Guide 1: Mothers Nursing Babies – Misconceptions

5 min read

Newborns. Babies. Breastfeeding. Nursing.

Ah, the amazement and wonders after a baby is born, is in the abundance.

In this article, we shall first address a real problem that lies in the very heart of success that can make or break a mother’s breastfeeding journey. Misconceptions and false expectations of breastfeeding.

Bliss~

A relaxed, calm and contented image of a mother with her hair in place, smiling at her little bub nursing peacefully in her arms and relaxing herself on cosy and plump sofa in a comfortable room with dim lighting will be what many people in the general masses will visualize mothers nursing babies.

No Problem?

It’s natural. They say.
It should be easy. They say.
It is what nature intended. They say.
There should be no problem about doing this.

Right?

Suckle, child, suckle.

Expectation Vs Reality of Breastfeeding A Newborn

Unfortunately, breastfeeding is not as easy as what people imagined.

We have to re-address this misconception that breastfeeding is and would be naturally easy for many mothers. This is especially important for mothers-to-be and already-mothers who are interested to successfully breastfeed for the first time. This is also important for the society to understand, because the society is also where the social circle of the mother is part of, and social circles is actually very crucial aspect of a mother’s breastfeeding journey.

Well yes, nature has it so that a mother’s body will begin to produce what is called colostrum, or rather what people often mistook it as milk, after she gave birth to her newborn.

Yes, nature has it so that the newborn will naturally open their mouth, bopping their head here and there on their still fragile neck, to find his or her mother’s nipple to suckle on.

Well. Nope. Breastfeeding does not come as naturally as it should. Neither to the mother, nor the baby.

Nope, it is not as easy and simple as reciting the ABCs.

Anddd nope, this doesn’t come with any instruction manuals.

What breastfeeding is, is that nursing a baby is a learning journey. From the moment the baby is born, till the moment the baby is weaned off momma’s breasts or momma’s milk, and every single moment of the breastfeeding journey, both the baby and the mother will learn something new. There will always be new tips, new discoveries, new experiences that both the baby and mother will get to benefit from.

One major reason why breastfeeding is actually not an easy journey, stems from false expectations from society as well as the mothers themselves, and especially misconceptions of the general masses that breastfeeding should have been a very natural and a very easy thing to do. This misconceptions and false expectations leads to guarantee that this will work, and when it does not work, the mother will feel pressurized by this may ultimately feel frustrated.

And so, it began..

The initial stages of breastfeeding is actually the most crucial and essential period for a successful journey of breastfeeding.

What seems like a natural scene of baby suckling his or her mother, be it in the delivery suite, hospital ward, home, or wherever the baby is born, is actually most probably the first harrowing experience of the breasfeeding journey the mother will go through. The mother, tired from her long and exhausting labour, holding her newborn in her weary arms, anxiously focusing on getting her sleepy newborn to suckle on her nipple. The first try, may most probably discourage many mothers to continue trying, especially with her so exhausted.

Thus, many a times, many mothers of newborns gets frustrated. Be it a mother who is new to the breastfeeding scene, or a mother who has had a long or short break from breastfeeding her older child, or a mother who is concurrently breastfeeding her older child.

There are many reasons for these frustrations. Frustrations ranges from the physical aspect of the breast(s) itself, to supply issues. It could even extend to issues like the physical and social surroundings of the mother and baby, and as well as the society. These frustrations often leads to feelings of helplessness, despair, and even the infamous post natal blues or depression. These frustrated mothers may eventually either give up and switch to giving her baby formula milk, or worse, commit suicide due to the impending internal pressure that have built up with these frustrations.

What many do not understand, is that every mother and every baby is different. Despite having similar blueprints as a mother or as a baby, there will always be different situations faced by different mothers with different babies. Thus, every breastfeeding journey may most probably be different for a mother.

Key to Success: Knowledge is Power

Make Informed Decisions
Knowledge IS Power To Make Informed Decisions

Some of these frustrated mothers, may take a break, be it knowingly or unintentionally, and they may continue this journey later on once they feel better and have overcomed their frustrations.

