Motherhood, especially early motherhood, can easily rock your confidence. There's so much to learn, the stakes are high, the learning curve is unforgiving, and it's easy to feel like you can't do anything right. In my opinion, this is when you should focus on the things you know you're doing well. For me, that was nursing, and the act of breastfeeding made me feel more confident as a mom. It was the one area where I knew, even after a difficult start, that I was hitting my goals.
All new moms need a confidence boost. In my experience, that boost usually comes from other moms who are in the trenches of parenthood, too, and can let you know you're not doing anything wrong at all. Sometimes you're reminded you're not failing miserably when your own mom says she is proud of you (especially when she says so unprompted). Other times it's as simple as hearing an encouraging word from your partner, doctor, boss, or even just a smile from your sweet baby.
In other words, there are numerous places you can look for, and find, reassurance when you need it, especially when you're a new mother and you're riddled with self-doubt. While it's not always a source of optimism, because nursing struggles are real, breastfeeding can make a new mom feel capable and proud when they're fulfilling a role that's intimidating as hell. That's what breastfeeding, thankfully, did for me, and in the following ways:
It Was Something Only I Could Do
When you're breastfeeding, you really are the only one that can provide what your baby wants and needs. I mean, of course you can express milk and let another person feed your baby from a bottle, and you can certainly supplement with formula, but you are still the source of actual breast milk and, for me, that felt pretty good.
I Could Do It Anywhere
Breastfeeding made me feel confident because I could do it anywhere and at any time. Whenever my baby cried, I could calm him down and feed him simultaneously. Sure, I found breastfeeding in public to be a little intimidating at first, but once I eased into the entire process it was a real confidence booster.
It Was Relatively Effortless
Once I had some practice under my belt, and felt confident in what I was doing, breastfeeding was simple and effortless. While I know it's not like that for everyone, and there can be problems regardless of how much you practice, I loved how easy it really was. I wasn't prepping bottles. I wasn't buying expensive formula. It was just me, my baby, and my body. Being able to provide my baby with what he needed, with no outside help at all, made me feel amazingly confident.
I Knew How Difficult It Can Be
Breastfeeding doesn't come naturally to everyone and there's definitely a learning curve involved before it feels second nature. While I definitely don't revel in other people's misery, and I truly feel for the moms who struggle to breastfeed, knowing how difficult it can be (but how easy it was for me) made me feel more confident once I was able to exclusively nurse. I felt like I had mastered a very difficult skill.
It Made Me Body Confident
I have a rather contentious relationship with body image and confidence. However, seeing my breasts in a utilitarian, productive way, really made me appreciate them more. I felt such pride in my body for growing, delivering, and feeding a baby. It was empowering.
It Was Something I Got Better At With Practice
As a former teacher, I just love seeing the results of hard work. I love to learn new things and develop new skills. Breastfeeding was so valuable, to me, because I could see daily improvements. The more I practiced the more comfortable it became.
It Was A Quick Way To Make My Baby Happy
Hungry baby? Breastfeed. Sad baby? Breastfeed. Hurt baby? Breastfeed. Fussy baby? Breastfeed. Sleepy baby? Breastfeed. Breastfeeding ensured my baby was calm, well fed, and happy. It was a quick trick I could use anytime my son needed me.
It's definitely not always easy to figure out why your baby is crying, especially at first, and sometimes even breastfeeding won't do the trick. However, the majority of the time I fed my baby, he was quickly smiling and all-around happy. To be able to make him happy almost instantaneously made me feel like, yeah, I could totally handle this mom thing.