Before your baby arrives, everyone has advice. Advice about how to take care of your newborn, advice about what you should bring to the hospital, advice about how to handle maternity leave… Yet the one area with a huge lack of advice is breastfeeding.
There is a lack of information and resources during prenatal visits as well as information when it comes to what to expect, how to prepare for breastfeeding in pregnancy, and what to do when you run into breastfeeding struggles. This can take a toll on a new mother’s mental health and leave you with more questions than answers.
As a soon-to-be breastfeeding mom, there may be barriers– here are some things that you should know!
Preparing to be a New Breastfeeding Mom
One area that isn’t talked about enough is how to prepare for this new journey that will take up an immense amount of time! Newborn babies eat a lot, and breastfeeding is basically a job by itself! Breastfeeding is an amazing part of being a new mom, but it doesn’t come without its difficulties.
1. It doesn’t come easily for every breastfeeding mom
There isn’t a step-by-step manual that every baby follows, and there is nothing wrong with you or your baby if breastfeeding doesn’t come easily. With so many pieces to the puzzle, your breastfeeding journey can change at any given time. Don’t become discouraged if you or your baby cannot figure out this breastfeeding idea! There are tons of different factors at play, and it’s all about finding what works for you and your baby. If you are looking for assistance in this area, I offer lactation services to give you guidance, answer your questions, and provide you with plans and resources for your individual breastfeeding journey.
2. Breastfeeding can look different for every mom
Whether pumping, nursing, supplementing with formula, or all of the above, breastfeeding is complex. Each scenario has its own complications and its own benefits. If you have questions about the different forms of breastfeeding or other related topics, The La Leche League is an amazing resource for a new breastfeeding mom.
3. Understanding common breastfeeding issues
There are many breastfeeding issues you may run into, but here are some that may sound familiar: tongue ties, inability to latch, flat/inverted nipples, using the wrong flange size for pumping, a newborn not wanting to stay awake long enough to eat, engorgement, and nipple pain… the list seems to go on forever! But it’s not just you, mama. If you are struggling with breastfeeding and want to keep trying, don’t give up! Speaking with a lactation counselor could help you determine the cause of your breastfeeding struggles and provide solutions to help you on your journey.
I want you to have a successful breastfeeding experience, which is why I offer lactation services. From simple flange sizing to an information-packed session, I can share tips, and resources, and help you make plans to fit your individual breastfeeding journey.
4. Accessories for a New Breastfeeding Mom
When you create your baby registry, you probably won't think to include items that you will need! As a breastfeeding mom, there are necessities and tools that will be extremely helpful for you. Here are the items that you might want to consider adding:
- An Electric Double Breast Pump and Accessories (check out my favorite pumping and nursing necessities on Amazon)
- Manual Hand Breast Pump
- Correctly-sized and comfortable flanges
- Nursing pads
- Nursing bras
- Milk collection bags
- Nursing and/or pumping-friendly clothing
- Nursing covers
- LaVie Lactation Massager (use code: EPMAMA10)
- Nipple shields
- Nipple cream/butter (I recommend Earth Mama Organics… use the code EMPOWEREDMAMA to get 15% off your order!)
- A good baby tracking app to help you remember which side to nurse on (this comes in handy for those late-night feeds!). I recommend “Baby Nursing” as an all-in-one baby tracking app. You can find it on Apple or Google Play.
These are the basic accessories that you will need to prepare. However, throughout your journey, you will find amazing and convenient tools that fit your needs.
Breastfeeding Can Affect Mental Health
While some moms find joy in being able to breastfeed, other breastfeeding moms struggle. They worry if their baby is getting enough milk or if they are latching correctly. In addition, they may worry that their baby isn’t gaining weight or growing on track because they have a lack of confidence in their body and breastmilk. Along with these worries, they begin to feel lonely. Besides, it is extremely easy for a breastfeeding mom to feel “touched out.” If you feel any of these emotions, it’s perfectly normal! Motherhood is pure, loving, aching, purposeful, frightening, and beautiful.
If you feel like you are struggling with your mental health, it’s best to share these feelings with your partner, loved ones, and your doctor. Postnatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression and anxiety are very real and affect women in different ways. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you if you feel overwhelmed, overtired, stressed, anxious, or depressed. Lean on the people around you and get the help you need so you can enjoy the experience of being a new breastfeeding mom!
Feeling Alone as a Breastfeeding Mom
A major concern in the breastfeeding community is that many moms don’t realize how lonely breastfeeding can be. All types of breastfeeding come with their own challenges, whether you are exclusively pumping, exclusively nursing, combo-feeding, or triple feeding.
For example, pumping moms have to find a schedule that works for both mom and baby. It’s all about finding a balance, including finding a schedule that will work each day, caring for a newborn during the time in between, and if you are preparing to go back to work, finding times and places to pump while at work.
Additionally, some nursing moms may feel like they always have to isolate themselves in a room to nurse their baby; whether it’s for their own comfort or because they have a distracted baby, this can make them feel disconnected from their family, friends, and the rest of the world.
On top of all that, it may feel like no one understands what you are going through or how you feel. Your partner may be able to give your baby a bottle sometimes, but it can bring on feelings of frustration that you are the source of food for your baby.
Although you may feel alone, it’s important to realize that there are so many other women who have gone through this or are going through it now! Your individual situation may be different, but there are plenty of people who want to support you as you figure out this new way of life. You and your baby are not alone.
Breastfeeding as a New Mom
Breastfeeding looks different for everyone. At the end of the day, what really matters is that this time with your baby is fleeting. No matter what your breastfeeding journey looks like, remember to preserve those memories with a breastmilk keepsake to remember your breastfeeding experience for years to come.
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