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Is Breastfeeding Easy?
Breastfeeding is one of the best things that you can do for your baby. However, we know that anything “good” doesn’t always come easy. For many women, breastfeeding is a daunting task. It takes time, effort, and tons of practice. And yes, in the beginning, sometimes it hurts—like hell!
Even if you’ve mastered it in your mind and think it looks easy, it’s not at first. Yes, I know there are a few supermoms out there who are super feeders, but that isn’t the case for most women. Truth is many of us have to work at breastfeeding to be successful.
Trial and Error…Oh my!
Each breastfeeding journey is unique. When I was a first-time mom, I had to go through trial and error to make breastfeeding work. I struggled for the first couple of weeks. Eventually, things became significantly better, and I became really good at nursing. I couldn’t believe I made it to 17 months. I even traveled to Japan and New Zealand as a nursing mom. No breast pump, no pacifier, just me.
Subsequently, I managed to reduce the amount of trial and error in my second birth. This made breastfeeding a breeze. Let’s explore the best ways I’ve discovered to succeed and prepare for breastfeeding.
1. Be in the right mind-set
First, to be successful at breastfeeding, you need to want to do it. Period. Make sure you’re not doing it just because your husband, mom, friend, or provider wants you to do it. Make sure you’re doing it because you want to, and you know that it’s in the best interest of your baby.
In other words, you must be in the right mind-set. You need to have prepared your mind and told yourself that this is something you’re going to do. Create a space in your mind to allow you to be open to breastfeeding.
2. Education is key
Take a breastfeeding course. Breastfeeding may seem easy. I mean you’re just offering your baby a boob. How can that be difficult? Believe me, it is. There is more to breastfeeding than just offering a main course to your baby. It can be challenging, especially for first-time moms.
Take a class to make breastfeeding easier
There is a lot to learn about breastfeeding. One of the best ways to make sure you are prepared is to just take a class. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I love courses, classes, tutorials, and so on. They are a great way to learn and get better at your craft. Similarly, they are a great method of preparation.
In addition, they help you learn basic breastfeeding techniques. Besides, taking a breastfeeding class can ease your mind about breastfeeding and help alleviate your fears or dispel myths that you may have been struggling with.
3. Get connected to your local lactation or mom groups
One of the things that have allowed me to be successful at breastfeeding was utilizing my village, with the intention of finding like-minded individuals for valuable support.
Yes, there are some women who can master the art of breastfeeding in a matter of days. However, don’t be upset if that’s not your story. Plenty of women, myself included, have needed extra help with starting breastfeeding. In other words, find your village.
With this in mind, remember that other women have been in your shoes, and many of them are eager to help you succeed.
4. Breastfeed on demand
Stop being obsessed with having your baby eat on a schedule. Don’t force-feed your baby; let them eat when they are ready. In the beginning, your newborn may seem like they are on a schedule. You wake them up, they eat every 2–3 hours, and you spend your time counting diapers and making sure they’ve gotten enough to tip the scale on their first weigh-in.
However, after a couple of days, cluster feeding begins, and you may find yourself overwhelmed if you’re the scheduling type.
Having a schedule is tedious
In fact, I found that keeping a nursing schedule is tedious and overwhelming as a first-time mom. I became stressed because my baby operated outside the schedule I had set. The stress wasn’t good for the baby or for me.
There is no need to keep up that tedious schedule. Just let the baby decide. Breastfeeding on demand has been amazing. For example, I no longer worry about pumping (unless I’m working) or meticulously watching the clock.
Moreover, I let my baby decide when they need to nurse. I know what you’re thinking: how do you do that? I have to say it’s fairly simple. When the baby cries or shows early “I’m hungry” cues, then offer your breasts. It’s that simple.
Take a breath, Momma. In the beginning, you’ll have lots of anxiety about nursing, which can paralyze you and end your breastfeeding journey before it even begins. There’s nothing that slows down your milk more than being stressed and intense. Calm down, and relax. Also, relaxing will help your body with “letdown.”
6. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help
Another thing I was extremely grateful for during my breastfeeding journey was access to a lactation consultant. Having a breastfeeding expert to connect with and help was priceless.
You can take a class, read articles and books, and even watch videos, but nothing beats you doing the tasks. Having a lactation consultant, hands-on, helping you with the baby’s latch and showing you various techniques is worth its weight in gold. As a result, I have been able to become awesome at breastfeeding.
How Do I Find Help?
Lactation support can be found at your pediatrician’s office, OB/GYN, local hospital, and in your communities such as your church. If you can’t find any, ask another breastfeeding mom for recommendations. Don’t suffer quietly or alone.
7. Stop relating others’ breastfeeding experiences to your own
As women, we tend to base our worth and success on what other women are doing. Stop focusing on what other moms are doing and focus on yourself. Focus on getting yourself where you need to be to make sure your baby is getting what they need.
When you see Mary posting her breastfeeding pics on social media, don’t compare. You never know how hard she and the baby may have worked to get where they are. Let’s focus on your journey.
Having a newborn is exhausting. You’re eating and sleeping less. For the first few weeks postpartum, you are a zombie. I can’t remember the first two weeks of either of my kids’ lives because I was so exhausted.
Thus, self-care is so important. After coming home from birth, just take the time to get to know your baby. Don’t worry about doing too much. Try to cut down on the number of people who want to come see the baby. Let yourself just sit and spend time resting and doing skin-to-skin with your bundle of joy. This will ultimately help your milk flow as well.
First, make sure you have everything you need ahead of time. You will be stressed out about dealing with a newborn, and you don’t want to have to worry about having all the breastfeeding supplies.
For the first few weeks, your milk production will not be regulated. You may start leaking at the drop of a hat; you don’t want to spend your time searching for breast pads. Having a good stash set up in each room you intend to rest in with the baby is optimal.
In addition, make sure you have proper bras and shirts to make nursing easier so you can focus on getting the perfect latch.
Remember, every mom has their own journey with breastfeeding—sometimes good and sometimes not so good. I believe that to be successful at breastfeeding, you need to prepare, educate yourself, and be open to new techniques and ideas. What works for one baby may not work for another. Just know that you are not on this motherhood journey alone. Make sure to reach out. There are tons of support out there.
Are you having anxiety about breastfeeding? comment below.