The biggest thing I learned while breastfeeding is that I really needed a lactation consultant.

While I was pregnant, my vision was that I would exclusively breastfeed my baby. So, as preparation part of the preparations for baby, I didn't buy any bottles or formula. People told me it's good to have at home in case but I was so set on breastfeeding that I didn't even go out and buy it. A friend gave me bottles from her child which she did not use anymore and that was what I had, just in case.  

I birthed at home (we were living in Amsterdam at the time) in a birthing pool with my husband, doula, and midwife. The birth was a deeply spiritual journey, a positive and empowering rite of passage. After the birth, the baby was on me, skin-to-skin, right away for one hour at least before she was weighed. After weighing she was placed back on me and was put to the breast. The Kraamzorg (a postnatal maternity care aid who comes to your home after you give birth in The Netherlands) that was with me on the day of the birth explained to me how to latch but gave a very stressed energy. The first week with the baby was a true rollercoaster.

The postnatal maternity aid was counting (wet) diapers when she came over each day and this made me feel quite stressed, wondering if I was providing my baby with enough milk?

I am very thankful for a friend of my mother's who is a lactation consultant from Israel (where I am from) and my Mom put me in touch with her. She was available to me for every question I had. I'm so happy that I was able to receive this support! I trusted her opinion and was able to turn to her with questions - and learned just how important it can be to have a specialised lactation consultant to help you along as you learn to breastfeed.

On the 3rd of 4th day, the baby was getting yellow (jaundice) and so I was encouraged to give formula and pump. I rented a pump which arrived the same day and started feeding, giving formula, and pumping during every feed.

This took so much time and required the cooperation of my husband and myself. We were timing the feedings and this was so overwhelming. After 1-2 days the baby was getting stronger, I stopped pumping, we stopped the formula, and focused on breastfeeding. From the second week, I was feeling much better - going with the baby's natural rhythm, stopped timing and counting and just went with her. 

I received lactation support as I mentioned online from a lactation consultant who lives in Israel. My postnatal maternity aid (Kraamzorg) during that week was not very knowledgeable in breastfeeding and I didn't feel such support from her. I learned that the postnatal maternity aids (Kraamzorg) are not always as knowledge about breastfeeding and that it's much more helpful to get in contact with a specialised lactation consultant - sooner rather than later - if you have questions. This was the main support and resource I used after the birth.   The biggest thing I learned is that I really needed a lactation consultant.

It is SO needed to have that on demand help when you need it at whatever time of the day. Breastfeeding isn't necessarily something that you learn right away all on your own - it's important to get to know how breastfeeding really looks like 'in action' by seeing other mothers doing it as well. It's also important to get your partner's support so that when it's hard and you feel like giving up, you have a cheerleader!

Danielle - Mom of 1 - Helsinki, Finland

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