As a new mom I didn't feel at all confident in my ability to breastfeed. It didn't matter how many books I read or classes I took, it wasn't something that felt natural in any capacity. Even at the hospital, when I had a significant amount of help and resources, I felt lost. So when I realized, to my exhausted dismay, that there are a slew of things bound to happen the first time you breastfeed outside the hospital, I started to significantly doubt my ability to feed my body with my own body. If only I had known then what I know now.
Admittedly, I struggled quite a bit with both the idea of breastfeeding and the act itself. Nursing wasn't something I ever envisioned myself doing... until I did it. So the entire act was incredibly foreign, and when I found myself sitting on the couch trying to nurse my baby more often than not I was terrified. It was a struggle to get my baby girl to latch in the hospital, and that struggle continued when we were outside of the hospital, too.
We made it through those initial breastfeeding hurdles, though, and slowly but surely I gained confidence as a breastfeeding mom. And later on I learned that my self-doubt was a pretty typical feeling, so it's not like there was something fundamentally wrong with me and my ability to parent. So if, like me, you're feeling lost in a sea of breast pumps and feeding sessions, know that you're not alone and chances are very high that things will get better. And until then, just embrace the suck (literally) and surround yourself with support as you make your way through the following postpartum breastfeeding moments:
You'll Forget Everything You Learned
It took about an hour after I left the hospital before I was nose-deep in breastfeeding books, trying to find a slew of answers to my seemingly endless questions. I tried to remember what the lactation consultant said, but nothing was registering. I'll go ahead and blame the fact that I had recently given birth and hadn't slept for a few days.
Everything Will Feel Foreign
Everything that was "normal" didn't feel normal to me. Of course, since this was my first time breastfeeding that's to be expected, but when so much of your life has changed so suddenly feeling lost and unsure is extremely unsettling. My body didn't feel like my body, especially when my baby was refusing to latch.
You know all those hormones that were surging through your body when you were pregnant? Yeah, well now they're coming out of your eyeballs. I cried through my entire first "alone" feeding session at home, people. I just had so many feelings and the only way I could articulate them was to cry.
You'll Wonder Why They Let You Leave The Hospital With The Baby
Honestly, who thought this was a good idea? Who looked at my partner and I and concluded that we had things handled, and could take care of this tiny human being all by ourselves?! It's truly an incredible, albeit scary, feeling: to realize you're a mom and, because you're breastfeeding, responsible for feeding your child.
You'll Snap At Your Partner
Even if they do everything right. Even if they are supportive and understanding and accommodating. Even if they stay the hell out of your way like you asked them to. Inevitably, you will snap at your partner because they can't lactate and you can so this breastfeeding thing is all on you.
I need a t-shirt that says "I'm not responsible for what I said when I was breastfeeding."
You'll Celebrate Every Little Accomplishment
Figured out how to put your breast pump together? Throw a damn parade. Had the breastfeeding pillow and bottle of water at the ready before you sat down for a feeding? Alert the Associated Press. Able to get your baby to latch on the very first try? STOP THE WORLD EVERYONE MUST KNOW ABOUT THIS MONUMENTAL ACCOMPLISHMENT.
You'll Doubt Yourself
Self-doubt is a pretty common feeling, especially when you're a new mom and everything feels unsettling. And since us moms seem to be the hardest on ourselves, we often forget our wins and only focus on our perceived failures.
My advice? Hold onto one of those moments when breastfeeding felt effortless (or even manageable) and let it carry you through the moments when you feel horrendously lost.
You'll Feel Like A Real Mom
Pro Tip: you don't always feel like a mom when a doctor places your baby in your arms. You don't always feel like a mom when you're in the hospital, constantly being checked in on and monitored by trained medical professionals.
But when you're at home, breastfeeding your baby all by yourself, that moment will likely hit you. You're a mom, you're feeding your baby, and you're doing what at one point seemed pretty impossible. Whoa.