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The experience of breastfeeding

The experience of breastfeeding


Breastfeeding (like giving birth) is essentially a natural process, however, it is also a very complex, dynamic biological process intertwined with many social, cultural, and emotional issues. (These are dealt with in Class C.) As with the pregnancy, labour, birth and the personality of your new baby, the breastfeeding experience may not always match your preconceived ideas or expectations. For some women, their expectation of an enjoyable and satisfying experience brings for them an ongoing struggle, for others an initial reluctance to want to breastfeed turns out to be a wonderful feeding relationship with their baby.

Individual women will usually have various feelings about their breastfeeding experiences. Some will view their feeding as a special bond with their baby, that cannot be replaced by anyone else, one where they are needed, and where the relationship is intimate (even sensual). They may feel proud of their ability to feed their baby, and can be gratified when their baby thrives, and puts on weight, while being fully breastfed (knowing that "I did that!"). For many women breastfeeding is seen as 'easy'. No heating bottles, having fresh milk alway's warmed and 'on tap', low cost and knowing that it is good for their baby.

Other women may feel ambivalent about how intense and demanding their breastfeeding experience is. They may feel 'tied to the baby', on call constantly, with 'no escape', especially when it takes the effort of expressing their milk to have their partner more involved. Leaving their baby in the care of others can require much organisation (with expressing milk), making it more difficult (and possibly time limiting) for them to socialise, study or work (if these are desired). If their baby does not take to the bottle easily, this can lead to difficulties in leaving the baby, with all the emotions, guilt, frustration and despair this can bring.

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