If Everyone Would Stop Insisting That Breastfeeding Was ‘Natural’ And ‘Easy’ More Women Would Probably Stick To It

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2. It hurts.

Those of you who never experienced pain while breastfeeding are very lucky. In one study of 100 women, 96 of them experienced some pain the first week, which peaked in days three to six. Poor latch-on is usually responsible.

No one just naturally knows the right technique for teaching her baby how to latch. I know people will point to tribes of women who live off the land and don’t have any instruction and insist it’s the most natural thing ever – and we should all know how to do it. Bullshit. I’m sure those women are in a lot of pain, too.

Most babies will just put their mouths around anything in their general proximity and suck the hell out of it. It is very helpful to have someone show you the tricks for getting the whole areola into the babies mouth, so they’re not just sucking on your nipple. This is how cracked, sore, bleeding nipples happen. Not fun. If you are experiencing pain in the beginning stages of breastfeeding – you are not alone. It usually passes. If it doesn’t, you may have thrush or some other condition that needs to be medicated – but that too may pass with the right treatment.

3. Don’t be thrown off by your milk factory friends.

It is typical for a mother who is nursing full-time to be able to pump around 1/2 to 2 ounces total (for both breasts) per pumping session. Read that again. And again. There is nothing more stressful than pumping for 10 minutes and seeing an ounce of milk result. But it’s normal. 

There is always the woman who has a freezer full of milk and talks about how much it’s basically coming out of her ass. Don’t get thrown off. Keep pumping, stay the course, try not to get frustrated. And if you are really having supply issues, talk to your doctor about things that will help you increase your supply. I had what I thought were supply issues because with my first baby I didn’t know it was normal to produce 2oz or less per breast per pumping session. I introduced fenugreek. Problem solved.

I’m not giving the above advice to imply that all women can breastfeed, because that is just not true. I’m giving it to those of you who want to do it and are suffering through the first very hard days, to let you know you are not failing if you are experiencing any of the above. The most important thing to remember is that your comfort and sanity are the most important things right now. In my opinion, they’re more important than “succeeding” with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding isn’t the most “natural” and “easy” thing in the world. Don’t feel bad if you can’t do it.

(photo: Getty Images)

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