Your Breastfeeding Journey Begins Long Before Baby

It actually began in your own childhood.

During childhood, cultural and family stories about early mothering, infant feeding and infant sleep, were quietly woven into your unconscious…
…good mothers are selfless, organized, productive
…good mothers feed their babies a certain way
…good mothers have babies who sleep through the night
…good mothers never rest
…good mothers always focus on meeting everyone’s need before their own.

Those messages were further reinforced by family, friends, media as you grew beyond childhood and into your adult years. If you’re like many of the mothers I work with, preparing to welcome a baby, you’ve learned a lot about what makes a good mother, along with all of the great things about breastfeeding. You may have even thought ‘it’s natural so it must be easy to figure out’.

In addition, health organizations and governments throughout the world promote the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies and recommend exclusive breastfeeding to six months with the addition of solid foods around that time and continued breastfeeding to two years and beyond. 

It’s a beautiful intention to aim for but in many countries, the support for mothers to fulfill that intention is incredibly inadequate – even more so when things don’t unfold as we hoped…

…labour and birth interventions delay mature milk production and establishing breastfeeding feels like an uphill battle

…breastfeeding starts out OK then a change in baby’s behaviour has us questioning our milk supply

…night feeds are more exhausting than we thought they’d be and instead of helping us find the support we need, someone suggests offering formula because ‘breastfeeding isn’t enough’

…breastfeeding is painful and we’re not sure why

…we’re told that breastfeeding to sleep creates a bad habit (even when it’s working for us)

…and then the guilt and shame – Why can’t I do this for my baby? What’s wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?

Too often, persistent challenges, inaccurate or poor advice and lack of the right support leads to stopping our breastfeeding journey sooner than intended.

And with that…grief.

Research has shown that guiding mothers towards awareness of their cultural and ancestral stories and beliefs about infant feeding, helps them to identify what’s most aligned with and supportive of their feeding intentions.

In turn, mothers are more likely to persist through feeding challenges when they arise.

In your family and lineage and in your circles of influence (friends, coworkers, neighbours)…

Who has breastfed one or more children?

Who has strong views on infant feeding or parenting?

Do those views align with yours?

What do you notice whe you explore these questions?