Breastfeed? It seems the simplest gesture that has ever existed and, in reality, it is: baby food ready at any time and in any place, no tools to sterilize before or after feeding, no measuring spoons of powdered milk to check, mix and heat or temperatures to check. Breastfeeding, however, is not always a walk in the park and, even if some very important lessons are dedicated to the subject in the I prepare courses, when the mother comes home with her bundle she may also encounter difficulties that seem insurmountable mountains. Don't worry: everything can be overcome. Just let yourself be taken by the hand and help, without shame or fear. The doctor, psychologist and psychotherapist tells us about it.
Doctor, breastfeeding seems like the easiest and most natural thing in the world, yet it isn't always. What are the difficulties that new mothers express?
“Breastfeeding, as well as pregnancy, is the most naturally unnatural thing because the various parts of a woman intertwine creating a complexity that has no equal. The mother finds herself instinctively and physically able to make a gesture that very often is not accompanied by the emotional part that inevitably after the birth is upset both for a physiological issue (the hormonal adjustment produces an emotional decompensation), and for a mental issue ( daily life must be fully reviewed following the needs of your child). From the main actress of her life, the new mother turns into a director with the main task of directing actors who do not communicate their needs with words, but with tears. Mothers very often follow preparto courses that at a theoretical level make them educated on physiology by giving basic information, but which, when put into practice, create greater confusion and a sense of inability. The new mother wonders if she will be able to help the baby latch on or if breastfeeding on demand will limit her daily life. She wonders if she will be able to get back to her job or simply if she will be able to take a walk with her friends for the sake of relaxing a bit without feeling guilty. It is obvious that the difficulties are many and range from the expectations of friends and family, to the finding of a balance that is broken by the arrival of a child. Furthermore, I would like to point out that breastfeeding becomes even more difficult if you have previously experienced a traumatic event linked to a previous pregnancy with a bad outcome. In this case the difficulties that the new mother brings are of a relational type, a sense of guilt linked to a past that has not been overcome, but which she still screams in the present. But everything can be managed with a few but important tools ".
In your experience, are mothers sufficiently supported in this task? How important is the entourage that surrounds them? For example, the grandmothers, who often gave infant formula bottles without worries ...
“Very often the entourage surrounding the new mother does not support, but destroys her self-esteem, confusing her and making her feel unfit. How many times have we heard phrases like "I know how to handle your child, I raised you and your brothers"? These are phrases that inevitably unknowingly affect the new mother's sense of security and make her unable to trust herself and her baby. I always say that mother and child have a preferential channel that goes beyond verbal language and goes beyond all experience. The preferential channel I am talking about is made up of smells, tastes, caresses and sensations. Every mother when she begins to trust herself is able to perfectly understand her child by creating a language that is only theirs. I don't want to say that mothers and mothers-in-law should be politely invited to leave, leaving new mothers and grandchildren calm, but surely even advice becomes important and functional only if given on request. Of course everything is subjective and I don't want to generalize and I believe that support when it comes to breastfeeding becomes a difficult and delicate job. The role of fathers is fundamental, both for the mother and for the child and it is the only one who can fit into that exclusive language between mother and child ".
Let's talk about the fathers ...
“Fathers are a source of natural support for mothers, the only ones who can give new mothers strength and confidence. However, I want to emphasize that very often new fathers take all the emotional load by supporting their partner without giving themselves a space in which to live their emotions. I believe it is important for the couple to find a balance in which both components think of each other as mothers and fathers who are born together with their child, because as I always say when a child is born, a mother and a father are born and together they have to find a way to grow while respecting the diversity of their subjective and relational needs. Finding a balance is not always easy and it can often be difficult. For this reason it is important to ask for help from professionals in the sector who, by offering new points of view and tools, can help to cross this moment of transition with greater serenity. For example, at the headquarters of the Georgia Association, meetings are held with the aim of offering tools, related to parenting and for the management of the new role and the newcomer, which allow mothers and fathers to find their way to give themselves to child and learn from it ".
