3 Breastfeeding Strategies for Success desc

3 Breastfeeding Strategies for Success

My plan was to breastfeed for a year. Just a year, no big deal.

But shortly after I started, I realized it was much harder than I thought. The whole experience felt like parts of me were constantly being taken away - my wardrobe, my freedom, my identity. I felt like I always had to leave the room. I felt tied to the baby. I felt fully responsible for something I didn't have control over. I had doubt, fear, and overwhelm. "Just switch to formula." people told me. "Let Dad help."

I love and hate advice, especially as a new mom. I love advice when someone understands what the problem is, even if I am not articulating the real problem. I don't like advice when it dismisses my actual problem. 

Breastfeeding the first time brings up fear, self-doubt, and self-criticism. Maybe you feel obligated to breastfeed. Maybe you want to but you're scared. Maybe none of these things are happening for you. I decided to give breastfeeding a try, give it my best, and if I didn't meet my original intention to nurse for a year, so be it. 

For me, I wish someone would have told me about the emotional commitment when you decide to breastfeed. My second baby was much easier than my first because I wasn't so anxious about it working or not. I also had practice. I'm not sure why we think we should be perfect at breastfeeding as soon as the baby comes out, just because we have boobs. Breastfeeding takes a lot of practice!

So go easy on yourself, mama!

Despite a rough start, I wanted to keep trying and get through the challenges - breastfeeding was important to me, and if it's important to you, there are ways to do it without counting down the days, and without feeling like less than yourself. The key is that the breastfeeding experience is as much about YOU as it is about your baby.

Here are 3 strategies that will give you the freedom and confidence you deserve while breastfeeding:

1 - Wardrobe

2 - Practice AS IF

3 - Let go of expectations

Strategy 1: Wardrobe

Why do we think it's ok to wear our husband's oversized shirts during the most precious, magical, amazing time of our lives? Why do we think we should "get by" with an old dress from H&M that's falling apart because it was $18 and is 7 years old, but we don't know how long we're going to breastfeed so we absolutely refuse to buy anything new?? Why do we feel guilty spending money on things that help us take care of ourselves after we have the baby, when we need the most caring for?

For breastfeeding, you need a wardrobe that is both functional and that fits your style. Are you a working or stay-at-home mom, do you prefer to wear jeans and tees or dresses? Will you be primarily pumping, or taking the baby out a lot? There are many options today for stylish breastfeeding clothes. Be intentional about a breastfeeding wardrobe and be willing to invest in it - just like you did for your maternity clothing, preparing the nursery, and everything else we get ready for baby.

For two staples that will get you through all of breastfeeding, try the Zippered Nursing Tank and Portable Nursing Poncho.

Strategy 2: Practice AS IF

Don't let the first time you breastfeed in public be your first time! Practice at home AS IF you are out - wear the clothes or use the cover you'll have out in public, and pretend there are people around. We practice for many first-time occasions - we can practice nursing in public too!

Strategy 3: Let go of expectations

The ability to want what's best for our baby, while also being able to let go, is the real test for any mama. This is where you begin to transform as a mom and as a person. You learn to let go, and shift with whatever comes - this is freedom.

Maybe you had a plan to breastfeed for a year. Maybe you vowed to never use formula. Maybe you don't want to introduce a bottle or a pacifier. Moms are bombarded with information, and with good intentions, we read and research, talk and plan.

There are no failures in breastfeeding, or in mothering. There might be adjustments, changes, evolution, growth - but you are always exactly where you are meant to be. Everyday feeding and taking care of your baby is a miracle, and it should be celebrated, regardless of what you thought it would look like. Be proud of yourself today. You will learn a lot over time, but you already are a great mother.