Starting to breastfeed for any period of time can be exhilarating, challenging, frustrating, and a slew of other emotions and expectations. What woman doesn't want to ask their own mom (assuming that's possible and/or that woman's mother isn't toxic) what her breastfeeding experiences were? When a woman is choosing or attempting to start a journey that can be as difficult as it is wonderful, there are things every breastfeeding woman should hear from her mom to help her feel supported and validated and, well, ready.
For me, I started my breastfeeding experience with, well, a lot of trepidation. I knew my own mom had problems breastfeeding me way back when, and had given up on the entire experience just six weeks in, when it appeared she wasn't producing enough milk. She went to her doctor for advice, but I guess lactation consultants weren't as prevalent back then as they are now. The doctor immediately gave her formula to feed me, I appeared to settle down, and that was that.
I encountered my own (and multiple) problems breastfeeding, and while my mom didn't have a lot of advice to offer me, what she did offer was unconditional support. She told me she was proud of how hard I was trying to make breastfeeding work, she marveled at my perseverance, and she offered help whenever she could. In short, she continued to be a loving, supportive mother, just as I was coming into motherhood myself. She was able to offer the type of support that a partner can't, just because she had been through it herself, and I know how lucky I am to have experienced all that support and encouragement, especially in the early days.
So, with that in mind and in the hopes that every breastfeeding mother is getting the love and support and encouragement that she needs and deserves, here are 10 things every breastfeeding woman needs to hear from her mom.
"I'm Proud Of You"
Giving birth is often the time when you'll hear people tell you how proud they are of you, but honestly, I needed that kind of support when things got tough after labor an delivery and especially during breastfeeding. Thankfully, I did get that kind of support from my mom, who was proud of my perseverance, despite my troubles with breastfeeding in the beginning.
"You're Doing The Best You Can"
No new mom needs to hear about all the things she could be doing better, especially when it comes to breastfeeding. Acknowledging that you are doing all you can to feed this baby, despite any trouble you're running into, is exactly the support you need from your own mom.
"Yes, Breastfeeding Is Hard Sometimes"
There are times when you just need your mom to tell you that what you're going through is tough. That kind of validation, especially from the woman who went through it when she was breastfeeding (or attempting to breastfeed) you, can really help you to feel supported when things are tough.
"Whatever You Decide, I Support You"
When you're on the brink of deciding to switch to formula partially or fully, you don't need anyone telling you what you should or shouldn't do. You just need someone to tell you they will support you no matter what.
"It Doesn't Matter Whether It Was Easier Or Harder For Me. What Matters Is Your Experience."
There's no use comparing yourself to your mom. I remember when I was pregnant with my first child, I obsessed over the fact that my mom had to give up breastfeeding at six weeks due to lack of supply. I assumed I would be the same, but that just wasn't the case.
"What You Are Going Through Is Valid"
Moms really are the best validators, aren't they? Just hearing from your mom that it's OK to feel whatever it is that you're feeling can be enough.
"You're Allowed To Not Enjoy Breastfeeding"
Not every mom likes breastfeeding. Some hate it so much, they stop. Others persist, despite hating it. Hearing that you're allowed to not enjoy it can help you soldier on, though.
"It's OK If You Need To Ask For Help"
If you hold your mom up as the pinnacle of being an awesome mother, you may feel like you're letting her down by not being (in your perception) as good a mom as she was to you. You're not letting her down, though, and hearing as much from her will hopefully allow you to get whatever help you need to have a successful breastfeeding relationship with your baby.
"It's OK To Want Your Body Back"
There's a term that's been floating around, about moms being "touched out" and this is kind of where it begins. Your mom's generation may not have had the term for it, but she will know exactly what you mean when you explain it.
"Breastfeeding Doesn't Always Come Naturally"
While I understand the reason behind calling breastfeeding a "natural" experience, it's also somewhat dangerous to define it as natural. For so many women who are unable or have trouble breastfeeding, it doesn't feel "natural" at all, and claiming it is can leave a woman feeling like there's something wrong with her body. It's beyond helpful to have someone who has been through breastfeeding themselves, tell you that it's OK when it feels more difficult than natural.
"I Love You No Matter What"
Unconditional love from your mom, as you're going through the challenges of being a new mom yourself? Absolutely priceless.