When you're expecting a baby, one of the many things you will see is several ideas and promotions on what to gift your unborn child. From stem cell banking to clothes, photography and birthing experiences everything is so enticing and you want the very best for your child. With the magic of media and advertising, you don't have to worry because there are several options to choose from. You do your research, make your choice and you know it's the best.
Looking back at my own experience as a new and first-time mom, I was looking for the advantages and benefits of everything I wanted to give my child. Surprisingly, breastfeeding did not top my list of 'best gifts' mostly because I had no idea about the extensive benefits, not to mention the support and information available to deal with the many challenges that accompany it. I have to admit that being so modern and from a generation that can handle any taboo topic, breastfeeding has somewhat eluded me. I knew I was definitely going to breastfeed. I read about it (not as extensively as I should have), discussed it with other moms and thought I had covered the basics. The biggest mistake I made was not doing enough research and assuming I would automatically possess this 'natural motherly instinct' the moment I became a mom. The pressure to breastfeed hit me the moment my son was born and I was definitely unprepared.
Breastfeeding will always be one of those delicate topics because we all have different stories on why we choose to breastfeed and why we don't (or cannot). While some moms quickly get the hang of it and swear by "breast is best", several others struggle to deal with the exhaustion, stress, and pressure associated with breastfeeding. Limited knowledge and a weak "support system" can leave them discouraged and ready to give up at the first sign of trouble. It's no secret. Breastfeeding is challenging. It's a choice that requires a willing spirit and a strong mind (not to forget body) and after the pains of childbirth, some of us are not really interested in the bigger picture (of benefits). In those first few months (make that day), we want more sleep, less pain, quick fixes to get back in shape. We want healthy babies and we want to make sure they have the best nourishment to aid their growth and development. We are constantly looking for answers but do we know that the answer to all those requirements is: breastfeeding? Would we be ready to strike everything else from our list and make that our number one gift? Not unless we want to (as everyone is free to choose).
My own challenges of breastfeeding were overcome with family support, encouragement and my very own equation (that I should have thought of before my baby was born).
So before you make your decision to breastfeed, you might want to consider the following:
Baby Steps-think carefully and give yourself enough time to understand the benefits and the difficulties of breastfeeding.
Research-apart from reading, talk to other moms (friends and family) who have had success breastfeeding. Get different perspectives and decide how you will handle any issues that might come up.
Expectations-issues and challenges will show up once you actually start to breastfeed so have a plan in place for how youd tackle issues like reflux (different feeding positions),engorgement, infections etc.
Alternatives-consider other alternatives for a worst case scenario and again, discuss your thoughts with someone you trust or a professional (a lactation consultant for example).
Support-talk about your decision, fears, etc. with your husband. He will be your most important support. Its also best to deliberate and discuss who will be responsible for chores, other children, other tasks and the likes once the baby is born and how extended family can support breastfeeding.
Tools-breastfeeding groups, lactation consultants, other women with similar issues, your doctor, the tools that are available today are more than enough to guide you in the right direction. Make a list of all resources you can use before your baby is born.
The choice is never easy but with the right resources and guidance, you can decide if breastfeeding will be the best gift you could ever give your child!
Feel good about whatever you choose!