I’ve been accused of being all “rose colored glasses” about breastfeeding. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While I hold very tightly to my belief that “we were create for this”, I know (both firsthand and from so many encounters with other moms) that it isn’t as easy as simply putting baby to breast.
(wish I could properly credit this photo. I found it on half a dozen blogs but none contained a legitimate photo credit. So if it is yours, let me know!)
Many (I would even say most) moms encounter some sort of challenge in the first days. I feel like, in my first weeks, I was set up for failure by the “if it hurts, you have a bad latch” mentality (our latch was beautiful…other things were not). Some moms don’t know enough about the mechanics of how the breasts function in their little supply/demand dance. I’ve encountered mom after mom who became discouraged, despondent to realize how all consuming it can be in the first weeks. Some have no support system, no one cheering them on. But, each of these things? These can be turned around with some kind words, a little knowledge and a little time. As a lactation consultant, these kinds of issues are the everyday things I deal with and the places where I feel most comfortable.
But the mamas where it simply doesn’t work?
for reasons we are able to use our detective skills to determine.
and for those we can’t.
when we’ve tried every trick, every option and consulted everyone we know.
I’ve never seen such determination. I’ve never seen such willingness to forgo their own comfort and freedom. I’ve never seen more drive to give it one more day.
They have taught me more than the quick fixes.
I’ve been following a mom on twitter over the past few days who is really at a point of struggle with the whole thing. Frankly, the challenges and issues she has faced really suck (or not, as the case may be!) It is the longing of her heart to simply satisfy her child. And yet, she posts beautiful pictures of her baby and hopes for a better day tomorrow.
This mom…she is why the cry of my heart in regards to helping moms is “Know yourself. Know your baby.” I feel like we have spent an exorbinante amount of energy telling moms who they should and shouldn’t be as mothers. I remember attending a mother support type group one time and leaving, feeling like I couldn’t live up to their “expectations”. I found myself, in the future, trying to portray myself (though it wasn’t the truth) as “one of them” so I could belong. And frankly, it was exhausting. But I wanted to be seen as a “good” mom and felt like their checklist might be the key.
Brennan Manning, a Christian author and speaker who shares with incredible honesty and vulnerability, once came to speak at my small, evangelical college. While there, he pointedly said, “Stop shoulding all over yourself.” As someone who is a people pleaser to the very core of who I am, I’m constantly challenged by that. I find that sometimes, when working with moms, I need to remind them of the same.
Do not hear me say that I won’t fight hard for a mom to have the breastfeeding relationship she wants.
I will fight and fight…but I hope we will all know when it is time to stop and simply breath in deep the smell of the top of the baby’s head and say “It’s ok.”