There are ways to overcome these frustrations. One effective way is to get a stable and solid emotional support system from the mother’s surroundings. The main issue however, is to address the true root cause of these frustrations. The root cause, is actually the lack of proper knowledge. There are many ways to gain knowledge regarding nursing a baby, and the best time to actually learn is before a mother even gets pregnant. However, as the famous saying goes, it is never too late.

Gaining the right knowledge can make or break the breastfeeding journey for the mother. It is actually a pretty big deal. It is important to have the right information about breastfeeding. Not only that, but the perception and expectations should also change with proper knowledge. The right knowledge empowers a mother to make an informed decision with regards to breastfeeding, as well as supporting her with the unnecessary pressures that may arise from the frustrations that she will experience regardless of the timeline in her breastfeeding journey.

So ma ladies, knowledge, is indeed Power.

Power to keep on nursing, to keep on going with the tough journey still ahead.

Do share with me in the comments on what other misconceptions you faced in your breastfeeding journey.

Till the next post, brave on my fellow, battered mothers.

Keep the milk flowing.

Guide 2: The True First Step of Breastfeeding No One Mentioned

6 Comments

  1. You’ve really hit the nail on the head here! It would have been great if someone had explained this to me ahead of time, but I had to learn the hard way. It just seemed like nursing should be easy because it was ‘natural’, but it was quite hard, for me and baby. Worth it? Definitely, but not easy! What really helped me was getting tips from a lactation consultant, and joining a support group of other nursing moms. Every baby and mom are different, but just having other people to give tips and advice, and commiserate with during the difficult times made things a LOT easier!

    1. Yes! I too, during my pregnancy when I decided to breastfeed my firstborn thought it was easy. Boy, found out the hard way. Generally, everyone talks about how breastfeeding is truly beneficial, but I rarely or perhaps never read about how tough the beginnings can be. This is why I want to spread the word, and especially reach out to help others change their mindset about how breastfeeding truly is.

  2. Great post!
    I found that nursing was a whole lot easier when I started drinking about 3 liters of water a day! Like so many other people, I was dehydrated. I see this all the time with people that come for lab bloodwork…it can be a real challenge to collect blood from a person who is dehydrated.

    Once I upped my water intake (and don’t believe anyone who tells you that you get enough water from fruit!) it was hard for my baby to keep up with me! I was so pleased, as I had been fed formula as a baby and have had so many ear or chest infections, and I get sick easily. My child almost never gets sick 🙂

    1. Indeed, we do feel accomplished when our own child gets all the good nutrients from our own breast milk. Wow, 3 liters of water! That’s great, and an awesome reminder for myself too to keep me hydrated at all times. I feel quite giddy at times once I started breastfeeding, and it’s usually due to dehydration. Hydration also helps a lot with giddiness!

  3. While I was reading your post a news came into my mind that I have recently seen on TV regarding an MP in Australia who during a session in the House of Parliament was breastfeeding while having a speech. She was not doing it only to provide the necessary nutrition to her child but to encourage women at the same time no to be shy and breastfeed their babies whenever or wherever they need to.

    1. Oh yes! She is remarkable! Definitely need a lot of guts to do it. Most of our modern society really needs to learn that breastfeeding is a natural thing for mothers to do and encourage breastfeeding as a whole community. They say it takes a whole village to bring up a child, and breastfeeding is one factor that is crucial. Whilst I am advocating for breastfeeding, I am also not putting aside formula milk, as it can also make a difference for new mothers especially with her transition to a very hectic lifestyle, which is motherhood. With my second, formula milk helped him in the earlier days. While he was on formula milk for a day or two in the hospital, I focused on hand expressing milk. This helped me with my supply till now, 5 months postpartum. There are also cases whereby babies die due to dehydration, where a case happened that the baby cried and cried and the hospital staffs was determined that the mother focused on just breastfeeding the child until her nipples hurt and yet the baby kept on crying, and he died due to the dehydration. While there are a lot of staunch supporters and advocates of breastfeeding whereby they are so strong with their stand up to the point that any mention of formula milk is of such vileness, I am an advocate who understands that different people have different situations, and not one solution fits all.

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