A recent study by the John Hopkins School of Medicine showed that the brain learns motor skills faster by processing errors than any other way. In the past it was assumed that people learned and performed a motor task faster the second or third time around because they had more practice, but this is not the case. Although practice helps, the learning part comes from the brain's processing of mistakes. The brain, which never ceases to amaze and surprise us with its abilities and cleverness, stores memories of motor skill errors in performing a task which it then processes for making adjustments for the optimal outcome. We knew our brains were smart, but this shows that they are even smarter than we first thought as they can successfully automatically critique our every motor action to figure out what works best, sort of like self-coach we didn't even know we had.
This science can be applied to almost every area of life figuratively and directly to physical areas that relate to motherhood, such as breastfeeding your baby. As we know all babies are different. So although it may be easier to breastfeed the second or third time around, what worked before on one baby (one particular hold or technique for latching) may not be as effective on a different child. It takes trial and error to find out what works for both your baby and you in the breastfeeding relationship. It also takes trial and error to figure out the times of day, amount of time and a multitude of other factors for optimal results in breastfeeding.
For example, maybe your baby needs to be woken up a little first by having its diaper changed or a layer of clothes peeled off so they are not too hot and more awake. Maybe you need to play with your baby a little first to get them more stimulated. There may be a certain hold that works better at nighttime than daytime. Perhaps you nurse better an hour after dinner or a big glass or water as your milk supply is full. For some moms their best nursing sessions are first thing in the morning when they've had more sleep and restful time for their body to fully replenish their milk supply. There are so many factors involved in finding success in breastfeeding, particularly early on.
One of the encouraging facts about this study is that your baby’s brain. which is amazingly wired, is also processing the trial and error information and figuring out how they can best feed. That’s one of the reason why its easier to breastfeed a baby with each additional week of life and experience that you stick with it. However, it is helpful to have an expert, such as a lactation consultant, to observe and offer advice on holds and techniques for breastfeeding your baby early on and especially if a problem arises. They can help speed up that learning process by using their expertise to narrow down on what might be going wrong or what adjustments you can try.
The key is to stick with it and not give up hope when things don’t seem to be going well. With your brain and your baby's brain working together, breastfeeding will get easier. There will come a point when your baby knows all of your queues to nursing without you needing to spend fifteen minutes preparing a nest of pillows and props and mirrors to make sure they are positioned just perfectly. Before you know it you will only need to barely lift your shirt or nursing top ever so discreetly and your baby will know exactly what to do without you needing to pause for a breathe as you talk to a friend.
Trust in the miracle of your brain with trial in error (and any additional professional help you may need) and nursing will be a piece of cake in no time. Also with all of those calories you burn nursing you can treat yourself to that occasional piece of cake without any guilt!