Previously, we touched on how our misconceptions of breastfeeding ultimately leads to frustrations experienced by breastfeeding mothers. In summary of the previous post, these dissatisfactions arise due to lack of proper knowledge as well as lack of experience and exposure.
In this post, we will discuss on two crucial aspects of breastfeeding that many do not realize matters, and which barely are there books or websites that gives out advice on breastfeeding talks about the true first step of breastfeeding, and how mothers will be able to adopt to overcome their frustrations with breastfeeding in the initial stages of their breastfeeding journey. Irregardless of the length of the journey, taking the true first step of breastfeeding in the right direction could go a long way, especially for mothers who intend to aim for long term breastfeeding. Both mothers on their first journey of breastfeeding, or on their x-th time, will be able to make informed decisions when armed with proper knowledge and exposure to experiences shared by other mothers.
Table of Contents
In The Beginning
We frequently idealized at the thought of breastfeeding being simple and easy.
Unfortunately, every so often, there are mothers who find themselves unable to cope the first few days of breastfeeding. The misconception of the general masses that breastfeeding is a natural and therefore will come easily, caused these unexperienced mothers to think that they need not be well prepared for the journey ahead.
As much as there are mothers who jumped into the breastfeeding bandwagon unprepared, there are also mothers who are well prepared and armed with the proper and right knowledge to help her overcome the upcoming obstacles with reading books and articles posted on websites regarding breastfeeding. Yet, these mothers go through the same difficulties as those who are not even prepared.
“Say what? Now why would that be?” you wonder.
Mind Over Matter
We have understood by now that with proper knowledge, we will be able to brave our challenges with breastfeeding.
Why is it that these mothers, who are armed with the proper knowledge and supposedly able to beat all these challenges, still feels flabbergasted when they are faced with the trials that none of these books they have read or websites that they have visited mentioned?
It all begins with the mind.
Knowledge alone, will give us an advantage when making informed decisions with relation to breastfeeding. However, without mental preparedness and resiliency, even our knowledge will not be able to tide us out when the challenges begin to wear down on us.
Back in 2015
As what I have shared before, my own harrowing experience back in 2015 makes me realize how much mental preparedness and resilience will be able to make a huge difference in the trajectory with the progress of our breastfeeding adventure.
Before my first pregnancy, I was already exposed to breastfeeding. My sister had breastfed her first child, who is 3 years older than my firstborn, for quite a period of time. One of my good friends since our secondary school days (since we were 13 years old), had also breastfed her firstborn, who is 2 years older than my firstborn, for quite a period of time.
With the exposure that I had with close women in my life breastfeeding, some time during my pregnancy with my firstborn, I chanced upon a local Facebook breastfeeding group. This group’s unique (back then) methodology of arranging different topics with regards to having a breastfeeding help section simply using photo albums (since Facebook have limited topic sorting options unlike forums), influenced me that there are more knowledge out there for me to digest and understand about breastfeeding.
Thus, I read up as much information and knowledge as I could. I also established that I will be breastfeeding him. I was targeting to breastfeed my firstborn for 2 years, the recommended period of time for breastfeeding. I also did my research on how I could continue feeding my firstborn with breastmilk while working at the same time.
I was ready. I was armed with knowledge and was pretty confident things will go well.
My Expectation vs My Reality
However, once I gave birth, things did not happen as how I thought it would be.
Being a new mother was overwhelming in itself. The labour, the giving birth, the vaginal tear and episiotomy pain after my induced natural labour, and the tailbone pain that somehow happened when I was writhing in pain during the contractions while on the delivery bed. Those wear down on me physically, emotionally and mentally. Coupled with numerous and major family conflicts which came up at the same time, everything was overwhelming.
The true challenges of motherhood in the early days was another major factor. The waking up every 2-3 hours for feed and diaper change, the mystifying crying of the baby, the arguments with my husband that arises from our exhaustion figuring things out with the new baby. It was mind-boggling.
I was also not mentally prepared for the engorgement that came suddenly after a few days of giving birth, and my breastfeeding journey went downhill from there. Even though I was able to salvage the situation, I missed out on the crucial moment that could have helped me on later days during my first journey.
While I didn’t have a major low supply issue, but it was a traumatizing experience for me to increase my decreasing expressed output for my first-born’s increasing consumption while I was away for work, and it the agonizing experience lasted for the rest of the 14 months journey.
Emotional Support System
After my first breastfeeding journey ended pretty abruptly as explained in my first post, I began to ponder on what had actually happened. I soon came to realize, that despite the knowledge I have gained, I lacked the mental preparedness and resiliency to overcome my situation back then. I have no clue and no idea of how tough it will be after having a baby.
Despite so, I was lucky that I was able to salvage the situation and was able to continue breastfeeding my first-born for the rest of the 14 months. This is mainly because I had a good emotional support system that comprises of my family, girlfriends, and fellow mothers in a Facebook group whose baby was also born in the same month, as well as fellow breastfeeding mothers in a local breastfeeding Facebook group and in real life. I am also lucky, that I was not faced with much challenges of society as well as social pressures around me pertaining to breastfeeding, unlike a lot of mothers who shared why they have stopped breastfeeding.
With such strong support, I was able to learn to handle and overcome the difficulties faced with breastfeeding and expressing milk. While it was tough, the emotional support system ensures that I will be able to motivate myself each time I stumble and get back up every time I fall.
Without my emotional support system, I would most probably have given up breastfeeding earlier like many mothers who shared their reasons why they have stopped breastfeeding.
In the End, It Does Matters
At the end of the day, what matters is what many do not realize matters.
The importance of mental preparedness and resiliency as well as emotional support system is what not many books nor websites have touched on while doling out really good advices and superb tips on how to make breastfeeding works.
Being mental prepared for the tough challenges ahead, mentally preparing our minds to practise resiliency to get back up when challenges befall us, as well as having a strong emotional support system prior to our breastfeeding journey seems like taking baby steps towards having a successful breastfeeding journey, but these are major first step for us to take to ensure we will be able to pursue a fruitful breastfeeding journey ahead.
Aside from my own experiences, I would love to hear from you what other crucial aspects of breastfeeding that we should prepare for from your own experiences. Do leave a comment below to share your own perspective.
Till the next post!