The Perfect Breastfeeding Teacher
Looking back, breastfeeding was very much a learning experience for me... but fortunately I had the best possible teacher, my baby daughter!
Breastfeeding never came easily to me. I recall asking for help when I was still in hospital and the busy midwife roughly putting my baby to my breast without explaining what she was doing, why she was doing it or that careful positioning was crucial to success. For the first few weeks of my first baby's life breastfeeding was excrutiating and relentless.
But it was only after suffering several bouts of painful mastitis in the first weeks following her birth I realised that I was obviously doing something wrong and that was when I began to take a lot more notice of my baby as she latched on and breastfed. Soon I noticed that I could detect the start of the problem as it always began with a blocked milk duct - so I needed to figure out what was causing the blocked ducts.
I soon found that normally the problem would occur after a night-time feed and I realised that perhaps in my half asleep state I wasn't taking as much care with my positioning as I would do during day time feeds. As a result I began to take more time to position my daughter at the beginning of each breastfeed, making sure I was comfortable and that she had a good latch and thankfully that did the trick. At the first signs of mastitis I would also begin expressing regularly between feeds as a way of unblocking the duct and thereby most often avoiding full blown mastitis.
I now know breastfeeding shouldn't have been such a challenge first time around but that is only because I've had two more babies in the meantime and the lessons I learnt first time around taught me that breastfeeding could be painful if I wasn't doing it right; I needed to follow my baby's cue and let her take the lead.
I've always found it amazing that each of my babies was born knowing exactly how to breastfeed and as they searched for the nipple and opened wide for a good latch it was me who was causing the problems I experienced by tentatively placing my nipple in their mouths instead of letting them get on with it!
So there you have it... although I breastfed each of my three babies I learnt a huge amount with my first baby. She was my perfect teacher and I was her awkward student! By placing my trust in her instinctive actions we both became proficient at our roles!
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