As the birth of my third child approaches, breastfeeding anxiety is setting in. It’s not that I had problems feeding my two boys. On the contrary, my milk supply was ample and both of them were sucking away in no time.
What’s haunting me is the latter part of the love-hate relationship I have with nursing: leaking breasts the size of watermelons; feeling like I belong on a meadow among the cows; constantly smelling of breast milk; horrible cotton pads stuffed into bras that look like something from Grandma’s underwear drawer; and being the only one who can feed the baby in the middle of the night.
With these memories comes shame. After all, shouldn’t I have moved beyond these mixed feelings? I want to give my third child the same start in life that the first two had — breastfed for six months — yet this time I want to really enjoy it.
If you are feeling this way during pregnancy or encountered difficulties feeding previously, it’s best to get help around 35 or 36 weeks, with enough time to plan before baby arrives. As long as we know a mother’s history, we can talk through her concerns and work out a plan.
For my next baby, I suggest one bottle of expressed milk daily once lactation is established (usually at six weeks). Allowing my family to help with feeding will give me a break. The key to having the baby taking swell to both breast and bottle is being consistent.
If you stop for a week, the baby is likely to revert to just the breast and you could miss your window of opportunity. Being a lactation consultant and midwife makes me a natural breastfeeding activist.
What if I choose not to breastfeed?
We want the mother to breastfeed, but if she is unable or doesn’t want to, then we will support her in her choice. Pony’s response is very much in line with the center’s ethos — support to all mothers, regardless of whether or not they breastfeed.
Still a few months from birth, I am already feeling more relaxed about breastfeeding. I know that however wonderful and beneficial nursing my child is, it’s not a barometer of how much I love him or her.