So you just had a baby? You’re trying your best to navigate your way through this (maybe new!) world of parenthood while your postpartum hormones are raging and the sleep deprivation has hit you like a freight train.
You are totally responsible for an actual human being and, on top of all this, you have to figure out how to breastfeed. Regardless of how much work you did to plan for your little bundle of joy, there are many aspects of breastfeeding that are hard to mentally prepare for. We know how hard this transition can be and we want to help you navigate these challenges with the best information to help you succeed.
Many mothers will tell you that breastfeeding is so much more than just feeding your child. It becomes an emotional act that feels like an actual pouring of yourself in every aspect – mentally, physically and emotionally. Here are some ways that breastfeeding becomes just as much of a mental struggle as it can be a physical one.
This is especially true the first few months. Newborns typically eat 10 to 12 times a day, which means you are nursing around the clock. Even after you’re past the newborn stage and the baby is sleeping for longer periods of time, it’s likely that you’ll still have to wake every few hours because of engorged or leaking breasts.
Pumping can help to relieve engorgement and give your girls a break if you are experiencing soreness. Pumping also allows another parent or loved one the opportunity to feed baby (while giving you a wink of rest).
You Will Obsess about Your Supply
Baby is spitting up? You’ll blame it on your oversupply. Baby hasn’t produced many wet diapers today? You’ll blame it on your low supply. Regardless of the ailment or hurdle, your brain will find a way to connect the problem to your supply.
Be kind to yourself, mama. This is a journey, and there will be bumps along the road. Sometimes the bumpy roads are the ones we remember most. But, if you have a lasting concern, remember to always contact your OB or pediatrician to put your mind at ease.
You’ll Worry about Your Stash
With all that concern over your supply, you’ll guard your freezer stash like a lioness protects her cubs. You’ll measure and keep track of the ounces you pump and count the storage bags you freeze even closer than you watch your monthly budget. It’s a lot of work to make that magic milk, so don’t feel bad about feeling territorial if it gets used.
It Isn’t Always Instinctive
Theoretically, the process of breastfeeding doesn’t sound all that difficult. Baby is hungry, baby has a mouth and you certainly have a breast. Simple right? Wrong.
Yes, babies are born with the instinct to suck. However, that doesn’t guarantee that they know how to suck efficiently enough to gain weight or in a way that isn’t painful. Maybe they were also born with a tongue or lip tie that further complicates latching and suckling. Never hesitate to seek professional help. Lactation consultants are full of knowledge and tips to help you diagnose and overcome any issues you might encounter.
You Will Always Feel Like You’re Racing against the Clock
After the first few months, you and your baby will start to get the hang of things. You’ll be able to establish a more solid routine and won’t feel quite like you’re nursing 24/7. However, you will constantly hear the ticking of the clock in your head as you race to get things done between nursing sessions. Baby is fed? Great, you’ve got two hours to get dressed and grocery shop. And go!
We know this is hard, mama but we’re here to help – along with millions of moms who are ready to hold your hand, lend support and offer a word of advice. See our other blog posts for more advice and, if you are still awaiting your breastfeeding journey(!), be sure to see if you qualify for an insurance-covered breast pump.
If you feel like breastfeeding messes with your mind – it does! A baby suckling literally creates new pathways in your brain and releases large amounts of oxytocin. This chemical process reinforces maternal behavior and helps your responsiveness to your baby as well. It’s one of the most powerful and fundamental ways that you will change as a new mother.