I had my initial encounter with breastfeeding help in June of 1980 when I attended my first La Leche League meeting. I was five months pregnant with my oldest child, and I arrived feeling curious about motherhood and wondering if I would be able to make breastfeeding work.
That was also the night I fell in love with breastfeeding. It happened as I watched a mother and her 3-week-old baby interact at the breast. In my mind’s eye, I can still see her stroking, smiling, and talking to her newborn girl while they stared into each other’s eyes. I was stunned by how alive that tiny baby was to her mother’s overtures! Others had told me that newborns were incapable of real interaction, but that mother and baby proved them wrong. Although I didn’t know it then, what I witnessed that night was the “right-brain connection” described in Chapter 1, and after that experience, I would never be the same. I don’t remember a word that mother said to the group, but the impression she left on me was indelible. I knew immediately this was the kind of intimacy I wanted with my own baby. When I left that meeting, I was confident that with this group’s help I would be able to breastfeed, and I felt even more excited about becoming a mother.
After that meeting and many more, I went on to breastfeed my three sons and threw my heart and soul into helping other mothers....
An important point to keep in mind as we promote breastfeeding and offer our help is that what initially drew many of us to breastfeeding was not the wonders of human milk (which are considerable and also described in these pages) but the miraculous way breastfeeding deepens the bond between mother and baby. Breastfeeding’s real power and draw lies in the profound intimacy I witnessed between that mother and her newborn at my first La Leche League meeting. Experiencing that—even second-hand—created a hunger in me for that intimacy with my own newborn. Experiencing it myself was my main motivation for helping other mothers feel that same amazing magic.
Let us keep our eye on that prize. Approaching breastfeeding help with intimacy and attachment as a focus enables us to better reinforce mothers’ instincts and leave them feeling empowered rather than incompetent. My hope is that Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple will give you the tools you need to both help mothers breastfeed and enhance their bond with their baby. Many of the new insights in these pages take us back to our roots but this time with a greater understanding of the underlying forces at work. We are entering an exciting time in breastfeeding. The best is definitely yet to come, both for us and for the mothers we help.