Finding success in exclusive breastfeeding takes a lot of things, including but definitely not limited to luck, hard work, time, energy, support, and confidence. Now I can't help you with the first four things, and when it comes to support I, as a stranger on the internet, can only do so much. But the confidence? Girl, I got you covered with a few pro-tips on very easy things you can do every day to increase your confidence in exclusive breastfeeding.
It's reasonable that confidence can be hard to come by when you're exclusively breastfeeding, and for a variety of different reasons. Maybe you're having trouble maintaining your supply and you're worried. Maybe you feel completely drained in every way possible. Maybe it really hurts and you don't know why. Maybe someone is making you feel bad about yourself because "no one needs to see that." Or perhaps you're just still feeling your way through this whole "motherhood" thing and you don't really have a great sense of who you are anymore.
Regardless of the reasons why you're feeling any amount of self-doubt, let me just say the following: Mama, you're doing great! You are a milky and extraordinary goddess! You are doing it, even when the going is really tough! You are an inspiration! You should be proud! People should be doing elaborate cheerleading dances in your honor!
Like I said, there's only so much I, as an internet stranger, can do in terms of support, but I hope this goes to show that there are those of us out there (including people you know, and people you don't even know) who recognize your struggle and are rooting for you. And if this doesn't make you feel more confident, maybe some of these exercises will:
Talk To Other Exclusively Breastfeeding Moms
The greatest resource a mom has is other moms — they can offer fresh perspectives and helpful hints, and they've been in your shoes. No one has the ability to empower you more than someone who knows your struggle.
Unfortunately, too often, we're closed off from one another, either physically or we're just too scared of feeling judged. Put that aside, find a buddy, and pour your heart out to them — you might be surprised that you're not met with judgement but a confidence boost.
Brag About Your Accomplishments To Safe People
Obviously going on about how awesome everything is going isn't the kindest thing to do to your friend who's struggling. But go ahead and tout your accomplishments to your partner or BFF or mom. You deserve to toot your own horn, so don't let all those confident, feel-good feelings get snuffed out under a barrel.
Get In Touch With A Support Group
For some breastfeeding parents a support group, full of experts and fellow breastfeeding mamas, is what gives them the knowledge, support, and confidence to keep going. While it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to attend these meetings every single day, you can nevertheless be in touch with someone from a group every day.
Be Sure To Celebrate *All* Your Victories
Even if you're not celebrating them with anyone. It's easy to dwell on all the things that aren't going well. Feel your feelings, to be sure, but don't let it get you down and balance it out with the things that you're doing better at. Even if the only "good" thing you feel like you're managing is "sticking with it," which is impressive in and of itself.
Rehearse Snappy Comebacks To Hypothetical Haters
Exclusively breastfeeding means that, at some point, you're going to be nursing in public (either that or you're going to become a hermit and never leave your house and, well, I don't recommend it). Of course, being out in public means you may be subjected to unsolicited opinions... and if there's one thing people have opinions about it's breastfeeding. After all, it involves so many things people get annoying about! Women's bodies! Parenting! Food!
So I find practicing retorts to naysayers is a great way to fortify yourself and boost your confidence in what you're doing. You may never find occasion to use these quips, or you may freeze in the face of them if you are ever confronted. But the very act of building yourself up is in and of itself useful.
Purchase Nice Nursing Bras
Finances permitting, getting yourself a pretty nursing bra (and some of them are very pretty indeed) is a good way to feel great about your decision to let a tiny human feed from your body. And besides, you're going to be wearing these things pretty exclusively for however long you're planning to breastfeed. Of course clothes aren't the most important thing, but for a lot of us, draping ourselves in clothing we like and feel comfortable in can do wonders for our self-esteem.
Don't Take A Challenge Personally
If you're finding something difficult as you exclusively breastfeed, don't make it about you. It's not that there's anything wrong with you, it's just that your situation is tough. Exclusive breastfeeding is hard guys! Even under the best of circumstances it takes a toll on you, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Accept That Bodies Are Bizarre
All bodies do weird stuff. Take, for instance, farting: you stick a bunch of food in your face hole, grind it into mush, and swallow it to decompose in a meaty bag of acid inside of you. As it decomposes, gases are formed and emerge from your butt. That's... weird.
Breastfeeding is no different, only it's weird stuff we're not used to coming from body parts we've been informed are supposed to be nothing but sexy. Just commit to the idea that your boobs are part of your body and bodies are weird and you'll be more confident about the fact that your baby's food leaks out of your nipples at inopportune moments.
Stand In Front Of A Mirror, Shake Your Boobs, & Sing 'Milkshake'
I didn't do this. Definitely not. And I certainly didn't change the lyrics to, "My milkshake brings all the babies to the yard." That would be weird. I'm not weird. Shut up! You're weird.
Surround Yourself With Supportive People
At the end of the day you are all you need because you are enough...
... but it's a lot easier to deal with all that exclusively breastfeeding entails if you have a support system who reminds you of that fact.