I was recently considering how the emotions that surround traumatic labours and births are very similar to those surrounding failed, or grief worthy, breastfeeding experiences. Women are frequently the biggest critics of other women for failing at breastfeeding. But I was thinking of how, even though the too-posh-to-push label is thrown around a lot, suggesting that someone whose labour ended in emergency c-section ‘didn’t try hard enough’, as is often done to women who do not meet their breastfeeding goals… well those suggesting that would find a horde of angry c-sectionees bearing down on them.
Then I saw a link to this article.
As I said on the KellyMom Facebook post that I first saw the article on, there’s a bit of a disconnect on how this translates to people in the US, UK and other developed countries with lower than desired breastfeeding rates. Here breast feeding really is normal as far as I’ve seen. New Zealand has high initiation rates (~94%) and a reasonably high breast feeding rate at point of weaning (56%). However, from my experience, even without the active attempts at sabotage via formula offering, health providers are ill equipped to deal with problems outside the norm. So I’d expect that the women in the article did experience a more unusual range of problems. Being faced with an unusual issue and something being far more normal here than it is, in say the US, and you have a recipe for mental anguish.
So why is that consideration, that it’s ok to feel grief or trauma, not given to mothers who do not meet their breastfeeding goals? For me, even though I had a somewhat traumatic labour, my breastfeeding experience was so much more traumatic. So much so that I’m still haunted by facets of it and am girding myself for next time.
When I went into my current breastfeeding experience I totally trusted my body. It never occurred to me that not making enough milk was a problem. I knew that if I just fed my baby then it would all be ok.
And then it wasn’t.
Natural labour advocates talk about trusting your body during childbirth and refusing interventions. I’m wondering how to get back that feeling of trust for my body. While I’m wondering that of course, I’m also wondering if my body deserves it.
I unfortunately think that it’s going to be better all around if instead of trust I invest in some preparation.
I may come to be able to trust my body to birth a baby, but I’ll never be able to fully trust it to feed one.