Breastfeeding Sabotage, An American Epidemic

Is your breastfeeding relationship being sabotaged? Are you sure? Are you unknowingly sabotaging someone else’s breastfeeding relationship? How do you know?

I am a labor doula and childbirth educator. I am a mother of three with a variety of breastfeeding experiences. I am self educated regarding breastfeeding.

I am NOT a lactation consultant, breastfeeding counselor (though I work closely with one) or an IBLCE. I hope to check off each of these boxes in the future……Maybe not an IBLCE….that one is a LOT of work.

Seventeen years ago my own breastfeeding relationship was sabotaged by misinformation and lack of the world wide web we have today. My future success in breastfeeding my next two children to 2 and 3 years made me very passionate about this subject and I became and avid researcher. What I’ve discovered is that our breastfeeding relationships are unintentionally sabotaged from many angles along the way.

Today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week so I wanted to start a serious discussion specifically about breastfeeding sabotage.

There are five very common ways that our breastfeeding relationships get sabotaged. Today I’ll give you a list with quick descriptions, and slowly, over the next few months, I’ll make a post about each one in more detail.

1. In the womb- Listen, EVERYTHING you do while pregnant affects you and your baby. Give yourself and baby the best start. Nutrition and exercise are crucial to growing strong, healthy, full term babies that are ready in all ways to transition from passively being fed through the umbilical cord to actively seeking out their own food and doing it efficiently.

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2. Labor- Keep baby inside as long as possible. Unless there is a true medical necessity, induction is a bad idea. Everyone knows this now, whether they like it or not. Medications affect you and baby. They cross the placenta. There are studies done on this. Sometimes medications and inductions are necessary, but it’s rare. These are your very first parenting decisions. Choose wisely.

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3. Immediate Postpartum- Get those babies skin to skin. They don’t need baths, they don’t need poked and prodded. They need you. They need your breast, your warmth, your arms and YOU need THEM. You need the hormone boost, the smell of your child, the little legs kicking your uterus down and their little mouths stimulating your nipples letting your uterus know it’s time to shrink. You need to bond and get to know each other and figure out how to work together for the first time.

4. Postpartum- Take it easy. Rest, focus on your baby. Learn to co-sleep safely. Answer your babies cues right away. It’s a hard job, but it’s one you’ve waited 9 long months for. Embrace it. Feeding that baby is the only important thing in life right now. No one can do it for you. Every time baby gets something other than your breastmilk in their body, your body is learning not to produce milk at that time. If baby is getting a bottle, even if it’s your breastmilk, you need to be pumping to tell your body to make more. Why give yourself the extra work? Skip the middle man for at least 6 weeks and teach your body about supply and demand. The dishes can wait. The laundry can wait. Friends and family can bond in dozens of other ways that do not involved eating. Food does not=love.

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5. Support- This one is HUGE and something that I’m discovering that people get really worked up over. First, make sure you reach out for support ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE you can. Go to local breastfeeding support groups, La Leche League meetings, join Facebook groups. The more the better because the experience varies widely when it comes to breastfeeding and if you limit yourself to 5-20 others all looking for advice you’ll hear the same information over and over again and it keeps getting repeated, right or wrong. Make sure the people you’re getting support from have or have attained the same goals as you. If the person giving you advice has only been breastfeeding for a month, they could be making the same mistakes you are. Ask yourself, do they have breasts? Have they taken classes to teach me about breastfeeding? Is breastfeeding their passion? How long did they breastfeed? Why? Was it a choice? Were they sabotaged?

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How has your breastfeeding relationship been intentionally or unintentionally sabotaged? Where you able to overcome the issues? How did it affect your goals? What did you learn from them? Where you able to go on and have more successful breastfeeding relationships in the future? We’ll discuss all of the sabotages and more in future posts. Until then, keep up the good work! Be well. Educate Yourself.

Jenn Leonard, Homebirth Doula
CLD, CBE