I have realized over time that Breastfeeding does not come naturally to many women. I do practice in the Northeast in a heavily populated area. The make up of our culture has implications for breastfeeding. The majority of my clients have never seen a woman breastfeed. Many women have not even had exposure to a newborn. Simply holding a small baby is a daunting first task that must be learned in order to successfully nurse. Other cultures in my area are very different in contrast.They likely have grown up around many young women in their family who have been breastfeeding. They have observed the techniques and normalcy of nursing and may have more experience handling newborns. These women have an advantage and often have less difficulty learning to nurse. We can overcome this lack of exposure with adequate support, teaching and practice. This does not delay the initiation of breastfeeding. I do observe that this issue can cause some additional anxiety around having a newborn and learning to hold and feed the baby. As a Lactation Consultant and a Registered Nurse, one of my goals is to empower women and their partners to feel more comfortable with their baby and become independent with feeding and care.
During my rounds as a Lactation Consultant I often come across exhausted new mothers . They often look as if they are questioning how long they can continue nursing. After a few minutes of talking I soon know why. Nursing a newborn is hard, exhausting work! Babies eat often and for very long periods of time. It is not uncommon for an infant who is two days old, to nurse for upwards of an hour. They will often nurse every one and half hours. This is called cluster feeding. They may eat like this for a couple feedings in a row and then sleep for a few hours. These time consuming feedings will slowly start to become shorter into the end of the second week of life. I can reassure my clients that nursing won't always be so exhausting. The milk volume increases over time, and the baby learns how to nurse more effectively. Most new mothers are encouraged to learn about the process and to realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! The baby will still need to eat frequently but not necessarily for an hour. I should mention that during growth spurts, feeding may become longer and more frequent again for a few days.