Let's remember what are the benefits of breast milk ...
“The newborn is born with a very immature digestive system and mother's milk provides the nutrients already available and ready for absorption that cover his caloric, protein, mineral and vitamin needs, stimulating the maturation of the digestive system and the immune system. Breast milk satisfies all the nutritional needs essential for the development of the central nervous system, the immune system and the hormonal system. Furthermore, together with the satisfaction of emotional needs, an irreplaceable “dance” is created between the perfect and natural parts of which the mother / child relationship captures and exploits all the resources. Breastfeeding also establishes body composition based on the right amount of muscle mass and fat. Summing up, breastfeeding allows for adequate somatic growth (gold standard for infant growth curves), prevents obesity, allows regular psycho-motor development, protects against infections and allergies, produces immunomodulation, promotes a strong bond emotional mother / child ".
It is undeniable that breastfeeding on demand is heavy. How to best live it?
“Breastfeeding on demand becomes stressful if the mother does not have all the tools to manage it in the best possible way and especially if she experiences a legitimate and temporary estrangement with a sense of guilt. Mothers often think that using a bottle invalidates the main concept of exclusive breastfeeding. It is not so! I believe that pumping the milk and allowing the father to offer breast milk from the bottle is a way to continue to offer the correct nutrients to the baby, have a space to rest and maybe go to the hairdresser for the mother without feeling guilty, and it is useful to the father who through that natural gesture can establish an equally important father / child relationship. Many say that too much information has made us lose the information transmitted by grandmothers and aunts, however I believe that today's social context imposes many differences on us because mothers also work and above all because fathers now want to make their role equally important by legitimizing it. and taking part in family life and relationship with their child. I think it is more useful for the whole family system ”.
What role can associations like Georgia play for breastfeeding mothers?
"The Georgia association offers a listening space where mothers and fathers can open up, bring their experiences and understand together what is the best path to take for the good of the entire family system, without feeling judged if they do not want to breastfeed. at the breast or if they burst into endless tears if they are tired and do not know how to manage the baby they have always wanted so much. Sometimes mothers and fathers are made social requests that go beyond all expectations and that the only effect they have is the birth of malaise and sense of guilt. We fight against all this because we believe that the "work" of mothers and fathers is the most difficult in the world and adolescent children will already be enough to make us feel guilty if we have worked too much or too little and nothing will ever go well. Childhood is the most beautiful moment and we must enter into the perspective that we must grow together with serenity, shaking off the heaviness that social expectations often give us. Another important aspect that I cannot fail to consider is that, if in the past of mothers and fathers there are traumatic events, such as the loss of a child during pregnancy or immediately after giving birth, everything will be much more difficult physically and emotionally. I still remember when a mom brought me her difficulty in breastfeeding because she thought she was giving milk to only one of her babies. All this can be faced and overcome but these are delicate moments in the life of a parental couple, which must be faced with the "right closeness" and functional tools ".
Once there were nannies, then there was the boom in infant formula, now again we try to encourage breastfeeding as much as possible. How many changes, including cultural ones. What is your opinion?
“I believe that it is undeniable a socio-economic game that with the passage of time has created good times and bad times. However, this has created confusion and a paradoxical misinformation in too much information. By now we all know the benefits of breast milk, the nutrients of infant formula, the 10 Unicef steps rather than the IBCLC prerogative, but no one knows their way anymore. I think it is important to know everything well and then understand what can make us happy and make the children we bring into the world and raise happy and happy. It does not matter what we decide to do but it is essential to do the thing that allows us greater serenity. There are no happy and healthy babies just because they are breastfed, but babies are happy and serene if the mother who is breastfeeding is. And therefore I believe that we cannot erase prejudices because we are human, but we can know them in order to better govern them. I want to emphasize that I am pro breastfeeding, but only if the mother feels it and only that what she does makes her happy ".