Baby brain can sound like an insult, particularly in our task oriented, mathematical and rational society. But if you have been to my workshop you’ll know that baby brain is all part of natures grand plan.
As a postnatal doula time and time again I see women who want to breastfeed overloaded with task oriented, mathematical and rational solutions. Mothers are shown photos of correct attachment, read books full of conflicting information and shown videos of swallowing and sucking. They are told to go on special diets, weigh their baby, express milk at specific times of day, measures millilitres of milk and time feeds and count wet nappies…
It seems to me that the more we know about breastfeeding the harder it is to actually breastfeed.
This is because breastfeeding is a right brain activity, something we learn by feeling and doing. It is not an intellectual or academic activity, breastfeeding is emotional and relational. And the more a pregnant woman or mother knows about breastfeeding the more her brain will be filled with a hundred things that could go wrong and a thousand things to remember. A breastfeeding journey that begins in the left brain will inherently carry with it anxiety, competitiveness or lack of confidence.
Breastfeeding is a relationship, a journey. It is not something we can get right or wrong, or something we achieve. I feel it could help to think of breastfeeding with our right brain, just like sex!
1. Breastfeeding is a learned skill
Breastfeeding often begins with a few awkward encounters, but in a loving relationship mum and baby can get really, really good at it, without ever reading a sealed section. Forget about the mechanics of it all. Just get naked and hang out.
2. Prepare the mood
Low lights and relaxing music go a long way. Gaze into each other's eyes. Chat and coo and cuddle. You may just find one thing leads to another…
3. Let your baby lead the way
Communication is the key. Babies have the advantage of not yet being conditioned by our left brain culture, they haven’t read all the books yet. They live in the right brain very easily and naturally and know instinctively what to do. Where breastfeeding is a learned skill for a mother, it is an inherent ability in a baby. If you don’t believe me watch Baby Led Breastfeeding by Christina Smillie- the best breastfeeding movie EVER.
4. Nourish your baby instead of feeding your baby
If breastfeeding didn’t work out for you don’t feel like a failure. The best nourishment you can give your baby does not come in a breast or bottle, it comes from your heart. This is true even if you are breastfeeding, don’t think of it as a transfer of nutrients from one body to another. Just feel and enjoy your loving relationship with your baby.
A few more article about right brain and breastfeeding: