Breastfeeding for the first time can be exciting. It can also be nerve-wracking. Maybe you’ve had trouble in the past, you’re afraid nursing might be a trigger, or perhaps your baby has been in the NICU and you’re frightened. After all, the stigma surrounding moms who can't breastfeed is nothing short of intimidating. It’s understandable that some of us might need to talk ourselves up, and the points your pre-breastfeeding pep talk should hit should help ease you into nursing, whether it's your first time or your 100th time.
For me, breastfeeding was never easy. It never got easier, either. Even though my first time nursing my son appeared to be magical (probably because it was one of the first times I was allowed to hold my son, who was rushed to the NICU after he was born), I later realized that he wasn’t getting enough breast milk to fill his little tummy. It made me incredibly sad to realize that I could not do this thing that seemed to be (and that everyone says was) “so natural.”
One of the lactation consultants at my son’s hospital tried to give me something of a pep talk each time before every nursing session, and I do think it was helpful. It certainly didn’t fix my issues with undersupply, to be sure, but at the very least I felt better mentally and emotionally. So before you breastfeed your baby, try reminding yourself of these next few points:
Breastfeeding seems to go better when you aren’t tense and stressed out, right? And really, there’s no use in stressing. So the first thing you should do is remind yourself to be chill. Sure, sometimes things don't go perfectly, but worrying about something is never going to change the course or outcome of that something.
“Not Every Baby Latches On Easily & Right Away”
This certainly won’t happen to everyone, but more than a few new moms report that their babies have trouble latching. Of course this would frustrate any tired, sleep-deprived mom, but the important thing is to remain calm (see point one) and remind yourself that sometimes this just happens. There's nothing wrong with you or your baby.
“I Will Not Get Frustrated If My Supply Seems Lower (Or Higher) Than I’d Like”
Supply isn’t always going to be exactly at the level you’d like. You might have trouble producing any milk, ending up with a hungry baby that might need you to supplement with formula. On the other hand, you might have oversupply to the point that your baby gets fussy or even chokes or spits up because they're getting too much breast milk. Both of these issues are not the end of the world, though. There are ways to help both.
“It’s OK To Ask To Ask For Help”
It’s not all on you to figure it all out. There are lactation consultants, really rad people at La Leche League meetings, your breastfeeding friends, your breastfeeding relatives, and of course, Facebook Groups. Help is out there.
“It’s Not My Fault If My Baby Gets Upset”
Mom guilt is a real beast, y’all. That guilt will come at you like a spider monkey and especially when it seems like breastfeeding isn’t going smoothly. Tell that b*tch to go read a magazine, though, because this is not your fault. You’re doing your best, mama friend.
“I Will Not Feel Shame Or Embarrassment About About This Beautiful Moment”
Maybe you’re breastfeeding in public for the first time. Maybe you had a really sexually repressed life up to now and feel strange pulling your breasts out to feed your child. Maybe people are staring at you, so even if publicly nursing is no thing, you're being made to feel uncomfortable by complete and total strangers Whatever the case, there’s absolutely zero reason to feel any shame or embarrassment about feeding your child with your body. Do what’s comfortable for you and don’t let the world get you down.
“I Will Remember To Drink Water"
In fact, feel free to simply say, "I’ll take care of myself after breastfeeding in general." Moms, you’re going to need to drink plenty of water while your breastfeed. Remind yourself of that need constantly. I also encourage you to remember to have snacks on hand. Basically, your pep talk should include a moment about self-care.
“There Is Nothing Wrong With Supplementing”
I had to supplement with my son. I wished I could just breastfeed exclusively, but life sometimes forces you into compromises you didn't plan on making. That said, I have zero regrets. Remind yourself prior to starting that it’s totes cool to get some help from the formula fairy.
“I Will Do This As Long As It Works For Me & Stop When It Doesn’t”
Say it with me mamas: FED IS BEST. Don’t force yourself into a miserable situation because you think being a breastfeeding martyr is more important than being happy and/or being a good mom. I nursed for four months and then had to tap out when I realized I was too exhausted and felt awful as a result. And you know what? My baby loved me, he still loves me, and he’s freaking enormous (thanks to dad for the tall people genes).
So don’t stress. Breastfeed for as long as it works for you, and then let it go, Elsa style (or is it Anna? Whatever, you get me).