When I was pregnant with my daughter last year, I attended a free breastfeeding seminar. My attitude was not exactly conducive to learning anything that wasn’t labor-related. My line of thinking at the time was, how hard could nursing be? Don’t you just pop the baby on and let him or her do their thing? So, you can imagine what a shock I experienced when my little one was born a few months later.
Breastfeeding was hard. There were blisters and blood and lots of tears – both mine and my hungry baby’s. I almost quit a million times over out of sheer frustration, physical discomfort, and a general feeling of defeat. Instead, I harnessed the advice of wise women who’d walked down this same road before me. With their words echoing in my mind, I was able to power through those first difficult weeks and actually come to enjoy my breastfeeding experience.
What advice would you give?
Are you a new nursing mom or an expectant mother looking ahead to baby’s arrival? To offer encouragement, comfort, and the benefit of their experience, I’ve called in the true experts – real moms who’ve been there, done that. I asked them for the advice they’d offer their younger, new-mom selves. Here’s what they said:
“Don’t give a single thought to your weight, boob size, or body image. I was so self conscious and I started counting calories when my daughter was two weeks old. That’s way too early!” – Jackie, mom to Violet, 2 years old
Read more: The nursing mom’s eating handbook
“Expect to have trouble in the beginning. It’s not easy and it’s not always comfortable, but it does get better – and soon you will absolutely enjoy it (pain-free!).” – Maggie, mom to Danny, 3 years old, and Charlotte, 6 months old
“Do not follow crazy advice that goes against your better instincts. People told me to only let the baby feed for so long on one breast before switching sides, for example. Also, try swaddling your baby before feeding if he or she is super handsy.” – Sara, mom to Peter, 3 months old
“Don’t be concerned with what other people think about how long you breastfeed. I made it to 14 months, but I always felt like some people thought it was weird that I was doing it so long.” – Katie, mom to Jack, 16 months old
“Don’t let your pediatrician guilt you into formula feeding if you don’t want to. There were so many times when I was struggling to nurse that my daughter’s doctor would try to push bottle-feeding. I almost caved to that, even though I feel so strongly about breastfeeding. Luckily for me and my baby, my mom encouraged me to see a lactation consultant who quite literally put an end to every nursing fear or anxiety I had! Call in the pros if you need to. Lactation consultants do amazing work and they’re free to see in hospital.” – Elizabeth, mom to Birdie, 18 months old
Read more: 4 tips to ensure breastfeeding success
“Lanolin cream is great for the first couple weeks and breastfeeding does indeed stop hurting!” – Sara
“Pump more milk in the beginning and freeze it. I was producing so much at the start that it would’ve been easier to freeze it then compared to later on.” – Katie
“Be strong with your doctor about your goals. Hire a lactation consultant for the extra support, expertise, and encouragement, and make sure your husband knows how important nursing is to you.” – Jackie
“Seek support. La Leche groups are free breastfeeding support groups that meet all around the country. They’re chock full of amazingly wise women who can help you through any hurdle. You don’t have to suffer alone if you’re struggling.” – Mary, mom to Jon and Kris, 4 months old
“Shortly after having Jack, I went to Target to try on nursing bras and started leaking milk all over the floor of the dressing room! Remember to always have nursing pads with you.” – Katie
“Don’t stress if you have to pump, use formula, or bottle feed. The important thing is that you are providing for your baby, regardless of how.” – Anna, mom to John, 5 years old and James, 3 years old