Breastfeeding is the most difficult physical thing I have ever done, second only to labor and delivery. Actually, maybe the two are equivalent in all aspects of pain and suffering. I'm not sure, I've repressed most of those memories. With my first kid, breastfeeding did not work for a multitude of reasons, but mostly due to lack of knowledge and support. With my second, breastfeeding worked out, but not before I survived six weeks of pure hell. Struggling with breastfeeding is common, so we should come up with some basic rules for talking to someone having trouble breastfeeding.
As I said, with my first I had no clue what I was doing. I received minimal attention from the lactation consultants at the hospital, because I did not know to ask for more time with them. I couldn't really afford to get consultants to come to my house and teach me, and I didn't know anyone else who could help. I was using a nipple shield. I was bruised and bleeding and in unimaginable amount of pain with each latch. I cursed the evil gods of breastfeeding. And, in the end, it was all too much. Between no sleep, pain everywhere, and a hysterical and jaundiced newborn, I had enough. I started pumping and that was it for breastfeeding. Yes, pumping sucked, but at least it wasn't painful and I didn't curl my toes from the stinging at each latch.
Fast forward five years and I am breastfeeding my second kid like a champ. Well, not right away, because why would it be easy? The first six weeks were brutal. My son didn't latch properly for weeks and I couldn't figure out the issue. This time I made sure I requested more time with the lactation consultants while I was in the hospital, though. In fact, I spoke with a few after I got home, too. I even joined breastfeeding support groups on Facebook. Thankfully, between the extra time with the lactation consultants and the extra support via the internet, I learned my son had a small tongue tie and that each time he latched I had to manually adjust his lips.
Eventually everything healed and breastfeeding became incredible. Still, the first few weeks were hell, so I know what it's like to struggle with breastfeeding (twice). So, if someone in your life is in the middle of the breastfeeding game and having a tough time, make sure to remember the following rules when you talk to them about their breastfeeding experience: