I honestly wish there was a way to practice breastfeeding, or at least prepare in some kind of realistic way, so that the first few breastfeeding attempts don't make you feel like a total failure. My partner and I went to birthing class, took an infant CPR class but when it came to breastfeeding? Nothing. So, honestly, when I sat down and attempted to get my kid to latch for the first time, I felt weird. In that moment I wish I would have known there were things to tell yourself if you feel weird about breastfeeding, that can make the entire experience not the odd, kind-of-painful, transitional act that it is and definitely can be, but the super awesome bonding moment that benefits both baby and mom.
Think about how nice it would have been to have at least some of the aspects of breastfeeding figured out beforehand, instead of learning on the fly with a newborn and after you're exhausted from either pushing a human out of you, or having one cut from you. There’s enough going on when you bring a new baby home that, honestly, adding breastfeeding into the mix can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back (as far as your sanity goes, although breastfeeding can definitely hurt your back, too).
And, unfortunately, the collective "we" that forms our society has yet to shed the stigma of breastfeeding (and definitely breastfeeding in public) and de-sexualize a very normal, very natural act. It would be naïve of me to think that, at least somewhere, I haven't internalized the sexualization of women's bodies, so much so that the act of breastfeeding made me feel weird and awkward when it should have made me feel proud and empowered. As women (and definitely as mothers) we all have to push past what society has either said about us, or expected of us and, well, breastfeeding was no different.
So, with that in mind and now that I have been a mother long enough to (kind of, sort of, on my good days?) know better, here a few things you can tell yourself if you, like me, feel kind of weird about breastfeeding: