All of the information you see about breastfeeding talks about how you should position your infant, how you should hold your infant and how your infant will gaze into your eyes when you are nursing. Be aware, this is NOT true in the case of newborns!
My son was 8 pounds, 9 ounces and 20 3/4 inches long at birth, and there was NO way that I could properly hold or position him to nurse. Now that he is 4 months old, it is MUCH easier to position him properly and hold him properly and he lovingly gazes into my eyes, most of the time. When he was a newborn, I had a great deal of trouble nursing him and we actually used a shield for a while in order to get him going. Between being overstimulated by a flux of guests at the hospital (no one told us new parents not to have too many visitors!) and being urged to eat and eat often since birth because of our ABO blood incompatibility, he had a very tough time and had to stay an extra day because he was not eating enough. We had to bait and supplement with formula while still in the hospital, but we were able to stop when we were at home.
I was so stressed when he was a newborn because I couldn’t get him to latch “perfectly” like all the information I have read said. It seems like there is no time to get them to latch, and while they say you can “lightly stroke his lips” with the breast, my newborn wouldn’t have that at all. I recently saw an article in BabyTalk or American Parenting, or some other baby/parent magazine that had explanations about different “types” of nursers. There was the baracuda – which mine is – who munches forcefully and quickly, latching on at the turn of the bra. There is also a drowser – which mine is too – who will fall asleep nursing… but don’t remove him, whatever you do, because he’s NOT done! My son has a very quick temper, and he lets me, and everyone else in earshot, know that he was not done but was merely resting. It reminds me of when my brother was drowsy in the backseat of our van and when I asked him if he was falling asleep he replied that he wasn’t falling asleep but merely thinking hard. My son is, as Dr. Sears calls them, a “high need” child.
When you are a new parent, there are plenty of things to be stressed about, but nursing shouldn’t be the largest one. Breastfeeding is hard to learn, but it’s much easier than preparing or warming a bottle in the middle of the night. It’s really tempting to give up on nursing when you are confronted with your first growth spurt or the early introduction of a pacifier has led to nipple confusion, but there is a wonderful support system in La Leche League and other new mother/breastfeeding support groups. Even if you cannot go out to a meeting or there are none at times you can attend, there is plenty of support on a variety of online forums. Bloggers and websites alike have a great deal of information and support to offer as well. La Leche League even has online meetings where you can enter a chat room and get support, share and connect with other mothers! Please do not give up on nursing, but find some support. The stem cells, antibodies and other benefits of the breastmilk is worth it!