Dear Breastfeeding Mom
Dear Breastfeeding Mom,
Can I ask you a question? Can you please stop putting so much pressure on yourself? Having gone through it twice, I know how difficult that statement is and just how much I'm asking of you. Please, stop putting so much pressure on yourself.
Breastfeeding is an intimate dance between you and baby. It's new to both of you. Your body and your baby will go through so many changes quite rapidly its no wonder it takes some getting used to. As mothers, we have to commit to redefining "perfection" in motherhood. Until we stop putting pressure on ourselves, we cannot expect society to do the same. Whether you breast, bottle, formula feed or some combination, making the decision based on what is best for you and your family is above all else the most important.
Give yourself some credit for even saying to yourself that you will try to breastfeed. It is a huge commitment, it's hard and it takes some work to get going. Sometimes it doesn't work out. It's happens, it's normal.
There is nothing wrong with you if you feel overwhelmed, tired, frustrated or all three. Give yourself a pat on the back for wherever you are on this journey. If it doesn't look magically like those fully filtered, timed exactly right instagram photos of mama and baby nursing while mom eats her super food salad and drinks her green smoothie, or side laying with baby latched and nursing in her perfectly imperfect top not, it's because that is not what breastfeeding looks like most days. Try not to stress yourself! It does get better.
But you must remember, that picture is jut that... a picture! In reality, your nipples may crack, your baby will puke on you, down your shirt, over your shoulder. You will constantly worry if your baby is getting enough, if you're pumping enough or why you are only able to pump a couple drops. All of this is normal, and OK. It is you being a parent. Try not to let it get to you. There is some magic to breastfeeding: the bond you develop, the empowerment knowing your body is continuing to fuel your baby outside of the womb. But there is some mess as well. Literally.
But that is what motherhood is: a beautiful mess, magic amongst the chaos. Breathe. You're doing fine.
It took a very long time for me to get comfortable and confident breastfeeding. But the only way I got there was to give myself a break. I had to stop measuring myself on how much I was able to pump, how easily baby latched, how long she nursed. Every mama is different. Every baby is different. Every boob is different (even on the same woman sometimes!)
Take your time. Forget the false standards we hold ourselves to. Slow down and focus on you and baby as the breastfeeding journey will be over before you know it. 14 months flew by for me! You will spend hours days, weeks, months agonizing over the little details; but you don't get that time back. And yes, I know it is frustrating and tiring and sometimes you just cant help it. But you try to control your energy, preserve it. You'll need it.
You are doing an AMAZING job. Whether it take 5 minutes or 15 minutes to pump. Whether you get 5oz or 2 drops. Whether your nipples are cracked and bleeding or if you want to give up. You are doing what is best for your baby.
Give yourself some credit. You deserve it.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, have read this far and are looking for some support, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I got you mama!