Friday, August 24, 2007

A Wise Woman moment

All this grandmothering has brought back the experiences of 30 years ago - like riding a bike, these things once learned never really go away. And it's quite challenging to know how much to act the Wise Woman of the tribe and how much to keep my mouth shut. However, the early release from hospital of new mothers and their babies - even with the community backup - means that the environment for learning and making mistakes is considerably more isolated than it was when I had my babies and was kept in for a week without any particular reason other than because that was what they did.

From what I saw on the ward this week, the most trying area for a new mother can be the business of breastfeeding. I remember the harrowing experience of being made to wait till four hours elapsed between feeds, of wondering if I could last that long, let alone the baby, of not getting the angle right, of cramp in the shoulder with the strain of trying. Before I had my second baby, I read a wonderful book Breast is Best and confirmed all I had already learned, so that the whole thing was a piece of cake, but the first time if I hadn't had a determined and lucid mother of my own to help me I'd probably have given up - for that was what was encouraged in 1974.

But now I recall these vital tips - the basics of successful feeding: Feed when either of you feels like it - the baby or you. If you're lucky, you'll coincide. If not, tough. Feed anyway. Otherwise you'll feel you might burst and in the end the back pressure will diminish the supply of milk. And make sure the baby takes enough of you into her mouth - or she won't create the right kind of pressure and will swallow air and you'll get sore - to say nothing of the baby's insides! And if she sleeps when you want her to get a move on, tickle the soles of her feet, or pat them.

And relax and enjoy it. It doesn't go on for very long in the grand scheme of things, and you should aim to get the most out of it yourself. It's not often that you can indulge in something so pleasureable which is actually doing good for someone!


  1. Anonymous6:48 PM

    Awww! As Bob Hope once almost sang: Thanks for the mammary, O Wise-Woman-by-stealth.

  2. "Wise women" know best about these things!I remember how wonderful it was when someone told me it was all about supply and demand and I realised I was actually right to feed when either the baby or myself felt like it.

  3. I'm a breastfeeding counsellor in my "spare time" and I just wish more new mothers had a wise woman like you on hand!

  4. Anonymous11:09 PM

    Perhaps I should point you and yours in the direction of a whole bunch of entertaining/sympathetic blogs about parenting/breastfeeding & associated matters. Mother at Large and her blogroll will provide hours of good reading!

  5. Wish I'd known all that 16 months ago when I was learning how to breastfeed. Congratulations on the arrival of your grandchild. What lovely news.

    My mum says it's changed her life, having a grandaughter to love and adore. The two of them are already real partners in crime. They have jaunts to the local duck pond together and get up to all sorts of wheezes. It's been fantastic for me to have my mum nearby - and been a huge bond between us that we both love Beanie so much.

    Enjoy this lovely time, and congratulations again.

  6. I found it really hard going at first, I wasn't really prepared for how much breastfeeding would tie me down and the pain of those first couple of weeks - ouchy! I was fortunate to have supportive people around me and I'm very glad I stuck it out. However I was lucky that Sorley never had any problems latching on or feeding. It's such a big responsibility being the sole source of your baby's nourishment, it can be quite a lonely experience in the early days.

  7. But how incredibly fulfilling at the same time! I can remember vividly how sad I felt when I stopped breastfeeding and knew I was unlikely to do it again.