Pro Tips to Get You (and Baby) Through Trying Times(pt.3)
The final part of our Breastfeeding Guide series for new moms. Read our article below.
The final in our three-part breastfeeding series, this post features the insights and experiences of one of our midwives, Shawna Pape, MSN, CNM, WHNP. A Certified Nurse Midwife and Women’s Health Practitioner, Shawna earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, in addition to seven years of nursing experience in labor and delivery, and inpatient obstetrics and gynecology.
But her most impressive qualification on the subject may be that she navigated challenges on her own breastfeeding journey with three children, including twins.
“This is the single greatest gift you can give your child – but it’s also the most challenging and demanding physical act many women will ever undergo,” Shawna said.
Provider pep talk: Shawna Pape, MSN, CNM, WHNP
I love breastfeeding. Period. But from the start, it was a struggle.
Over the course of my career, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time getting educated on the topic, and have even served as a lactation educator. But that didn’t exactly translate into a smooth breastfeeding experience for me or my children.
In fact, my first child spent a day in the NICU – with each feeding, becoming more and more accustomed to “sweet cream showers” and large bottle nipples. She had no desire for my nipples or milk. And, even when we both got the hang of it, we dealt with endless cyclical battles of thrush and yeast. But I was proud we prevailed and I was able to feed her for almost 18 months.
Then, along came our tiny twins – with one who decided he didn’t want to eat. There was the constant fear that breastfeeding was causing them to exert “too much energy.” I succumbed and supplemented one baby while desperately trying to pump enough so that the NICU team would quit giving bottle after bottle of formula to my little guy who really just wanted to sleep. After that, came milk supply issues and sheer exhaustion.
My point is that I get it. No woman should ever be made to feel bad that she can’t or won’t breastfeed her infant. However, if I can convince you to try, you open that baby up to a lifetime of benefits: maintaining a healthy weight, receiving ideal and age-appropriate nutrition, obtaining better health through the transference of maternal antibodies (meaning less illness and lower disease risk), and some even say providing the ability to gain greater intelligence.
If you’re unable to breastfeed, the most important thing to remember is that a fed baby is the best baby. There are many resources that can help you. And, if breast milk is desired, there are hundreds of mothers out there who are willing to provide donor milk (but I’ll save that topic for another time).
Patience and focus
As providers, we encourage you to take it one day at a time. Whether you’re able to breastfeed for a full year or a few days, your baby is better to have received some colostrum or milk than none at all. Be kind to yourself, and feel good that by trying you’re doing the best you can for yourself and your baby.