One of the biggest challenges a new mom faces is breastfeeding. I tell new moms that breastfeeding IS natural, but it doesn’t come naturally. It’s learned! Some might compare breastfeeding to walking. What is second nature to an adult, or even a 5-year-old, is difficult and frustrating for a toddler who is just learning. Sure enough, with the right amount of practice, a toddler begins walking (and then running!) in no time.
During those first few days and weeks, breastfeeding may be one of the most worrisome and frustrating things you will ever learn to do. That’s not meant to scare you off, by any means! However, I’ve found that if moms have realistic expectations of what to expect, things tend to go a little more smoothly.
It’s also common for moms to think they are the only ones who have issues and frustrations with breastfeeding. Not true! You know your friend who encouraged you to breastfeed? You know, the one who told you that it’s so wonderful and SO MUCH easier than bottle feeding? Yeah, well, I promise that she went through the same emotions, just like every other mom who has breastfed.
To that point, we asked moms on Instagram to describe the first week in their breastfeeding journey in one word, and then we asked them to share how long they have been feeding (or fed). Here is what they had to say:
Toe curling (4 weeks)
Continuous adjustment (3 months)
Confusing (24 months and 16 months)
Painful (15 months)
Exhausting (4 months)
Difficult (8 months)
Hard (26 months)
Emotional (5 months)
See?? It’s normal … YOU and your emotions are normal! The good news? They also had to say it is extremely rewarding, amazing and so worth it.
Breastfeeding your baby is not a bed of roses and, many times, it is not as glamorous as people make it look. Although there are tough days, the bond you are creating with your baby is unbreakable. Your body is nourishing her with food that is custom-made to meet her needs, and only you can make it! How cool is that?
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, remember these three important things:
You are not alone.
Find a strong support system. Studies show that if moms are encouraged just three times when starting out, they will be more likely to be successful in meeting their goals. Support can come from your partner, your family, friends or your physician. Look to your local hospital for a breastfeeding support group. Check out local Facebook groups for moms in your area. You can always join us at The Breastfeeding Guru - Mom’s Club where we have an intimate community of breastfeeding (and bfing moms) who support one another and offer advice when needed. Don’t hesitate to find a support system because you think you are alone -- you are never alone.
Contact an IBCLC
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant is the gold standard in breastfeeding help. You can probably find one near you by simply searching the internet, or you can use directories, such as Find a Lactation Consultant. By law, your insurance company should cover six lactation consultations during the first year. Use this toolkit to learn about the law and how to effectively communicate with your insurance company. My mission is to support you. I am here to listen to your concerns and work with you to find a solution that makes you feel empowered and strong. I know you can do this!
Give yourself some grace.
Your life has just completely changed. You’ve welcomed this precious (and needy) human being into the world. Your body grew this little human being and then went through the rigors of delivery. Your hormones are all over the place and you are exhausted. You may think you are a hot mess, but you are actually a rockstar! Remind yourself out loud every single day that you are doing a great job.
Breastfeeding is not always a straight path, but the journey is so rewarding. You got this, mama!
Keep calm and feed on!
The Breastfeeding Guru