I had read all the breastfeeding guidelines. I had watched instructional videos. I had sat up late into the night, bleary-eyed, reading page after page of advice. Breastfeeding is possible for anyone, the articles said. It's the most natural way to feed your baby. Breast is best.
I cuddled my baby close, as the advice suggested. The pain was instant. I likened to being cut, but maybe a friend put it better; it's like someone is trying to sandpaper your nipples off. "Ahhh," I cursed under my breath, as my husband walked in to the room, "Are you okay?" He asked.
"No," I said, through tears. "No, I'm really not."
WHEN BREASTFEEDING SUCKS : Michelle Duff, Canvas Magazine. Weekend Herald. New Zealand Herald. February 20, 2016
You can read the full article here - http://m.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11591202
When this article from last weekend's Canvas Magazine appeared on the Hearald's Facebook page, comments of all opinions were posted, and I joined in.
It saddened me that both the article and Facebook comments didn't address the vividly described problem. Instead Michelle Duff fell into the pessimistic practice of when you are struggling with something, quote a string of equally dismal-experienced people, and come up with, nothing. But maybe that was the point! The bitter side of journalism.
Michelle Duff certainly did a lot of research, and she unknowingly twice mentioned the missing piece of information that could have given sympathetic and constructive help to the hundreds of to-be mums who read her article. But she didn't know what she was looking for herself.
1. Be Informed and Psychologically Set Yourself Up.
If you want to breastfeed your baby, reading advice books, blogs, online articles and "guidelines", watching "instructional videos", going to antenatal classes, listening and talking to professionals through your pregnancy, can help. But I would add spending time with someone who is currently and successfully breastfeeding or has done so in the past, having lots of chats so you talk through all sorts of questions and then feel comfortable to come back to them later when you are breastfeeding. This will inform and psychologically set you up to breastfeed.
2. Physically Set Yourself Up.
Sadly, this was the 'missing piece of information' from Michelle Duff's article.
Michelle rightly said, "Newborns eat a lot. Sometimes it's every 90 minutes, sometimes it's three times an hour." This is why to prepare to breastfeed is like preparing to run a marathon. You MUST prepare thoroughly or you won't last the distance and certainly won't enjoy the race. Just as preparation to run a marathon starts before the race, so preparation to successfully breastfeed starts before birth, during your pregnancy.
PREPARING TO BREASTFEED ~
This was the method commonly used when I breastfed in the 1980's, 1990's and 2000's.
1. Breastfeeding preparation starts when you reach 6 months in your pregnancy.
2. Each day after your daily shower use an oral-friendly moisturiser such as Weleda Nursing Oil, Lanolin or what I used - Wheatgerm oil. Apply a little to both hands and start with your thumbs at the top of your breast and hands on either side of the breast. Smoothly rotate your hands around under the breast up the other side. You don't need any pressure, the fingers softly massage the breasts. Massage say 3 or 4 times. Then repeat with the other breast. Continue this practice right up until the birth. I even continued through the early weeks after birth to help prevent getting blocked milk glands. Takes about 1 minute.
3. In the last 6 - 4 weeks before due date, after the morning massage routine, add in a short time rolling the nipples - with thumb and pointer finger the top and bottom of the nipple (in a 12 and 6 o'clock position), stretch it a little out from the breast and gently roll it 3 times. Move the thumb and pointer finger to a 3 and 9 o'clock position and stretch and gently roll again. Repeat with the other breast. You won't need to continue this once your baby is born. Takes less than 1 minute.
These 2 simple steps prepare the breasts, gets them into condition. They are now ready to cope with the natural pressure that a newborn who wants to feed, puts on a mother's breast. Why on earth would you not prepare for that? It's like starting a full marathon in brand new shoes with no prior training. Clearly brainless, if you ask me!!!!
OUR HELP AGENCY HAVE NOT HELPED.
From a search online, I have found our community groups who should be helping make known this simple but vitally essential information, ignore it and say nothing. This includes NZ Plunket and the Ministry of Health. A possible explanation as to why so many mums today are struggling and in trouble with breastfeeding.
The only website that gave proper breast preparation help is http://www.wikihow.com/Prepare-the-Breast-for-Breast-Feeding