My heart sighs in sadness when I hear a new mom has given up breastfeeding. The reasons for stopping could be resolved with a single phone call to someone who cares and would support you. I know that this does not apply to all situations, so please don’t think that I’m trying to make a mom feel bad about the decision to stop nursing. I don’t know what is going on in her life, the pressures that you she is facing, or the lack of support from friends or family members. I am directing this to those moms that stop nursing early. For me and my extended breastfeeding life, early is before 6-8 months.
Some mother’s may think nothing of stopping at one day, 2 months, 4 months, etc. They figure that they gave it a good try, but it just didn’t work for them. They either could not get their baby to latch, they had a crappy latch, the mom’s breasts were cracking and sore, or they experience repeat bouts of mastitis followed by rounds of antibiotics and thrush treatments for mom or baby. Their breasts may feel too full, or empty. They may have a husband or mother/mother-in-law, that thinks it is weird for the baby to “still” be nursing at age, X, Y or Z. They are told repeatedly that the baby must not be getting enough, or the relative gave their own babies cereal or some other food and their babies slept through the night at that point.
The new mom decides to pump after every feeding because they are trying to build a milk supply for when they go back to work. These same moms’s start to freak out because they aren’t pumping some arbitrary number they have in their mind.
They may have a pediatrician that has no background in breastfeeding and supply and demand. This doctor may scare the mom’s that the baby isn’t up to birth weight and they need to supplement. The pediatrician doesn’t tell the mom that if she had the normal American McBirth experience, that all of those I.V. fluids they pumped into her body, got into the baby’s body and gave an artificially high baby weight. The same pediatrician will them that the mom shouldn’t nurse a baby at night-time after 6 months because a baby doesn’t need to drink at night. Or the pediatrician scares them that the baby’s teeth will rot if they nurse at night.
They may stop because they feel like they will get scolded at work for taking time to pump for their baby. They don’t think about the breast milk that they are feeding their baby while away, may be keeping them healthier and allowing them to stay at work while their baby is at daycare. The mom may also worry that at daycare of the handling of the breast milk and may think that it is just easier to have a can of formula there for just in case the baby gets hungry.
A mom may think that it will be easier to bottle feed with formula because she can see the exact amount that the baby is drinking and she’s heard that those breastfed babies tend to eat more often and she doesn’t want to wake up at night-time to feed. Little does she know that some babies just don’t sleep through the night and now instead of being able to offer a breast easily, she is going to have to trudge into the kitchen and get a bottle out of the fridge and warm it up. If she forgot to prepare the bottle, she will have to groggily prepare it while the baby is screaming it’s head off. Granted, with formula, dad could be up helping, but if you have that ultra-supportive husband that was complaining about you nursing, do you really think that he will happily wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby…doubtful.
A mom, may think that her OB/GYN will be able to give breastfeeding help or advice. Once again, most of them are not trained lactation consultants. Unless they have had more training, have nursed themselves or have had wives who have breastfeed and they actually watched or helped, they will have no clue. A lot of women, also don’t realize that at their six-week postpartum check up, that when they take that birth control prescription, that depending on the chemical makeup of the birth control, they may negatively affect their supply. Learn about alternative birth control methods before this visit. They are out there.
All of the above are scenarios that I’ve heard of. For a lot of these issues, just calling an experience breast-feeding mom, could have helped. Most moms’ that have adequate support around them will continue to have some type of breastfeeding relationship with their child. For a new mom to hear the experienced breast feeder say, “I understand, I know it is hard sometimes, but you can do this, it’s not too late to do something,” can help by just knowing that someone else has had difficulty too.
Or call your local La Leche League and ask one of these women that have been trained to be leaders on breastfeeding and ask them for advice over the phone. I called them. I was in tears a few days after Liam was born. I wasn’t sure he was latching correctly. Every time Liam went to latch, it would take my breath away because it was so painful. It is okay to admit that you don’t know what you are doing. The kind woman on the phone talked me through my issues and said I was doing things correctly. This was at 9pm at night.
If you don’t have a local chapter of LLL or think that these women with be too crunchy for you and just won’t get your issue, call your local lactation consultant. Not all lactation consultants are created equally. I’ve heard stories of some of them suggesting formula too easily.
Once again, this message is not directed at mom’s that have tried everything, have went for help, have done all of the things to get their milk supply up. I just want mother’s to know their resources. Locally there are a number of breastfeeding support groups and lactation consultants. It should never be embarrassing to ask for help with breastfeeding. It is a learned skill and each baby improves that skill. I didn’t know how to do it, but I knew that I would breastfeed. I knew that I would not keep formula in the house. I knew that if I ever needed help, I would not be afraid to ask. Please ask for help, as soon as you feel like you are having a problem. The longer you wait to resolve a breastfeeding issue, the harder it is to get mom and baby back on track
Chattanooga and North Georgia Le Leche League Leaders:
If you are unable to find help in your area, please call 877-4-LaLeche (877-452-5324), this is a 24-hour breastfeeding line that is toll-free.
Glenda Parks BSN, MSN, IBCLC
Sandy Riese RNC, IBCLC
Jill Tyson, BA, IBCLC