Breastfeeding is the best way to give your baby a head start at being healthy, but that doesn’t mean that it’s always a smooth or easy process. Dr. Virmani discusses some common issues first-time mothers may struggle with and the importance of having a dedicated support system.
Misty L. Virmani, M.D.:
It’s important for you to know the realities of what it’s like to breastfeed, because while breastfeeding is technically natural, it doesn’t come naturally. It takes practice and you’re going to have to work for it to some extent.
There are some very uncomfortable aspects about breastfeeding. Having a baby latch to your breast — you’ve never done that before. It is all at once, scary, amazing and a lot of times can be painful to some extent, particularly if your baby has a poor latch. What I mean by that is when your baby doesn’t open their mouth very wide, doesn’t pull a good amount of the nipple into their mouth and maybe is very shallow and just on the very tip of your nipple and trying to suckle there. That hurts really bad.
Will I want to give up at that point?
Probably, to be honest, yes. I mean, a lot of women, like, you experience pain and you’re like, “Okay, I might try it one more time. And if it still hurts, I’m going to stop.”
That’s why having support people around you is so important — to have a physician, to have nurses who are trained in how to help breastfeeding moms, to have family members who have done it before or friends who have done it before who can help you get through those really tough moments. Because let me tell you, one of the hardest things that you’re going to do is the first two weeks of breastfeeding. It’s really tough and having people around you that say, “I know it’s hard. Here, let’s fix this and it’s going to get better and you can do this. You can keep going.”
So having people around you — even for me, I was a trained pediatrician, breastfeeding my first child, and it hurt every time. I cried, every time I tried to breastfeed. And if my husband and my mother had not been so completely supportive of keeping at it, I would not have been successful.