126284064/Fotolia

How To Survive Exclusive Breastfeeding, As It Takes A Lot Out Of You

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Deciding to exclusively breastfeed an infant is not usually a decision that's made lightly. There are many factors to consider including a mom's lifestyle and whether they have any emotional triggers associated with breastfeeding. Many women know that even though breastfeeding has been a trend since the dawn of time, that doesn't mean it'll easy. Once in the trenches of nursing, you may wonder how to survive exclusive breastfeeding, especially when you feel like you really want to stop. Rest assured, many moms have felt the same way you have, and there are ways to get through breastfeeding, even the hard parts.

Women should aim to exclusively breastfeed for at least one year, according to The World Health Organization. There are plenty of proven benefits to a nursing mother and her baby like emotional bonding, immunity, and the cost. This is all good and well, but that doesn't mean it's easy and free from hiccups along the way. Exclusively breastfeeding a baby takes commitment, practice, and a whole lot of patience.

Whatever your challenge is or whatever breastfeeding challenges crop up, there are ways to get through them. Just because you're struggling, doesn't mean you have to stop all together (unless you want to, and that's totally your choice). Here are seven easily implementable things you can do to help you survive exclusive breastfeeding.

Ad failed to load

1Surround Yourself With Support

GIPHY

"Support is vital to successful breastfeeding- and parenting, in general," Monique Cowan, postpartum doula and family coach, tells Romper. "Having folks to help around the house, bring you water and food, and to just be your cheerleader can make all the difference in the world."

Back in the day, postpartum women had the support of other women: mothers, grandmothers, sisters, etc. They were physically available and geographically close by to help with all things mama and baby. If you have this set up, take advantage of it, and direct those around you to your needs.

For those breastfeeding moms that don't have family and friends nearby, build modern support systems. Nursing moms can join breastfeeding support groups on Facebook, online breastfeeding chat rooms, purchase online lactation sessions with a certified consultant, or simply video chat with a fellow mom who can lend an ear. There's always a way to build a support system, and it's important that you find ways to do it if you want to survive and thrive during all phases of breastfeeding.

2Have Your Partner Help

GIPHY

Maybe they can't breastfeed for you, but there are plenty of other things they can do.

"Your partner likely wants to help, but just doesn’t know how," Lindsey Janeiro, certified lactation counselor and nutritionist, says. "Communicate what you and the baby need."

If you have a partner or spouse, have them hold a boob for you, or ice pack your nipples, grab a burp cloth, or fetch you a one-handed food item to shove in your mouth while nursing. Additionally, if you get touched out from breastfeeding the baby non-stop, Janeiro suggest you enjoy some "sweet post-nursing snuggles."

3Accept That Breastfeeding Has A Learning Curve

GIPHY

"Breastfeeding is a natural process, but sometimes, it has a learning curve for both mom and baby," Cowan says. "So, it is very important that mom is gentle with herself."

This might make perfectionist breastfeeding moms kind of twitchy, and I get it. Ditching the idea that perfection is the goal is imperative with breastfeeding. Learning is the goal and figuring it out with your baby together is generally how the process goes. Perfecting your practice will come later, and if you're unkind to yourself during the journey, you could really suffer.

"Stress will send your milk supply on a downhill slope," Cowan says. She advises new moms to learn relaxation techniques and say affirmations. If you feel ridiculous saying them, think of your own, then say them. You're breastfeeding survival depends on it, even if you feel silly.

Ad failed to load

4Allow Yourself To Struggle Without Judgement

GIPHY

"Just remember that breastfeeding for the first time is never easy for any new mom," Dr. Sherry Ross, an OB-GYN at Providence Saint John's Health Center, says. "Allow yourself to struggle, it’s completely normal."

Literally, no one knows what they hell they are doing when the nurse or doula puts a baby to their mother's breast the first time. Again, while breastfeeding is touted as natural, that doesn't mean it's easy. You will struggle with a plethora of breastfeeding issues including cracked and sore nipples, dips in supply, and maybe even mastitis. It's all part of breastfeeding, it's all normal, and it's all OK.

There is no need to judge yourself and feel shame, there are lot of other women who have the same struggles, or who have been there before.

5Eat As Healthy As Possible

GIPHY

According to What To Expect, a breastfeeding mother is burning roughly 500 calories a day nursing. Nursing takes a lot out of you. Eating well will help keep your energy levels up, your mood in check, and provide your body with all of the necessary nutrients it needs to function (which is super important when taking care of a baby that needs you non-stop), including aiding in your milk production, as explained on the same website.

6Practice Self-Care When Possible

GIPHY

"While being on-call to your little one, do not forget to nurture yourself," Cowan says. "Take time to do things that feel good to you and make you come back to yourself, remembering that you must care for yourself in order to care for your baby."

It's like when you're on a plane and they tell you about the oxygen masks. Secure yours, before helping others.

Ad failed to load

7Know Where To Seek Professional Help

GIPHY

Just because breastfeeding is supposedly a natural human experience, that doesn't mean help isn't needed. Sometimes professional help can help you get over your hardest nursing hurdles, you just need to know where to find it.

"Whether you’re just starting your breastfeeding journey or you’re coming to a close and weaning, there are several points along the way where it’s good to know where to turn for help," Janeiro says. "Find local lactation consultants, breastfeeding groups, or contact your local La Leche League International."

Exclusively breastfeeding is a commitment and along the way there may be struggles. That doesn't mean you can't get through them. The most important thing to remember is to cut yourself some slack, and take comfort in knowing other moms have been where you are. However you choose to handle your breastfeeding challenges, is OK, and will ultimately be the best thing for you and your baby.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}