While pregnant with my first baby, I chose to become a breastfeeding mom. (Once he was born, of course!) But I did nothing to prepare for nursing a baby. I mean, how hard could it be, right? I have boobs. My baby has a mouth. I know where his food comes from and where it goes. Not rocket science.
Boy, was I wrong! And y’all, I was totally sold out on breastfeeding. Now I don’t mean “I’m going to try nursing him” kind of sold out. Oh no.
I’m talking “Get that poisonous formula crap away from my darling” kind of sold out. I might’ve been obnoxious. I never dreamed I’d ever use formula. And I’d have been shocked if I’d know how formula feeding improved my breastfeeding!
In my struggle to nurse him, I went above and beyond the realm of normal effort. I should have found a lactation consultant. But like many moms, I didn’t. So we struggled for 3 months (of pain, misery, and tears) until we finally got the hang of it.
The curve ball
Then I learned that I had cancer.
That’s a long story, and you can read more about it in my post about what’s more important than breastfeeding, but the end result was that my darling became a formula fed baby.
(Oh, and I survived. Don’t wanna leave you with a cliffhanger there!)
After a full recovery from cancer and a couple of years to let my body recover, I had another baby. Then another. And I realized something. Feeding my first baby formula completely changed how I approached breastfeeding!
To be honest, I’m still a bit shocked that formula feeding improved the way I breastfeed.
I learned 3 principles that made breastfeeding MUCH more enjoyable. Since I want this to be enjoyable for you too, I’d like to share them:
1. An ounce of prevention…
The biggest mistake I made was not preparing to breastfeed. I should’ve prepared ahead of time by learning how to contact a breastfeeding support line or a local lactation consultant. Oh, and I desperately needed to know that mouth on boob doesn’t equal good latch.
I also should’ve learned that there’s more than one position to feed a baby (and position can make or break you in the beginning). Learning the basics of breastfeeding and common nursing issues would have been helpful too.
A little advance preparation will make a world of difference for you! Even if your baby is already born.
Here are 3 things to do TODAY:
- Line up local lactation help! You don’t have to call them, but get their info and put it on your fridge. Visit www.llli.org/get-help and click on your nation. It will load a national map and you can choose your local area. Voila! Another option is to call the nearest hospital and ask for the phone number to a lactation consultant.
- Read about breastfeeding positions that might make nursing easier for you
- Get familiar with the Basics section of this site. It’s full of helpful articles to help you navigate the most common basic breastfeeding hurdles. Now bookmark it because you’ll be needing it!!
- Extra Credit: read up on how to prepare for breastfeeding (even if you’ve already started) You’ll love the part about creating a nursing station.
2. It’s GOOD to ask for help
With my first baby, I refused help and made life way too hard for my baby and myself. Oh, I had my reasons.
I thought I…
- couldn’t find a lactation consultant after I left the hospital.
- don’t even know how to pay for a lactation consultant’s services.
- don’t want to leave the house if I don’t have to while recovering from a C-section.
- can totally do this. Women have been doing it for eons! Cows do it for Pete’s sake!!
- must be the only woman ever not to grasp the concept of getting milk into a baby’s tummy
Calling a breastfeeding hotline or a lactation consultant would have saved us weeks and of misery and tears. I’m not exaggerating here. Learning proper latch would have rocked my exhausted new world!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, none of the reasons above is a good reason to skip asking for help. Lactation consultants are incredibly reachable, and you don’t have to leave home to get assistance. If you’re struggling, then reaching out for lactation help is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and your baby.
3. Scared milk is dead milk
There’s a saying in the investing world that “scared money is dead money.” It means that if your investments must make $$ in order to pay next month’s water bill, the pressure will skew your judgment and you won’t be profitable. BUT if you know your needs are met, you’ll feel very little immediate pressure. You can work calmly toward your goal using knowledge instead of fear – and you will be profitable.
That same principle can apply to breastfeeding. If you tell yourself that you will NEVER feed your baby formula, then his very survival will depend on you getting enough milk out of your boobs. Pressure anyone?
Even though you may not ever really give your baby a drop of formula, don’t be so gung-ho that you refuse to acknowledge that option. Do your best, get help if you need it, and be willing to compromise if your baby’s health depends on it.
Set yourself up to relax knowing that you can get help TODAY, your baby will be nourished, and everyone is gonna be fine. This way you take the pressure away. You can work toward breastfeeding calmly and using knowledge instead of fear. It’ll benefit you and your baby!
Hopefully writing this article was totally unnecessary. You shouldn’t suffer under the weight of too much self-imposed pressure. You deserve for breastfeeding to be as easy and effortless as breathing. I hope it is!
With a little advance preparation, willingness to ask for help, and open-mindedness regarding feeding techniques, you’ll be able to relax and get down to the business of nursing your baby with blissful peace of mind.
What’s one breastfeeding lesson you’ve learned? Please share it in the comments below!!