When was the last time you saw a woman nursing her baby, infant, toddler, or child? I don’t mean in a photograph—definitely not talking about any kind of advertising or even an image in a natural birth book. What’s the value in seeing a posed, glossy, and idyllic photo when the majority of real-life breastfeeding is wet, noisy, and spontaneous? (I’ll give you a hint: Not much!)
When was the last time you saw a woman breastfeeding a baby right before your eyes?
I’m talking just inches away from your curious gaze?
Well, you can do that. Surely, you can still figure the whole breastfeeding thing out even if the first baby you watch latch onto a breast is while you are utterly adoring your very own baby on your very own breasts. . .
That could work. Or, you could look down at your aching, engorged breasts—ones you might not even recognize—and you could take that hungry baby and you know, sort of smash it up against your nipple and hope for the best. That could work too! Or. . .maybe it doesn’t. And then what?
So, you want my advice?
Think of these next few months, weeks, or days as a time to learn the breastfeeding basics by witnessing the subtleties, movements, noises, positions, and bonding while sitting next to a nursing mother in real time.
I’m not saying that you should stare anyone down, but to simply notice that sweet new baby nursing on her mother, or the way that toddler latches on all by himself. You will learn so much when you don't immediately look away!
When? How? You ask.
Find a local breastfeeding support group! Not only will you be able to catch a latch-on from time to time, but you will also hear about the struggles and success of other mothers in your community, and have the chance to build your support network for your own breastfeeding experience.
La Leche League International and Breastfeeding USA are two great places to start! Use the directories on their websites to find your local group. Or ask doulas, childbirth educators, midwives, and doctors in your area if they know of any breastfeeding or parenting support groups.
Have fun admiring those babies filling up on the good stuff. Don’t forget to let me know how it goes!
For those of you who already go to breastfeeding support groups-- Has it affected your breastfeeding or mothering experience? Tell me about it in the comments!