I WANT TO BREASTFEED MY BABY - BUT I'M WORRIED, WHAT IF I CAN'T, WHAT IF IT'S TOO HARD. I SEE ALL THESE NEW MUMS STRUGGLING TO FEED AND I AM GETTING NERVOUS
I am so glad that you intend to breastfeed your baby and let me re-assure you that breastfeeding can be difficult for a lot of us, so you will not be alone.
Remember that breastfeeding is a new skill that you and your baby need to learn and learning anything takes a bit of effort and practice.
The most important thing is to get some non-judgemental support. This could be from a Lactation Specialist who will help to establish you on your breastfeeding journey with your baby. They will help you with the latch, advise you on how to hold your baby and maybe teach your partner how to support you, amongst other things. It may be from a friend who has been through it before and can empathise with how tough it is when you are tired and frustrated and your nipples are sore. You may even join a postpartum circle, where the stories of other women could resonate and make you feel strong enough to keep going when it feels hard.
So, the key thing is to make sure you get the right physical and emotional support. This is essential for your mental health.
And if you need some encouragement right now, read on:
It is recommended that we exclusively feed our babies breastmilk for the first 6 months of their lives. Breastmilk contains literally everything our babies need – it quenches their thirst, fills their little tummies, keeps them growing and supplies them with the perfect set of antibodies that they need to survive in their environment. It is the Food of Love and brings you closer to your baby every day and even if you feed for 1 day you have already given your child a wonderful start in life because the antibodies in your colostrum provide natural immunity from infection.
As well as protecting baba from various infections, helping with their transition into the world outside the womb, and countless other scientifically researched benefits, the added bonus of breastfeeding is that it also has advantages for mama! Besides the feeling of connection and empowerment you will feel from feeding your baby, there are also significant health benefits. At the start, breastfeeding helps the womb to contract towards normal size, you will have a reduced risk of ovarian cancer in later life, lower risk of Type II diabetes in the long term and the risk of breast cancer is reduced by an average of eight per cent if you feed up to 2 years.
And if you really can’t breastfeed, expressing and feeding your baby will result in similar benefits, because the goodness of your milk is just undeniable. Either way, your babies will thank you for the rest of their lives.