Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Don't Try, Do!!

In getting myself prepared for having an infant again, I have been thinking a lot of nursing. I have a friend who struggled in the beginning with breastfeeding with both her children, but never considered giving up and after the rough start, found that it became easier.

I never struggled with nursing Smug-Baby, not really. I was very worried about it in the beginning because she was two weeks old before I got her home and was able to really work at establishing nursing and then she was a sleepy baby (my how times have changed) and would only nurse a few minutes before going back to sleep.

I had rough patches, like a breast infection and some engorgement in the very early days and another breast infection caused by a plugged duct a few months in and a bout of thrush, but really that was the extent of my issues. I am grateful that I didn't have major supply problems or a string of infections or thrush I couldn't get rid of and I have high hopes that my nursing experience with Little-Smug will be just as wonderful and I will love it as much as I did with Smug-Baby.

However, I do know that it isn't easy for many women. I am very lucky to have 24/7 support for nursing from my mother, who is a retired lactation consultant. I was also not shy about asking for help when it came to the issues I did experience. I called mom in the middle of the night, I called the LC's at the hospital for a second opinion, I called my doula and my friend who is a midwife. They all have their areas of strength and I wanted all the thoughts, opinions and options anyone and everyone with knowledge could think of so I would have the best chance of hitting upon something that worked.

I hear women all the time say that they would like to "try" breastfeeding, like there is an option (I do know that there is a <1% chance that a woman will be unable to nurse due to a very uncommon birth defect that causes her milk ducts not to have developed, but since that is extremely rare I am not dealing with it in this post). In my mind, there was never an option to give Smug-Baby formula. If you were stranded on a dessert island, you would find a way to feed your baby without formula and that was the approach I took toward breastfeeding. It was the ONLY option and so I needed to make sure that it worked and worked well!

I would encourage pregnant women to stop thinking about "trying" and start thinking about "doing". We don't try to take our prenatal vitamins, we do it because we know that it is important for our baby's development. We don't try to stay away from tuna, we don't eat it because we know the high concentrations of mercury can harm our growing baby! Why then would we "try" to feed our baby the very best, most complete, totally perfect food possible??

If you commit to something fully, like becoming a vegetarian, running a marathon, or getting an advanced degree, you would research completely what you are getting ready to undertake. You would set up your support system and have as much knowledge and support at your fingertips as possible before you start. You certainly wouldn't just show up to run a 10K after sitting on the couch for the last 5 years, you would start by talking to others who run, you would maybe meet up with a trainer or a running support group who could help you set up a plan for success.

Nursing is the same way, you commit to it and then you set up your support system. You go to LLL meetings, you set up a consultation with the LC's on staff at the hospital where you will deliver, when in labor your birth plan tells the nurses helping you to set up a consult with the LC as soon as the baby is born, you call the LC's and LLL leaders for help and support as soon as you get home to help catch issues before they become huge and you lean on other nursing mothers that you know for support!! Success in breastfeeding is like success in anything else. It is a mindset of failure not being an option and getting yourself the help you need as soon as you need it!!

Don't try breastfeeding, do it!!!

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