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Preparing to Breastfeed: A Few Tips for First Timers!

Hi there mamas, Alyssa here! Today I am talking about a few things that I believe are an absolute must for all first-time breastfeeders. When I had my first baby, I got hit in the face with some struggles when it came to breastfeeding. I could fill multiple pages sharing my feelings and woes in those first few weeks and months, but we’ll just summarize it with me saying that I felt like such an inadequate failure of a mom.

 

Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow - Baby Cubby

 

However, as I opened up to family members, friends, and even some acquaintances, I found that I wasn’t alone. More often than not, people had the same (or similar) struggles that I was having. Discovering that offered me so much comfort, and courage to press forward! It also kind of made me mad. I can’t tell you how many times I said “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT BEFORE?? WHY DIDN’T YOU WARN ME?!” and so on. 

Turns out, it seems to be somewhat taboo to talk about breastfeeding struggles. What mom wants to talk about their struggles with or their inability to nurse their baby when we have been told our whole lives it is our natural duty? Not many. So, that is why I am here sharing with you all today! If I can help even one person feel more confident and less alone while they sit in their rocking chair in the wee hours of the morning, then I will consider my mission accomplished!

So, here are four things for you first timers that I wish I would have done or known before I jumped in!

It might not be smooth sailing, but you are not alone

It literally never crossed my mind that breastfeeding might not be as easy as just holding your baby up to your boob. I could have just been especially naïve about it, but no one ever warned me either! So here I am telling you. It might not be smooth sailing BUT you are strong and you can do it! And if it is hard, know that there are hundreds of other mamas out there struggling just like you! It DOES NOT make you any less of a mom!
Comotomo Bottles - Baby Cubby
Comotomo Bottles

Ask women in your life questions

If there are moms in your life that wouldn’t mind sharing their experiences, ask them about it! I never even asked my own mother. Not one single question!! When I did start to ask questions (after I had labeled myself a total failure), I discovered that multiple ladies in my life struggled with everything I was going through. It sure would have saved me buckets of tears (and my poor sweet husband his sanity) if I had known that BEFOREHAND. Just ask!! Also on the flip side of this, if you have been asking and everyone you know or are related to seems to have had zero complications with breastfeeding, don't assume it will be that way for you. I have a very close friend that had that background, three sisters and a mom that were just rockstar breastfeeders from day one. My sweet friend did not have it smooth and easy, so she especially felt like she was failing. If that is your experience, don't you dare get down on yourself!!

Get a breastfeeding education

The whole time I was pregnant, I followed an Instagram account of a registered IBCLC Lactation Specialist. She offered in-person and online breastfeeding classes. I intended to buy those classes before the baby came, but just didn’t make it a priority and never got around to it. (Insert me thinking that breastfeeding was easier than a walk in the park for everyone. HA)

The night before we were discharged and sent home with our sweet bundle, I couldn’t sleep because I was so terrified to take a baby home that I couldn’t even feed. So, at 2:00 a.m., I got online and bought an online class. Within the first five minutes of watching it, I was kicking myself for not educating myself before my babe came! Seriously…DO NOT HESITATE! JUST EDUCATE!! If you just take a little bit of time, you can surely find classes and groups in your area to attend! It was worth the money for the class ten times over for me!

Covered Goods Multi-Use Nursing Cover - Baby Cubby

Cut yourself some A TON of slack

DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP!! First of all, your world just got turned upside down. Bringing home that sweet new baby, whether they are your first or not, is quite an adjustment! Breastfeeding is too. Yes, for some people it might be easy as pie, but if it isn’t, just take a deep breath (or a couple hundred deep breaths!) It may take some serious time to figure out, and that is perfectly fine and normal!!

Be open to your options

So what if you have done everything you possibly can, and you are just feeling like you are at the end of the line? Good thing you have options! You just have to decide to be open to them! If you think that pumping exclusively or just formula and bottle feeding would be better for you then follow your gut. I ended up supplementing with formula the whole time I breastfed, and I weaned long before my daughter turned one because I just needed to for my own sanity and health. I am currently pregnant with my second (due in three weeks--HURRAY!!), and have already made a plan with my husband to keep me in a healthy frame of mind when it comes to the feeding options for our little addition! Believe me, I understand the conflicting feelings, but I have also felt the relief of deciding to put my pride aside and make a decision I knew I needed to make for me!

Becoming a mom made me so passionate about moms feeling adequate, and doing what they need to for themselves while still being a rockstar mom. The feelings that come as you try to figure things out are often not very kind, and it is so hard to navigate them if you are feeling like you are doing everything wrong. I know these five things would have helped me SO MUCH had I known/done them before I tackled the breastfeeding mountain. Believe in yourself, commit to working and trying hard, let people know how you are feeling so they can help you, and take it one day at a time. Slowly but surely, things will start to feel less weird and new, and one day, you just might realize you are breastfeeding without a hitch!

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