Nursing is not so natural

Why does everyone always say breastfeeding should come naturally?

My daughter is a week old and I’ve already visited with three lactation consultants, received a prescription for healing cream and returned to the hospital to use an electric pump. I still wince in pain every time my daughter starts her next meal.

I honestly don’t know how women do it who don’t have access to lactation experts who have helped me tremendously to improve the way my daughter latches on and to give me tips on how to ease the pain of these initial days of breastfeeding. I nursed my first daughter until she was 14 months old, so you’d think I would be an old hand at this by now.

One of the nurses who helped me this week said she thinks understaffed hospitals are partly to blame for not giving new moms enough one-on-one coaching time when it comes to breastfeeding. New moms leave the hospital with sore nipples, hungry babies and no idea how to make things better. And with a culture that makes moms feel like a failure if they can’t figure out motherhood on their own, these frustrated moms give up on breastfeeding.

It’s no wonder that the number of breastfeeding moms drops by almost half in the first six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 74 percent of new moms breastfeed at the beginning, but that number drops to 43 percent at six months and 22 percent at 12 months. The percent of exclusively breastfed babies is even lower, with 33 percent breastfed at three months and 13 percent at six months.

It’s a shame that women give up because once those first few weeks of frustration are over, it does get better. I know the pain will go away and I’ll be left with wonderful memories of nursing my child and giving her a gift that only I can give.

Why do you think some women give up on breastfeeding? Did nursing come naturally to you or did you have to work to get it right?

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