Countering the Myths of the Dominant CultureThe breastfeeding journey, like birth and life itself, is unique for each and every mother. For some, breastfeeding is relatively seamless, but for many it can be a difficult experience that requires lots of effort, time and support to get the hang of. At a time when nursing our babies has dropped away from dominant culture as the norm, it is ever more important for a new mama to surround herself with friends and family who have also nursed and can provide support, as well as resources that debunk the myths surrounding breastfeeding. Here are my top tips and truths to remember as you set out on your breastfeeding journey:
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin. Keep baby with you as much as possible. Wear your baby to maintain the skin-to-skin connection. There is no such thing as holding your baby too much. Skin-to-skin increases milk supply and reinforces your breast and your body as the safe place to receive all baby’s physical and emotional needs. Countering the myth: "Don’t hold your baby too much, you can spoil your baby."
- The family bed is a natural way to raise your baby, to get more sleep, and maintain a full milk supply. Tapping into our nighttime supply makes more milk (see Dr James McKenna’s book, Safe Infant Sleep. He has coined the word “Breastsleeping”). Countering the myth: "Co-sleeping is dangerous."
- The baby establishes the feeding pattern. They know when they’re hungry. Once it is established that your baby wakes when hungry and is able to gain weight at breast, let your baby establish and maintain your full milk supply. Countering the myth: "All babies have the same feeding requirement and should be scheduled."
- Babies need your soothing touch. Babies are soothed by connection with their mothers and fathers through all their senses: sight, your touch, your voice, your smell, and your loving connection. This ability to connect and soothe stays with them for their entire lives. When your baby is in your arms, on your chest, your baby is “HOME”. Countering the myth: "Babies need to learn to self soothe."
- Babies are meant to wake throughout the night for the first year to feed. It’s this nighttime feeding and connecting that helps establish a full milk supply. Learn to rest when you can during the day and find ways to get to bed early, as much as you can, to get the sleep you need. Countering the myth: "Babies can and should be taught to sleep through the night."
- Your colostrum is baby’s first food. It is filled with an incredibly rich amount of IgG and IgA. This first food establishes a strong immune system. Your colostrum is all baby needs for the first few days of life (your newborn’s tummy is the size of a marble). Baby should begin to gain weight by 5-7 days of life and should be back to birth weight by about 2 weeks. Countering the myth: "Babies need to gain weight in the first days after birth."
And other tips:
- Breastfeeding is vested in the baby. When placed on your chest skin-to-skin, your baby has instincts to crawl to the breast and feed all by itself. Learn to watch and read your babies cues. “It’s all about attunement to the baby.” - Dr. Gabor Maté
- Trusting your body, your baby, and your instincts is the most important thing.
- Having a lactation consultant in the early days helps establish your confidence that baby is able to get what they need at breast. Find a lactation consultant that helps build your confidence and that you resonate with.
Jennifer Davidson, RN, IBCLC, and co producer of the documentary The Milky Way, is a pediatric nurse and lactation consultant at the pediatric practice of Dr. Jay Gordon MD in Santa Monica, CA. After years of working with mothers and babies Jennifer recognized a consistent need to provide her clients with essential tools to enable them to trust their bodies, trust their babies, and trust themselves, especially during the early days of new motherhood.
The content provided in this article(s) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Neither Carson Meyer nor C & The Moon LLC are liable for claims arising from the use of or reliance on information contained in this article.