Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Moving Forward After a Difficult Birth

on September 15, 2014


If you feel that what happened during birth is getting in the way of your relationship with your baby, you’re not alone. Most mammal mothers have difficulties if they didn’t feel labor or birth, or if the experience was unusually traumatic, or if the baby is taken away from them. Many human babies won’t latch after a difficult birth and some mothers aren’t sure they even want them to. This makes a lot of sense biologically—the birth didn’t happen the way it “should” have, so neither of you received the sequence of motions and hormones that helps bonding happen immediately. You and your baby need to connect in a fundamental way. Here are some ideas to speed the process:

  • It can help to keep your baby with you 24/7, even if you don’t feel like you want to be with him yet. The familiarity that develops with being together will help your bodies to recognize each other on a primal level. He’ll grow on you. Bit by bit, you’ll find more about him to adore.
  • Spend as much of this time as possible with your baby’s bare skin against your bare skin. Smell him, feel him, caress him, savour him.
  • You could take a warm bath together by candlelight, just the two of you and no one else. Stroke and massage him as you enjoy the soothing water. Admire his wonderful skin, nuzzle him, kiss his toes. Let him nurse while you soak if he can and wants to.
  • Try holding your baby and watching his face while friends or family give you a relaxing massage—foot, scalp, shoulder, back—anywhere that feels good. Give yourself over to the sensation and open yourself up to the enjoyment. This releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone.
  • Make some decisions about him—what he’ll wear, how to hold him, how to comfort him. Taking responsibility for him helps you feel more nurturing toward him.
  • If your baby won’t latch, understand that it’s just temporary, and try to be patient rather than panicked or frustrated. Most babies will get there in time.

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Owning Your Birth

If absolutely everything you didn’t want happens to you, or even if your birth just isn’t what you hoped, this was still your story and nobody else’s. It’s a story that you will probably want to tell in detail someday to a caring friend or maybe even to your child. At some point—even years later—it can help to write it down. The good parts and the bad parts, what you saw and did, and how you felt. Your story will become precious to you for exactly what it is – the beginning of your life with your child.

There really is life after birth, and it really will be wonderful (most days). No matter how the birth goes, most mothers and babies can go on to breastfeed. In The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, we’ll show you the basics of keeping your milk supply high, your baby well-fed, and your breast a happy place while you and your baby recover from any birth issues and learn to breastfeed. There are good days ahead.

WABExcerpt from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, and Teresa Pitman





If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally








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