All I learned about breastfeeding…

I really learned in the 12 months after I had my baby.

Before that I can safely say I had no clue in comparison. I knew milk was supply and demand, I knew it might be uncomfortable, I knew that it was a learned skill, I even knew about cluster feeding. That wasn’t enough though. Since then I’ve learned about signs of tongue tie, galactalogues, sucking and swallowing, breast compression, oral motor skills, managing low supply, and I learned all this part time, while working, while raising a baby. But mostly, a lot of what I’ve learned makes me angry.  I guess my point it, if I can learn all this–why can’t my doctor, lactation consultant, midwife and so on? Why are so many being failed?

I know it has to do with the disruption of breastfeeding knowledge, turning the tongue tie snip into a non-routine procedure, routinely drying up milk, a whole generation (or more) who didn’t know what was normal for babies. However, there’s certainly been a large shift and more information being publicized in the last 12 months as well. I remember first looking for help online, not finding much on low supply, or causes thereof. Certainly not much on combo-feeding or at breast supplementer use. I still think my tutorial is one of the only ones out there. Nothing that made me think tongue tie might be our issue (though I will admit I knew it existed and what an anterior tongue tie looked like) despite having clear signs early on. Now, it’s more in the public consciousness that PCOS and thyroid issues can cause supply problems, that tongue tie is seriously under diagnosed, that low milk and the women who struggle with it are real. That that ‘only 98% of women can’t breastfeed’ figure is bullshit. What else has been a hot topic in the last 12 months? Milk donation, and why? Because these issues with breastfeeding are real and it’s getting more ok (in online-land at least) to talk about them.

After the first incredibly traumatic weeks I never thought I’d make it this far. I no longer shake when it’s time to weigh her. I still really struggle to be proud. Even though I got a lot of my confidence back when we stopped needing formula daily that initial shame of failure sticks with me. I worry a lot about what is going to happen next time (whenever that is going to be. I still haven’t resumed ovulation despite trying to cut down on feeds a bit). I feel more confident that it was a posterior tongue tie that did this to us, (which makes me angry for different reasons, I asked about tongue tie, I asked why she kept slipping off the breast, why up to 6 months I had to hold my breast in her mouth to get the latch right), but there is a chance that it was me not having the necessary glandular tissue as well.

I hope someday that lost women, like myself, won’t be fobbed off to a pump when breastfeeding isn’t working. Won’t have to retreat to the internet because they can’t get any help from their postnatal support. Won’t have to do their own research and be their own advocate months after it could have helped. Won’t be told to try harder, won’t be clucked at when it breaks them down.

Someday maybe. But, today, happy birthday baby girl. May the world you decide to breastfeed in be better than this one.

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