So much of what we hear from moms pivots on this theme: I didn't expect it [new motherhood] to be like this. This is equal parts crazy and totally understandable. On one hand, there has NEVER been more information out there for new moms. Thanks, social media. And yet, so little of it feels relevant until you're IN IT, and simultaneously, so few of the perfect Instagram squares rings true.
This is certainly true of breastfeeding. When you've never seen a woman breastfeed, or you've muddled through a tricky pregnancy with risk factors, or emerged with a rainbow baby after loss... focusing on getting through each day and just surviving takes precedence. The breastfeeding research, and lactation consultants on speed dial seem to have very little to do with getting mom and baby to the other side healthfully. And don't get us started on perfect pictures of happy, shiny new moms and babies with no real context..
So there you are... shell-shocked, tired, and suddenly bombarded with advice. Latch this way. Self-attachment is key. All hail the magic hour. Skin to skin. And we believe all of this. No doubt. But without some prep and carefully considered consultation, moms in their most vulnerable moments feel like agency is being taken AWAY, when we actually want them to feel empowered. Our expectations are so totally misaligned. The village (nurses, LCs, well-meaning family) think they are helping mom be her best. But so many moms feel criticized, and that they aren't fully heard.
Bridging this gap in expectations isn't simple. but we do believe it boils down to a very straightforward action: LISTEN. Leaping in to adjust latch, extoll the virtues of skin to skin, and swooping on to the next mom/friend/partner in need of our "guidance" without taking time to listen to mom, understand how she's feeling, hear her fears and anxieties and teach her how to listen to her own body to act with agency... this is our job as members of her village. Moms deserve to feel as empowered as we tell them they are.