For whatever reason, it's more common to focus on the negative than to notice and appreciate the positive. For most moms, that's especially true for breastfeeding. There are countless articles written about how to push through the hard parts of breastfeeding, how to correct nursing mistakes, and how to survive it all. But what about the pieces that celebrate a nursing mother's successes? It's equally important to appreciate the things you're doing absolutely right while breastfeeding as it is to research and correct the issues you may face.
More than a simple push to embrace "positive thinking," celebrating your breastfeeding wins can actually have amazing effects on your milk supply, your relationship with your baby, your mental health, and your overall outlook. One article from The New York Times noted that, although they may seem like trite expressions, keeping a positive mindset can impact your health in countless ways.
This line of thinking becomes even more important when you consider the undeniable links between moms who struggle to breastfeed and postpartum depression. Although breastfeeding itself can reduce a woman's risk of developing postpartum depression, the Center for Women's Health at Harvard Medical School pointed out that when breastfeeding isn't going well, the risk for PPD can increase.
This research isn't to say that you can "wish away" PPD with positive thinking or that you can correct physical breastfeeding issues by focusing on what is going well, but the power of appreciating what you can do is no small thing. And any mom who breastfeeds at all, for any length of time, is worth celebrating.
1. Trying It
According to the CDC, breastfeeding rates continue to rise in the states, and as a contributor to that statistic. Whether you lasted a day, a month, or a year, you deserve to celebrate the fact that you tried something very difficult.
2. Working On Your Latch
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), mastering a deep, proper latch is one of the most important parts of breastfeeding successfully. It's also usually one of the first things new moms learn when they start breastfeeding. Whether you had a rough time with latch or your baby latched on like a pro, a deep latch is fundamental, and worth appreciating if you've mastered it.
3. Not Scheduling Feedings
According to La Leche League, a baby-led feeding schedule is usually the best for baby's growth and nutrition. As tempting as it may be to put your baby on a strict feeding schedule, chances are that by now, you've learned that most babies do best when they're in charge of when they eat.
4. Doing Skin-To-Skin Time
According to the Cleveland Clinic, skin-to-skin contact encourages healthy breastfeeding, promotes bonding, and can help your baby adjust to the world outside the womb. The article also noted that skin-to-skin time has the same benefits after you leave the hospital too, so if you've stuck with it during the newborn phase, your baby has an added boost and you get to enjoy even more cuddles.
5. Learning Different Positions
By now, you're well acquainted with the fact that there's no one size fits all approach to breastfeeding. Some positions work well for some moms and wreak havoc for others. What To Expect noted that there are as many breastfeeding positions as there are nursing moms and once you've found ones that work for you, you've mastered a vital part of breastfeeding.
6. Taking Time For You
Exhaustion and breastfeeding often go hand in hand. It's normal for moms to feel like they don't even know their "new mom selves" giving birth. But even if you make an effort to take time for yourself once a day, once a week even, you're steps ahead of many moms.
7. Not Stressing About Your Milk Supply
According to Belly Belly, the vast majority of women produce more than enough milk for their baby. Having a true low supply or a true oversupply is rare and if you know that stressing about your milk supply is useless (unless you're displaying true signs of low supply), then you're a step ahead of most.
8. Feeding When Your Baby Is Hungry
It seems like a simple thing, but the sheer fact that you've learned your baby's hunger cues and feed your baby when they're hungry is worth celebrating.
9. Learning The Benefits
No mom goes through the time, pain, and effort it takes to learn to breastfeed without understanding that the benefits of breastfeeding are well worth it.
10. Asking For Help
After baby arrives, most moms learn pretty quickly that taking care of a newborn requires lots of help. Breastfeeding is essentially a full time job in itself and whether you've decided to pump and have your partner take over feedings, or you've learned when to ask for help from your doctor or a lactation consultant, no mom should have to brave motherhood alone.
11. Not Putting Unnecessary Pressure On Yourself
On the other hand, knowing not to put unnecessary pressure on yourself to breastfeed because you want to live up to someone else's expectations for you is a victory in and of itself. Breastfeeding is a decision that it entirely up to a mother and her baby and if you've released yourself of the pressure to be "perfect" you'll be much happier and healthier.