Lean in to worry

This week I had a wonderful message from a follower on Instagram. She had just had her fourth baby at home. 

Everyone was well and settling into life as a family of seven. The mum, however, was saying that it was weird that, despite being a really experienced breastfeeding mother (she had fed all 3 of her younger children), she still doubted her ability to breastfeed her newborn. 

That got me thinking, why do so many of us have these wobbles with a new baby, whether it be our first or fourth? 

Well, I have come up with a theory. This hypervigilance and self doubt is mother nature’s way of keeping our focus on the newest addition, who, in essence, is the most vulnerable of the pack. If you have that worry dancing in your brain, you certainly won’t forget to feed them, you’ll keep them close to observe them, and look for those really early feeding cues. 

The only spanner in the works is the society that we live in. This self doubt has been tapped into by the marketing of the formula companies, that self doubt has an answer. To give them a bottle of formula and “just see” if they take it. Baby’s, of course, will suck if something is in their mouth, irrespective of whether they are hungry or not. Think of children who suck a dummy to sleep. They’re not starving, they are just using the sucking motion to settle into sleep. So, you give your baby this bottle of formula and they wolf the lot down. In most cases this isn’t because they’re hungry, it’s merely a reflex to suck. 

So, to any expectant or new parents out there, let’s try and refrain that self doubt and worry regarding feeding your baby. Lean in to it. It’s a useful tool to keep your baby ever present in your mind and hormones. Loving thoughts about your baby will keep your oxytocin levels high, reduce your stress hormones and aid your milk being let down out of the breast. If you’ve done some learning before your baby arrives or perhaps you’re on a mission to inform yourself now, they’re here, you’ll know the signs if your baby is getting enough. My favourite resources are the UNICEF mother’s breastfeeding checklist and reading up on the fourth trimester and normal newborn behaviours.

If you find yourself consumed by worry, unable to shake it off or find reassurance, please talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP.