“The Power of The First Hour” – inspiring or terrifying?

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This is a photo of my first ever feed.  What do you see (apart from the carefully placed ‘x’ to preserve my daughter’s modesty)?  A loving first moment between a new mother and her baby?  Yet another lactivist exposing herself and wanting to show off how great she is?

This photo doesn’t make me feel good.  It makes me cringe.  Not because of my greasy hair, man arms or post baby belly.  Because, knowing what I know now, it is no wonder I had the difficulties I did with breastfeeding.

Save The Children have brought out a document which promotes breastmilk as a superfood, specifically colostrum.  Colostrum is bloody marvellous stuff.  “The most potent immune system booster known to science”.  Of course it is – it comes out of a woman (feminist hippy, get back in your cage!)   They have estimated that 830,000 infant deaths could be avoided if they are breastfed in the first hour of life.  No pressure then. (Remember, they’re mainly talking about impoverished countries.)

I fear that with the overstretched maternity wards, funding cuts and other genius decisions that our government continues to make, this will not help breastfeeding statistics.  There will just be more women, like me in the above photo, left to their own devices, struggling and being left to feel like they’ve failed if it doesn’t work out.

So, I’d like to rectify the demons of this photo.  There are three major issues that need addressing and you will see I have identified them by very cleverly numbering them one to three.

#1.  Clearly unaware that the baby will go where I go, I decide to sit bolt upright like a Victorian school girl.  There’s a pillow behind you, moron.  Lay back and relax on it.

#2.  Obviously building muscle tone is good practice for babies, but getting them to work out their external abdominal obliques whilst getting their first sip of super, immune boosting, universe saving boob juice is a bit excessive.  And bloody uncomfortable.  Turn her tummy in towards you and hold her close, for goodness sake.

#3.  Again, the baby’s head is not fixed in space, only able to have a nipple inserted in one exact position.  So why are you trying to post it in like an oversized envelope in a postbox?  Hold baby close and help her reach up to the teat of tantalising goodness by supporting her feet and place her nose to nip nip.  Then she can open her mouth, nice and wide, to gobble as much tit as possible.  (I was going to attempt to script gobbling noises but perhaps that’s a step too far.)

So there you have it.  That’s it.  That’s all I needed to do to probably save myself from the weeks of agony from bleeding, cracked nipples that looked like they’d been attacked by squirrels.

Let me recap:
#1. Lay back and relax.
#2. Tummy to tummy and nose to nipple.
#3. Let the baby bob it’s head around manically to find the nipple itself.

If I could go back to the pre-motherhood, care-free, personally hygienic, shaven, alcohol-swilling, pooing-in-peace, me, I would probably say this.  Go find your local breastfeeding support group before the belly alien arrives.  Sit with Mums that are breastfeeding (studies suggest you’ll increase your chances of successfully breastfeeding if you’ve been in the company of lactating ladies within the previous 12 months).  Talk to them about their experiences to aid in you in gaining more realistic expectations of infant feeding and bathe in the heady aromas of oxytocin. And whatever you do, when your abdomen dweller does arrive, don’t make them do stomach crunches with a 45 degree-angled neck.

21 thoughts on ““The Power of The First Hour” – inspiring or terrifying?

  1. Loving your work Nicole! Totally support your breastfeeding attitude and what a great idea to recommend pregnant ladies observe breastfeeding mothers before the baby is born… If only I had done that too I may not have suffered either. I’m 4 weeks away from d day and can’t wait to breast feed my little bubba xx
    Look forward to your next blog 🙂

  2. Great post! I’d love more detail on the studies that show “exposure” to breastfeeding women increases breastfeeding prospects – can you remember where you saw it?

    1. I have my boob ladies on the case trying to find the actual research article because I really wanted to quote the statistic. Leave it with me and I’ll get back to you!

  3. What a great post… I too would’ve been completely at a loss had it not been for Nicky & her ‘buddies’, who tirelessly persevered with my daughter & I til we had our eureka moment at about 12 weeks. If we are lucy enough to have more children in the future, I will be preparing myself well in advance, because it was still worth every second in the end.

  4. What is described is biological nurturing and there is a great website full of info and video clips of laid back breastfeeding http://www.biologicalnurturing.com. I’m a breastfeeding counsellor and can’t recommend it enough to get breastfeeding off to a good start plus going to bf drop ins antenatally is so worthwhile but unfortunately not many mums to be do actually go along. So if you’re pregnant go along to your nearest drop in you will be so welcome.

  5. It took me 4 hours!! to actually build up the courage to breastfeed my baby boy almost 6 years ago. I had a drip in my left arm which didn’t allow me to bend my wrist (and I used that as an excuse. Thankfully baby was asleep). Breastfeeding was much more natural with my second child and she was feeding within a minute of birth. Lovely picture and thumbs up for your courage x

  6. I’d just like to say that I am a midwife and even though I have helped hundreds of women breast feed, I still looked like that when I first breast fed my 1st newborn. Never beat yourself up about that! You tried and succeded…you are in the minority. Be proud of your achievements!

  7. Love this post so much. Thank you for sharing. Had my first baby in May also Bf’ing and still going strong at nearly 8 months . You done amazing mama xx

  8. Love it…..as a midwife most of my job is helping people do this….I agree that most of us have never seen breastfeeding so it is a scary unknown….go watch people…..and use your midwife to help….if we say ring your bell when you want to feed so we can help then ring your bell…..we want to help

  9. First, I agree . You did it and that’s what’s most important. I love the idea of a lactation consult during pregnancy. Agree best advice for positioning is face to face, chest to chest. Don’t make sweet baby work out while learning. One last recommendation that I would love to see in most first breast feeding pictures, and that would be that the umbilical cord was not clamped yet. Immediate nursing after delivery triggers uterine contractions which push the fetal blood out of the placenta into babe, giving her every last stem cell and other important cells that otherwise will just be tossed out in the trash.

  10. Oh, and as for my first breast feeding experience. My son had thick meconium in the amniotic fluid (he pooped himself), which does increase the rest of his inhaling the poop into his lungs and getting a chemical pneumonia. So my sweet baby came out only to have my midwife stick her finger down his throat , clamp and cut his cord immediately and whisked him over to the NICU team. They sucked out his lungs, but was still grunting and they decided to admit him to the NICU. We insisted he be brought over to us first and I wanted to try and feed him. They were very against anything but a quick hold. But I got my sweet baby in my arms and the love was strong. I started unwrapping him and had him latch on with out knowing it (luckily I had been around lots of breast feeding). Well the NICU doc came over within the minute to collect him, but there was no bluish grunting baby to be found. He was pink, and breathing well, and swallowing without issue. To this day , I am so glad we insisted on Nicky coming over to us before going to the NICU , I can just imagine the road once started down that route.

  11. I had a very similar awkward first breastfeeding moment! I look back on those first photos and cringe! My ‘baby’ is now about to turn four and somehow we managed to figure things out I’m still breastfeeding her and her 18 month old sister 🙂

  12. Ah bless. Nothing’s easy when you first try, and that includes being a mum. Don’t cringe, be proud you were giving it a go. All power to new mums!

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