"It hurt." "My baby was too sleepy to nurse." "I didn't have enough milk." These are all common statements new moms make when talking about their first experiences nursing their babies. But each of these challenges is one that can be overcome, and in some cases even avoided.
The Birth and Breastfeeding Connection
A growing body of research reveals profound connections between a woman's birth experience and her ability to get breastfeeding off to a good start. Lactation consultant Linda Smith asserts that common obstetrical practices, including medical, technological, and surgical interventions, can create all kinds of problems, involving a baby's ability to breathe, suck, and swallow properly; the mother's comfort level; and the ability of a mother and baby to remain together immediately after the birth.
Childbirth and breastfeeding are typically treated as separate and unrelated events, but if you think of putting your baby to your breast as the fourth stage of labor (following dilation, pushing out the baby, and birthing the placenta), it can help you visualize this connection.
The bottom line is, the less intervention you have at birth, the less likely you are to have problems breastfeeding. Of course, childbirth does not always go as planned, but why make the beginning of your parenting journey extra challenging? After all, you wouldn't set out on a vacation driving with a flat tire—and if nursing goes well in the first few days, you'll be more likely to stick with it.
Preparing for Breastfeeding before Birth
Here are several things you can do to help your baby—and you—get off to the best start possible.