Hey, guess what?! I’m featured today on Natural Parents Network in an article I co-wrote with Kelly from Becoming Crunchy! Kelly and I decided to share our incredibly similar early breastfeeding experiences and this post is a companion to that, covering what I learned from those days to apply to my next breastfeeding relationship. If you’re curious about what Kelly learned, then head over to her blog today too.
My first ten days postpartum with Little Man were wonderful in many ways, but feeding him sucked. Literally as well as figuratively. Culminating in that very stressful multi-hour nursing strike. As I explained on NPN, the only reason my breastfeeding relationship continued after that was the good luck I had to have a couple of fabulous supporters amongst the many crappy ones I encountered. In the 14ish months I’ve had to process those events, I’ve come up with a plan that I know will make next time waaay smoother.
Appoint Dad team captain. You may be the starting pitcher, but Dad (or whomever is your partner in parenting) most definitely has a leadership role in those first few days. This was something that I actually got right last time, but that was by fluke. I’ll admit, I had vastly underestimated the importance of having a well informed and unwaveringly supportive husband. Knowing that he had just as much at stake in these decisions as I did, but that his cognitive abilities were unfettered by the hormonal turmoil I was experiencing, meant that I strongly relied on his opinion. It was lucky for me his opinion was right up my alley.
Get good help, ditch bad help. I know that it may not be possible for everyone to hire private postpartum support, but if you can, do! Our doula was our Boobie Fairie. We’ll be looking for someone equally wonderful here in Toronto next time. I’m going to give the public health nurses I saw the benefit of the doubt and say their intentions were likely good, but that doesn’t change the reality of their situation. They don’t work for me, nor do they answer to me. If they spend extra time helping me, they just have to cram the rest of their day into a shorter span – or maybe work overtime for no extra pay. Their next performance review will not be affected in any way by the status of my breastfeeding relationship. None of this is a recipe for my success. So next time, I’m cutting them out altogether. Bad support is even worse than no support.
Establish a ‘trust list’ ahead of time. I had done a lot of research which did help, but I didn’t organize it into any form that I could easily access or utilize in a pinch. I also completely overlooked the need to find tangible, local resources I could access in person. This was a result of underestimating how foggy-brained I’d be in the moments after giving birth. Ultimately, when we had our crisis, I didn’t know where to turn and I didn’t have the capacity at that point to find out. This time, there will be a list on the fridge of websites, books, local IBCLCs and breastfeeding clinics that I know I can trust for real support.
I’m not actually fooling myself into thinking breastfeeding my next baby will be a breeze. I know that I’ll run into a whole new set of challenges when I’m balancing a newborn and a toddler (who may still be nursing himself), and I may be writing another article like this some time down the line. I also know that it’ll be a lot easier if I make sure I’m not repeating previous mistakes on top of the new ones. In the mean time, I hope I can make another mama’s experience a smidge easier by sharing this and helping her to avoid my mistakes too!