Sunday, July 18, 2010

The "I Can't" vs "I Won't"

I thought this blog post was very interesting. I live in an area where breastfeeding rates are quite low. As a doula, many women come to me with a desire to "learn" how to breastfeed, or to "fix" whatever isn't working. It's always so hard to find the right way and the right words to help. The same applies to birthing vaginally, and especially naturally (by natural, I mean without meds).

When a woman comes to me for help, naturally, I do my best to support and give information. However, it's so incredibly tricky to say and do the right things without hurting a mom's feelings or damaging her already shaky self-confidence (remember, I work with moms who are going through a huge hormone and life change). Even trickier is when I am faced with the reality that telling my story of successful VBAC, HBAC and breastfeeding relationship - including overcoming weeks of breastfeeding pain and frustration, and months of post-partum depression - makes other women feel angry and guilty. When you go through something so difficult and come through the other side in one piece, you want to celebrate and tell people, "I did it!!" But, I guess every personal victory can be taken as a personal attack. I wish it wasn't that way, but, it is.

I digress. The blog is about the difference between women who can't and those who won't. The comments are really interesting, too, where some women who didn't breastfeed voice their opinions. What I've taken from it is the importance of supporting women from every walk - those who can, those who will, those who try, those who do their best, and those who choose not to as well.

What I'd like to know, Blog Readers, is how does a doula and fellow mother do that? If you have struggled with breastfeeding, what was most helpful to you? What was least helpful? Did you feel put down by anyone, and why? How could you have been helped better? Leave a comment!


Anonymous said...

My breastfeeding journey wasn't great in the beginning. My baby was latching on properly but my milk supply wasn't coming in. We were going on day 7 and I was ready to run to the store to grab a can of formula. It was stressful, my little girl was HUNGRY and I was getting panicked. I think the relationship I had with my Doula was really good because she wasn't like everyone else. When you're pregnant or a new mom EVERYONE wants and does tell you their "story" or compare themselves to you. Personally, when I'm in a bad place, I don't want to hear how someone had a great outcome no matter the struggle it took. She helped me by never telling me her experiences UNLESS I asked and sometimes begged. She'd show me articles, websites and books and kept the perfect mixture of professional and personal. For me, hearing other people's personal stories on the matter just put that much more pressure on me to get it right. The stories I wanted to hear the most where the ones of Mother's that didn't/couldn't do it, and everything turned out alright. It gave me more of a relaxed feeling about my milk coming in and about breastfeeding in general. I was able to let go and just say "if I do it, that's great and if I don't do it, that's okay too". 30 minutes after that, my milk came in.
- N.ST.

Emilie said...

That's a good point! It's so easy to fall into the trap where you have to tell your story, and even "one up" your friends. We like to make things about ourselves, eh? That's one of my struggles that I am trying hard to fix. Thanks for the input :)