Sunday, October 14, 2007

Practice, practice, practice...breastfeeding

"I certainly have not the talent which some people possess," said Darcy, "of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. ..."

"My fingers," said Elizabeth, "do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women's do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault--because I will not take the trouble of practising. It is not that I do not believe MY fingers as capable as any other woman's of superior execution."

-- Pride and Prejudice; thank you, Miss Austen

I cannot for the life of me figure out how to breastfeed in a ring sling or wrap. I can do it in a mei tai, though somewhat uncomfortably in a psychological sense, but my baby protests like nobody's business when I try to lay him down, strap him on, cover his head, and walk around.

Still, I assume it's my own fault that I haven't accomplished this feat. If I never get around to it with Mikko, I figure I'll manage with any future kidlets.

So I become puzzled when other women have breastfeeding difficulties and just assume they're incapable and throw in the towel. I'm not even talking here about women who give up breastfeeding entirely, or about women I'm annoyed by because I think they're giving up too easily. I'm instead thinking of women who really want to perform some achievable breastfeeding feat but don't.

One that comes up a lot is breastfeeding without a Boppy or My Brest Friend or other pillow support. I'll hear women say they can't go anywhere or nurse in public because they have to have the right chair, the right footstool, the right cushioning. I sympathize with them wholeheartedly if their baby is within a month old and/or if they're having difficulties beyond the normal new-dyad learning curve.

But sometimes I hear in their tone an assumption that they can't breastfeed without the pillows, indeed that they never will be able to. And my response to each of them is: Of course you can breastfeed without the pillows. Just do it.

I mean, honestly, we get, what 20 chances a day to feed our little tykes (OK, that's what it feels like with mine). That's 20 chances a day to practice a new position, or a new location, or whatever. And if you or the baby doesn't feel like it this time, that's cool -- you'll have another chance in 15 minutes. (OK, that's also what it feels like with mine.)

See, I know my failure with the ring-sling nursing is because I've tried it a whopping 3 times. Three times! In four months of round-the-clock feedings. Obviously, I haven't really been trying.

If nursing without pillows is important to you, you'll figure it out. Practice!

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