To say I was nervous about breastfeeding would be a severe understatement. Then again, as a first-time mom I was nervous about damn-near everything, from how I was going to feed my child to leaving the hospital to sleeping. Still, the specific anxiety I faced when preparing to breastfeed was an entirely new demon, and it took me by unpleasant surprise. In fact, there are more than a few things I wish I knew about breastfeeding anxiety before I experienced it, if only so I could have been kinder to myself as I learned how to nurse my infant son.
Like a lot of feelings new moms have, I think my breastfeeding anxiety was downplayed by most everyone around me. From moms who breastfed without a problem, to child-free adults who assumed they knew what nursing was like, to my partner, how anxious and unsure and nervous I was seemed to be one of those "new mom, hormonal things" I was expected to get over, instead of face head on and discuss openly. As a result, I was left feeling alone, isolated in my own feelings, unsure of how "normal" my anxiety was and if, already, I was somehow failing my son.
Turns out, breastfeeding is rarely, if ever, as easy as we're told it will be or as we assumed it would be. Feeling anxious as a new mom is typical, although issues like postpartum anxiety are serious and require the attention and care of a medical professional. Instead of being hard on ourselves, new moms need to know that this whole parenting gig is tough... and nursing is no exception. We need to be armed with realistic, adequate, and factual information about any potential roadblocks we might face when attempting to reach our nursing (hell, parenting) goals, and that includes knowing a few things about breastfeeding anxiety before we experience it. Things like, for example, the following: