Why are we so hard on ourselves??
I help many families learn to breastfeed in the initial two weeks after birth. One theme that has emerged for many women and their partners is an expectation of perfection early on in the process. Mothers may report having some good feedings and then some difficult feeds. They express being discouraged by this. Many women feel as if they are failing their newborns. Some parents even will feel the need to supplement with formula in the first 24hr of life due to some difficult feedings. I like to think of learning to breastfeed as learning a new skill. It is not unlike learning to ride a bike. In the first week while a child is learning to ride a bike, they will fall and skin their knees a few times. There will be lots of hand holding and some stress. We don't expect our child to ride perfectly the first time they get on the bicycle. Babies have just arrived in the world for the first time. There will be imperfect attempts at nursing. This is normal. Also a well baby who is born at term can tolerate some imperfect feeds in the 24hr of life. The main concern that I have as a helping professional is the stress that mothers put on themselves to be perfect at breastfeeding immediately after the baby is born! I want to allay their fears and encourage the new mother to enjoy this time with their newborn. Let's see it as learning a new skill in the first few weeks.