Breastfeeding: Even the experts struggle

Lyndy Peterson started her heath care career as a nurse aid in postpartum at just 19 years old. She had worked in the newborn nursery in Minneapolis and returned to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1992 to work with new moms.

Peterson had just given birth to her third child when she suddenly found herself on the opposite side of a familiar situation. This lactation consultant was suddenly struggling to breastfeed.

“It happened to me,” recalled Peterson. “Everything went beautifully and easily with my first two. My third one, that one was the struggle.”

She remembers saying the same things she had heard all too often from moms she was helping. She was frustrated. She was tired. She was ready to give up. That’s when the lactation consultant knew that she needed some help.

“Before, if a mom told me she wanted to quit, I was like, ‘For heaven’s sake,’” said Peterson. “I totally understand now when a mom feels like giving up. I’m very glad I didn’t quit, but I wanted to. I really wanted to.”

Importance of touch

Experts have several suggestions to help mom and baby have a more enjoyable experience.

Peterson says one the most important factors is skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby just after birth. As the new baby lays on mom’s chest, mom’s body will help regulate the baby’s temperature. It also helps the baby’s heart rate and blood sugar levels. It’s also a good time for the baby to find mom’s breast and attach for the first feeding.

“I often say breastfeeding is like riding a bike – some kids take longer, some need training wheels,” Peterson said.

She adds that new moms wanting to be successful in breastfeeding should surround themselves with positive people who support it. She often reminds moms that the experience should not be painful. Pain is a sign that the latch isn’t as good as it could be. Also, she suggests a quick and close latch, getting as much nipple in the baby’s mouth as possible, and it should be up and toward the back of baby’s mouth.

“Sometimes it does go easy. We can’t forget that sometimes it goes easily and beautifully,” Peterson said.

Help available

For moms needing help or support, Peterson suggests reaching out quickly.

For example, lactation consultants are available to new moms at the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls. There is also a new arrivals program held on weekday mornings from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Sanford Women’s Plaza. New Baby and Me sessions are held there Thursday afternoons at 1:30 p.m.

Peterson said the bottom line is that whether it’s an easy experience or you struggle to the point of exhaustion, moms are not alone and help is available.

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