have chosen to arm myself with as much powerful knowledge as possible. I have learned so many interesting things to help me prepare for the noble task of breastfeeding my baby.
I have learned how to express my own milk and have been able to express a few drops of colostrum since about 30 weeks pregnant. Seeing the yellowish drops coming out of my nipples makes me feel so enthusiastic about nursing. I have learned about the proper latch and how to be sure that the baby approaches the nipple from the right direction. I have read that the baby can achieve a proper latch every time if the nipple is lightly grazed from their chin up toward their mouth.
I learned about a technique that was used to be recommended, called RAM or Rapid Arm Movement. You would cradle the baby in your arm and with rapid movement thrust him at your nipple. Imagine sitting at the dinner table and having someone shove your face into a plate of food. A lot of women became frustrated and gave up nursing. Not realizing that their babies actually wanted to nurse and unable to figure out how to get their babies to latch to their breast these women turned to formula.
It is my understanding that a lot of women fail to nurse their babies for extended periods of time due to discomfort or lack of interest from the baby. Without having started the process myself, it seems that there are tools to correct an uncomfortable or irritating latch, as well as ways to pique the baby's interest in mom's breast. In talking with my own mother I understand that nursing, especially in the beginning can be difficult and anxiety provoking. There are just so many unanswered questions. Am I doing this right? Is the baby getting enough? Is there even any milk flowing? It can be very unnerving, but once you get going it can be very satisfying and relaxing. My mother actually said that once you stop you immediately wonder why you did because bottles are such a pain. Not only is there a lot more prep and clean up but the diapers are much more stinky too.
Nursing is a miracle that almost all of the world's mammals share. It is natural and inherent in our biology. With that being said, it can be emotionally, psychologically and even physically daunting for us humans. While the task of nursing will surely being as an uphill battle it seems to me to be one that is well worth the fight.