When I was pregnant, so many women told me that breastfeeding was hard (it is one of the major reasons for moms to switch from breastfeeding to formula), that it didn’t come naturally and was a painful and trying experience. The rest of the world, including all healthcare professionals I came across -pre and post natal- pretended like every mother should somehow know what to do, instinctively be able to handle it like a pro and quite honestly excel at it, at all times.
Because I was warned by many mommies who were honest about the experience, I started reading up on breastfeeding way ahead of delivery. I would have, without exaggeration, read over 50 articles and watched pretty much the same number of videos on it before giving birth. I still continue to read up more and more on pumping, storing and bottle-feeding breast milk to your infant. Learning the biology of how your breasts, nipples and milk ducts function and how the baby’s mouth, tongue and palate work during the process, helped me so much in understanding the dreaded ‘latch’ (and unlatch). And because of this, by the time I had the baby, breastfeeding wasn’t too difficult for me. I needed practice, but it was overall smooth sailing. And this was NOT because it came naturally to me or because I was somehow better at it, but because I had so much information I could refer back to when in doubt or when things seemed uncertain. Also much of what I’ve read and seen became practically useful. The reality of breastfeeding was made much easier for me only because I was well informed.
So many moms are left without this knowledge because our healthcare system completely ignores the importance of the guidance and awareness that is required by new moms who breastfeed. It’s something that is dangerously lacking in post-natal care, in Sri Lanka right now.
Awareness and information is key to healthy breastfeeding. Make sure you ask hospital staff and doctors for help. Don’t feel ashamed. It’s not a skill that every new mother miraculously masters overnight. Spread the word and share your experiences. Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be difficult or painful. It’s an amazing experience that bonds you to your child, so enjoy it and make the most of it.