Listen to Episode 10 HERE
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Breastfeeding trauma is often overlooked. It can represent a continuation of traumatic birth, come up as a new trauma in and of itself, or it can trigger previous abuse or unpleasant associations and memories with our own bodies.
With my first baby I really struggled. I managed to exclusively pump, but after 6-7 months I’d had enough. With my second baby, we’re about to hit 18 months of breastfeeding, and I have to pinch myself.
Today I interview my breastfeeding angel, Amberley Harris. Amberley is a breastfeeding consultant and registered Midwife. She absolutely changed my life.
In this episode, Amberley and I unpack some of the major differences between my first and second breastfeeding experiences and how breastfeeding can represent a continuation of traumatic birth.
Breastfeeding can trigger huge feelings of failure, shame, self-doubt, guilt, and crushing sense of bodily autonomy.
In today’s episode we cover:
- Common breastfeeding myths and negative story-telling handed down through families
- Self-fulfilling prophecies and the language that’s used (e.g., having ‘flat nipples’, or being pale = definite nipple damage)
- How we can teach birthing people about the ways in which certain interventions (medications, scalp clips, c-section) may impact breastfeeding
- Empowerment that can come from learning to express antenatally
- How we can encourage birthing people to make a breastfeeding plan rather than waiting to get help if things get difficult
- How less than 5 percent of women actually have insufficient milk supply (due to insufficient glandular tissue). There are SO many other factors contributing to difficulties with breastfeeding
- What’s a “normal” amount of pain with breastfeeding? How do we measure it? What happens to us when we’re told “but the latch looks ok”
- How you can help at that first feed. Skills for calming Mum and baby
- The benefits of time and patience. The breast crawl is replicable for months. If the first time doesn’t work out, there’s still time to encourage babies to use their instincts
- The idea that ‘her success is not your failure’. Talking positively about breastfeeding while being mindful that one person’s celebration can trigger someone else’s shame
- How I used the ‘4P’ analysis to put together a breastfeeding history and find the predisposing, protective, perpetuating and protective factors.
You can see the handout (PDF) I used about applying the ‘4 P’ analysis to my breastfeeding history here: Doctor Erin Bowe 4P analysis of breastfeeding
Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing
Jenna Kutcher’s podcast
There’s also a chapter on breastfeeding trauma in the book Traumatic Childbirth