When I was pregnant, I heard the joke about babies not coming with instruction manuals at least three hundred times. Okay, I get it guys, kids are hard and being a mom takes up lots of time and energy. However, the one area that I definitely, probably, should have paid a bit more attention to when I was pregnant, was breastfeeding. I ran into so many challenging moments that made me feel like giving up breastfeeding, it probably would have behooved me to, you know, look into breastfeeding and the potential complications before I actually tried to achieve breastfeeding success.
To be fair, not sure it would have made that much difference, since it’s not like my newborn baby could read them with me and learn how to properly latch and help make sure infections and bleeding nipples were a thing and make me tea so I could keep my supply up, but still; just knowing how much of a struggle breastfeeding can be, and how normal it is to have complications and and to feel like giving up, would have definitely helped.
The good news? Well, I’m not sure if this is "good" so much as worthy of a fist bump of breastfeeding solidarity, but I’ve learned many moms go through the same breastfeeding struggles. I've learned that many mothers think about quitting breastfeeding and even hate breastfeeding, and neither of those thoughts or feelings make you a bad mom. Basically, I've learned about the following moments because I lived them, and realized that even if you feel like giving up, you don't have to (if it's safe and if you don't want to, of course).
When You’ve Lost Count Of The Number Of Days (Or Weeks, Or Even Years) You’ve Gone Without Sleeping Through The Night
Just kidding, you could never lose count because it's the same amount of days your kid has been alive. But seriously, there were nights when the idea of sleeping for a solid eight hours and letting my partner give our son a bottle sounded beyond appealing. The decision to supplement or night-wean is something for each mom to decide on her own, but at least in my experience, even if a mom is dead-set on the idea to extend breastfeeding, there are plenty of moments when exhaustion causes her to re-think her decision.
When You've Had A Bout Of Mastitis
If you are currently reading this while fighting mastitis, please accept all the warm fuzzy vibes I can send to you. My own experience with it was enough to totally rattle me when I was a new mom. Thankfully, continuing to breastfeed can cure mastitis, and your doctor can help too.
When You've Had Five Blocked Ducts In Juast As Many Weeks
Especially if you have contorted yourself and your baby into all kinds of crazy nursing positions to try to fix it. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to help blocked ducts, but it doesn't mean they're not uncomfortable and inconvenient.
When You Find Out Your Nipples Can Get Yeast Infections
Seriously, you don't even have to be afflicted with a yeast infection in your nipple to want to throw in the towel when you hear this news. But, just in case you are, may I please offer my humble condolences, as well as the sage advice provided by La Leche League International.
When You Want To See Your Friends And Go To Happy Hour
I mean, happy hour is what, 90 minutes? You can swing that in between feedings, right? Of course you can. You can even avoid alcohol to make things easier. But wait, what if you don't want to avoid alcohol? What if you want to have a drink with your friends, who you haven't seen since your birthed a human? Thankfully, there's a a way to work through this if you're so inclined, and it involves waiting to nurse until alcohol has left your system.
When You Want To Go Anywhere
Okay, some things you might want to do require more than 90 minutes, but thankfully, we have options. Sort of. You can travel with your baby, or you can pump, or you can deal with the results of not feeding (on your end, I mean. I'm not suggesting that you don't feed your child. Obviously, feed your child. But just know that if you don't use your own milk, you may become engorged. I don't recommend it.). While each of these options requires some extra effort on your part, hey, at least we have options, right?
When Your Supply Dips
For the love of everything that is good in this world, I still don't understand how a mom can be working as hard as she can to breastfeed, and her supply can still get low. If this happens before you're ready, know that there are lots of recommendations for how to keep going.
When You're Simply Over Pumping
The initial feelings of relief that the technology for breast pumps actually exists quickly subsided after I, well, actually pumped. I wish I had a cure for this one, but honestly the biggest help for me was staying busy while I pumped. That, and viewing the occasional koala gif.