“Breastfeed your baby”
“It’s a beautiful thing”
“You will love it”
“Breastfeeding is the natural thing to do for your baby”
While these are things I’m sure I’ve said and will likely say again, let’s get real – breastfeeding is hard! If it were easy, everyone would do it and it wouldn’t be such a hot button issue (i.e. Breast is best vs. Fed is best). Even if you are a great producer, there’s the mess. Sticky milk (and baby pee) everywhere! And if your milk production turns out to be just adequate, there’s the stress. Is my baby getting enough? Is my baby gaining weight? Am I really doing the right thing? Not to mention how uncomfortable it can be.
Those first few days (weeks?) can be trying for a new mom. Sometimes it may seem like giving up on breastfeeding is the best thing to do for everyone (especially mom’s own sanity). But, ask anyone who has persevered through those first weeks and come out on the other side successful, and they will tell you it’s worth the hard work. Everyone’s baby-feeding journey looks different, but these are a few things I think everyone can benefit from during that journey.
1. Have an optimistic attitude
Attitude is everything! If you go into breastfeeding with the idea that you can do it no matter what – you will do it. No matter what! It’s easy to get discouraged by issues you may come across with a new baby, but with the right attitude, you can work through those issues and move on. You can do it!
2. Get support
Yes, you can do it, but the support from people around you will make “doing it” that much easier. A partner, a parent, a friend, even a lactation consultant can be that person (or people) to give you the support you need to continue and be successful. It is so important to have someone alongside you in this journey to encourage you – to celebrate your successes and tell you it will be ok when things aren’t going great.
3. Define success
What does successful breastfeeding mean to you? You get to define what is right for you and your family. Yes, there are scientific reasons for exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months etc, etc (I would be happy to discuss those recommendations with anyone who is interested), and the more the better. But that may just not be feasible for your family. Whether it’s maternal or infant illness, lifestyle, or even just preference – you define success. You may have to revisit your definition a few times during your journey also. Things happen, situations change – it’s OK. You are doing the best you can in this moment for your baby!
So yes, breastfeeding is hard, and can seem impossible to continue at times, but it’s so worth it. The benefits for mom and baby both are endless! Plus, you get to say “I did it!” in the end.