I am one of the lucky ones in that breastfeeding came relatively easily for me. An hour after Amelia was born, she latched on and we never looked back. Now, at 9 months old, we are still happily breastfeeding and I am very proud to say that my daughter has never tasted formula. Not once.
Even though breastfeeding came easily to Amelia and I, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have our share of obstacles – cracked nipples, oversupply & engorgement, and mastitis. There were a few times in the first few weeks where I was in so much pain from breastfeeding that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it anymore. So what kept me going? Determination and perseverance. I am the type of person where when I put my mind to something I DO IT regardless of the obstacles. I’m stubborn like that and I find a way to achieve my goals no matter what.
I hear far too many stories from women about how breastfeeding was hard for them and they either struggled and were miserable the whole time or they just gave up all together. For some, breastfeeding was not an option due to medical reasons. This sucks to put it simply. I would be heartbroken if this were the case for me. However, baby needs to be fed so you have to do what’s best for you and your baby.
I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I am a successful breastfeeding mama so I figured I would share what helped me in hopes that it may help others.
While pregnant, I kept hearing from all walks of life how “hard” breastfeeding can be and that if I want to be successful at it I HAD to take all the breastfeeding classes out there and read all the books before the baby arrived. Bullshit! All of that hype started making me nervous and I began to fret. What good was that doing me? Nothing. All that did was make me nervous and think of all the negative possibilities. So I chose not to go to any classes. I did read about the different breastfeeding positions and that’s it. I figured there’s no use in worrying about what could go wrong and that I should figure it all out as I go. Instantly, I relaxed thus during my first breastfeeding session I was calm and positive instead of anxious and negative. Babies are like horses – they can sense your emotions. So if you are approaching breastfeeding all anxious and worrisome your baby is going to pick up on that. So chill out. Seriously. Drink a cup of tea and have faith that you will figure it out and if you don’t there are lactation consultants out there ready and willing to help you make it work.
Reach out for support
There is so much breastfeeding support out there if you need it. You just need to reach out. Lactation consultants are amazing. Talk to other breastfeeding mamas. You WILL need to vent about your sore, cracked nipples and how tired you are. And you need to talk to someone who’s been there and can empathize. Your partner/husband/boyfriend is not the person to vent to. They have no idea. No matter how much they try to understand they can’t.
Make sure you have comfy nursing bras and tanks
I ended up buying what seems like every different brand of nursing bras and tanks out there. I have come to the conclusion that you should not bargain shop. Buy what is comfortable, not affordable. If you plan to breastfeed for the recommended duration of a year than you are going to be wearing these bras for a while. Invest. Seriously.
One word. Lanolin.
Lather this stuff on like your life depends on it. In hindsight, I wish I started using lanolin on my nipples immediately. Instead, I waited until I needed it which was a mistake. It works. Really well. Use it all. the. time.
Make a breastfeeding station that’s comfy
Breastfeeding takes it out of you. You will be excruciatingly thirsty and starving all the time. You will also be leaking every where before your supply regulates. I made a breastfeeding station so I didn’t have to run around the house looking for things. I breastfeed sitting in a comfy glider and ottoman. Next to it I have a basket full of snack bars, bottled water, nursing pads, lanolin cream, burp cloths, and hand sanitizer. The Boppy pillow is right next to the glider and I have my iPad set up with headphones so I can watch Netflix, surf the web, or read a book. Let’s face it – you are going to spend a lot of time at this breastfeeding station so you might as well be comfortable and entertained instead of miserable and staring at the wall all the time.
Ask for help
You are doing the bulk of the work in the beginning and when you aren’t feeding baby you barely have enough time to take care of yourself. Ask for help cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. You will not have the time or energy to do any of these things especially in the first few months when babies breastfeed every 1-3 hours.
Drink TONS of water
Not only is this important for you to heal, but it is also important in keeping your supply up.
You should do this all the time, but now it’s even more important than ever. A healthy mama equals a healthy milk supply equals a healthy baby. Eating poorly also makes you feel even more tired than you already are and feel even crappier than you already feel after giving birth.
Breastfeed on demand
Everyone is obsessed with getting babies on a schedule. Yeah, a schedule is great later on but it is completely unnecessary and impossible for a newborn. Breastfeed on demand. Let that baby use you as a human pacifier. Your milk will come in sooner and the likelihood that you will have supply issues is small. There is a time for schedules and such but not in the beginning. The only thing I “scheduled” was bath time. Other than that, if Amelia wanted to eat an hour after her last feeding, I let her. The time for a schedule will come later so don’t force it before it’s time.
Don’t give a shit about other people’s opinions
This attitude happened early on for me. American society can be so messed up sometimes. It amazes me how some people view breastfeeding as sexual or disgusting or inappropriate. You know what’s inappropriate? Thinking a mother nourishing her child is inappropriate. Don’t listen to these people. They need therapy. Lots of it. Proudly breastfeed your baby in public. Please do so because the more public breastfeeding there is the less taboo it will become. I personally don’t use a privacy blanket. My daughter likes to play with my shirt and her feet while breastfeeding so the damn thing never covers us up anyway. Also, it’s cumbersome and uncomfortable. So I just got rid of the thing. Seriously, you see more from a woman wearing a bikini or even a tank top than what you see while a woman is breastfeeding. Do what makes you feel comfortable and forget about everyone else. They can get over it.
**Plus there are federal laws in place protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. Don’t EVER let anyone discourage you from feeding your child in public.
Bask in this sweet bonding time with your baby
Whenever you feel tired or overwhelmed or over it – just look down at your sweet baby breastfeeding. It’s the yummiest thing ever and will instantly put a smile on your face and make you realize it’s all worth it.
I hope this helps! I’m very passionate about breastfeeding so feel free to reach out to me for moral support or to vent. I’d love to hear everyone’s breastfeeding stories as well so feel free to start a conversation in the comment section 🙂
I leave you with a sweet picture of Amelia breastfeeding just hours after she was born. I love this picture and am so glad this moment was captured.