Support for your Perfectly Imperfect Breastfeeding JourneyMay 03, 2016 10:39AM ● By Nicole Kekesi
I still remember the first week after I brought my newborn son home from the hospital. Reruns of Gilmore Girls played in the background as I desperately tried to get my baby to nurse. Fighting back tears, I would ask myself: “What am I doing wrong?”
My experience was nothing like the photos you see in baby magazines. Instead, I was dealing with sore nipples, a screaming baby, non-stop feedings and sleepless nights. I would’ve gladly traded places with the chipper, coffee-sipping characters on TV.
Now that time has passed, I realize a lot of my frustrations had to do with unrealistic expectations. Caring for a newborn comes with a learning curve, and it’s important to recognize that not everything will work out according to the plans we make during pregnancy.
In other words: the idea of perfection is so imperfect.
I encourage all mothers not to suffer in silence! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; rather, it’s a sign of knowledge and understanding.
Many of the mothers that visit my office experience common complications that can be improved on or resolved with assistance. Whether it’s latch issues, difficulty pumping or supply problems, these are the situations that lactation consultants like me are trained to address.
My turning point came when my son was 9 days old. At his pediatrician checkup, the nurse asked me how breastfeeding was going. I had two options: force a fake smile or tell the truth. In that moment, I realized that in order for me to continue this breastfeeding journey—and maybe even come to enjoy it—I needed to be honest.
Don’t ever be ashamed to ask a friend, relative or professional for help and guidance. Mothers that seek out support are more likely to continue breastfeeding than those that try on their own.
This is what I know…
- Breastmilk is the perfect nutrition for babies.
- Breastfeeding can sometimes prove difficult, which is why there are helpful resources.
- Your baby’s first milky smile will always remain in your memory.
- Your baby does not expect you to be perfect.
- The Internet will fill your mind with unrealistic expectations. Avoid chat rooms, baby forums and Facebook if they make you feel bad.
Speak up if there is an issue you are concerned with regarding breastfeeding. Reach out for guidance and support, and be open with others about your perfectly imperfect breastfeeding journey.
Nicole Kekesi, RD, IBCLC, RLC, is a registered dietitian and board-certified lactation consultant at Virtua’s Breastfeeding Resource Center, in Voorhees. She aims to provide mothers with the knowledge and confidence to start and continue breastfeeding, and most importantly, to enjoy the journey. For information on free breastfeeding support or to schedule a private session with a Virtua lactation consultant, call 888-VIRTUA-3 or visit Virtua.org.