If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a small country to breastfeed one. A team of completely supportive people, present to guide you and provide you with adequate information, is essential when you're nursing. So make no mistake, there are people who will change your life when you're breastfeeding, and when you come across them you should absolutely hold onto them for dear life.
I had no idea what I was doing when I started my breastfeeding journey. Sure, I did my research and listened to the stories of other nursing moms and asked questions, but it wasn't until I pulled my hungry daughter up to me and watched her "root" that I realized I was in over my head and needed help. When she failed to latch, the hospital nurse called in a lactation consultant, and while I appreciated the extra help I also felt defeated... and right out of the proverbial gate.
The possibility of not being able to breastfeed my child was daunting. Luckily, my insurance company covered in-home lactation consultations, which I took full advantage of in the hopes the extra help would help me reach my nursing goals. So believe me when I say that breastfeeding doesn't always come "easily" for feel "natural." It took a lot of advice and support from a lot of sources to help me get through that first month of nursing. So with that in mind, here are some of the people who change your life when you're trying to feed another human being with your own body:
Your Hospital Nurse
The first time I tried my hand at breastfeeding I had the hospital staff watching on. It made the entire experience stressful, and my first nurse was impatient and condescending. So, in an exercise of self-advocacy, I asked for a different nurse.
The new nurse spent a great deal of time helping me through those initial difficulties. When I was filled with self-doubt, she was encouraging. Honestly, I would've quit then and there if she hadn't taken over.
Your Lactation Consultant
If you don't leave the hospital confident in your breastfeeding abilities, a good lactation consultant can help. Whether you're facing a supply issue, latching problems, or just breastfeeding anxiety, lactation consultants really can mean the difference between quitting and continuing.
During my hardest times, my mom became a confidante and a source of empowerment. Not only did she have a wealth of knowledge and advice, courtesy of her own experiences, but she had great shoulder to cry on when I needed one.
Having other moms you can trade stories with is life-changing. We all go through different pregnancies, labor, and deliveries, but we can and often do find common ground and, with it, source of solidarity.
It may not feel like it, but one of the best resources made available to you, and as you work to figure out how to breastfeed, is your partner. They can sit with you, comfort and encourage you, bring you pillows and snacks, and simply listen to you when you need to vent. And while they may not fully understand what you're going through, the best ones are empathetic and supportive.
Never underestimate the power of someone having your back when your breastfeeding journey takes a turn toward the frustrating.