Oh, breastfeeding. You are so wonderful and so . . . HARD. Those first weeks of breastfeeding are just so raw with such a steep learning curve. Time and time again, I talk with moms who struggled to adjust to breastfeeding and felt guilty for their struggle. I was so there, and now I’m here to tell you, these are normal feelings, I feel your pain, and I am sending you a virtual hug right now.
I know you love your little one more than life itself. And that you would give her the world if you could. I know there are times you are just flat out exhausted and overwhelmed. And the beautiful thing is that the struggle does not mean you love your little one any less. It just means you are on this beautiful, messy, wonderful, emotional journey we call motherhood. Know that it will get easier for both you and baby. And in the meantime, please know that these normal feelings are totally valid and common. Here are a few feelings I experienced in my first few weeks of breastfeeding. What else have you experienced?
Not only does it sometimes take some painful attempts before you and baby figure out how to establish a good latch (my babies all chomped on me instead of sucking when they were first born – can we all collectively say OUCH!), but then just as you both get the hang of getting a great latch, your milk comes in. Your boobs are hard as rocks and hurt like crazy. Plus, you just pushed a baby out of your body or are healing from major surgery. And as much as you desperately want to sleep, you can’t because you are solely responsible for feeding a little person around the clock. I’m pretty sure you are 100% allowed to feel overwhelmed.
The best advice I can give you is to focus on taking care of you and baby. Let other people take care of everything else for those first few weeks. You’ve got this, Mama. And yes, you are SuperMom, but please do whatever you need to ensure that you spend most of those first days in bed or on the couch. Give yourself time and space to heal. And over the next few weeks, you and baby will both settle into a rhythm, and things will start to feel a bit easier. I promise.
There are so many new things to try to understand when you start breastfeeding. With you being new to this and baby being new to this too, let’s face it, breastfeeding is flat-out confusing in the beginning weeks. I’ve often asked myself questions like, why won’t my baby stay latched on? Am I doing this, right? How do I hold baby and nurse comfortably?
I want you to know that you will work through all of these confusing first weeks, and before you know it, you and baby will be breastfeeding pros. Also, please know there are tons of professionals out there who are available to help answer your questions. If you are having trouble and feeling confused, find a lactation consultant to help answer your questions.
It is so normal to be concerned that baby is not getting enough milk or to feel anxious about not being able to provide enough for baby. I’m on my third baby, and I worry about it every time. Logically, I know that baby is getting enough, but I still worry. It’s just what we Mama’s do. Your pediatrician or lactation consultant can help alleviate these concerns, or if there are any challenges, like a lip tie or a tongue tie, they can help recognize it and give you guidance on how to get it corrected. They can also give you some good pointers on how to know baby is getting enough.
As if there weren’t enough crazy emotions going on inside of us, then we start feeling guilty for feeling all of the other feelings. All I can say here is, take a deep breath, Mama. It is okay to cry. It is okay not to have it all figured out. You are a great mom. You are strong. You’re giving your all. Baby will be okay. And, so will you!