When I was getting ready to deliver and breastfeed my first baby, the possibility of a poor latch never occurred to me. At least, not that I can remember. I’d heard stories from friends and had spent enough time on the internet to know breastfeeding challenges were a very real possibility, but I never looked into specifics. Sure enough, when my son and I attempted to nurse, we faced a number of struggles. As a result, I learned some of the worst ways to respond to your baby’s poor latch.
To be fair, there were a lot of things I learned after bringing a newborn home. For example, the importance of breast pumps, the necessity of swaddles that fasten with velcro, and how good I am at remembering the words to various lullabies after two sleepless nights. However, out of all the gems of wisdom that presented themselves during those early days, it was breastfeeding that presented me with the steepest learning curve. Latching, in particular, was a struggle. I grew so tired of even saying the word “latch” that, if you could bleep out words in regular conversation like you can on TV, I would have done it. In my eyes, it deserved the same treatment as a the worst cuss words imaginable.
As you might have guessed, my son and I eventually figured it out and breastfeeding grew to be easier and more of a regular routine for us after a few weeks. Though, now that I’m getting ready to do it all over again with my second baby, I’m trying to stay positive and remember to avoid the following if I find myself in a similar struggle:
Crying In Their Face
I'm not proud, but the fact that my baby and I were pretty much always in each other's face when attempting to breastfeed made it tough to avoid actually crying in my baby's face. So, yeah, I cried in front of my newborn son pretty regularly. Damn it, anatomy.
Logically, I knew that it wasn't my baby's fault that we had latch issues. Logically, I also knew that it wasn't my fault, either. However, in those desperate moments of attempting to feed him, I wasn't exactly thinking logically. Pointing fingers at least gave me a semblance of understanding (despite the fact that it was wrong, but still).
My point is, I know firsthand how easy it is to either blame yourself or the baby (or both), but it doesn't always help.
Making A Rash Decision About Breastfeeding
Of course moms get to decide if breastfeeding is right for them and their baby. I don't mean to judge any mom's method of choosing when and/or if to stop nursing, but I would suggest holding off on any decisions when you're in the midst of an all out crying session, since historically, some of us (read: me) don't make our best decisions when we're borderline hysterical.
Showing Signs Of Aggression Similar To What We See In The Animal Kingdom
For the most part, I try not to take parenting cues from animals. Sure, there's overlap in some areas (destroying predators, for example), but for the most part, anything involving claws or teeth probably won't help in this situation.
Showing Signs Of Aggression In General
Actually, the more I think about it, the more it becomes clear that aggression in general isn't really a good reactionary technique when caring for a newborn. Let's all agree not to go there.
Equating It With Your Mothering Abilities
Ugh, guilty as charged. I put way, way too much emphasis on how much my ability (or inability) to breastfeed impacted how "successful" or "good" I was as a mom. Now that I'm a couple years removed from those early days of latching struggles, I recognize that a lot of it had to do with my lack of confidence and nothing to do with how I was doing as a parent. Still, at the time I was hardly enlightened enough to recognize that.
Long story short: latch issues do not mean you're a bad mom, period.
Refusing Resources Or Help
Everyone is different, this much is true. However, I know that, personally, there's no way I would have managed to make it through those breastfeeding struggles without help. My partner helped, my own mom helped, the lactation consultant helped, even strangers on the internet helped. It definitely takes a village to raise a child and, in my case, it also takes a village to figure out how to breastfeed one.
Attempting To Bribe Your Baby
I hate to break it to you, but your baby probably doesn't really understand the concept of a bribe. On the off-chance they do, you've established a dangerous precedent when it comes time for potty-training, teaching them how to clean their own room, and getting them to meet curfew.
Threatening To Not Pay For College
This one doesn't work. Just trust me.