8 tips to survive breastfeeding

by Trista, Happily Trista Blog | August 8, 2019

8 tips to survive breastfeeding

As a first-time mom I had no idea what breastfeeding entails. I didn’t take a class. I bought a nursing tank, a nursing bra, and a nursing cover. Boom. I was prepared. I was going to survive breastfeeding.

I was even offended when several mom friends suggested I have a thing of formula at home just in case I needed it. Just in case? Just in case I changed my mind? Just in case I didn’t like nursing my baby? It never crossed my mind that breastfeeding may not be all unicorns and rainbows.

Another thing that surprised me? How HARD breastfeeding can be. It is exhausting. It felt complicated holding a baby with one hand and trying to force a boob into their mouth with the other. Don’t worry, the first few times you try it, someone (a nurse or lactation consultant) will probably be using their hand to force your boob into your baby’s mouth.

I wasn’t prepared! Don’t be like me. I want you to survive breastfeeding. I want you to know what to expect and I want you to give yourself grace. All things I wish I would have done the first time around.

1. Take a class.
With Blaire, I didn’t take a class because everything I had heard about breastfeeding used the words “easy” and “natural”. It truly never crossed my mind I might not know how to hold my baby or how to get her to latch. Before Ben was born, I took a class through the hospital where I would deliver him. It was taught by the lactation consultants I would see in the hospital when he was born. It’s nice to have met someone at least once before they waltz into your room when you’re 30 minutes postpartum and topless. It was also very helpful to learn about breastfeeding while I wasn’t freshly postpartum and holding a crying newborn. The instructors also did a great job at helping to set the expectations I didn’t have as a first time mom. How much time I would probably spend nursing my baby, how much baby would eat and how often they would eat, etc.

2. Talk to friends who have breastfed.
Talking to friends who have been there will help you to set your own expectations. Obviously everyone’s experience with breastfeeding is different, so talking to more than one person is important. For me, one of the hardest things was the stress of my boobs running my life. I had just spent the past 39 weeks sharing my body with a human and was counting down the days until my body was my own again. I couldn’t wait to go more than an hour without having to pee. Well instead of getting up overnight to pee, I was getting up overnight to pump, even when my baby was asleep.

I didn’t give any forethought to whether I’d be comfortable nursing in public (with or without a cover). I didn’t think about the logistics of clothes that would allow me to easily nurse. I didn’t know I would be STARVING all day every night those first few weeks. These are all things your friends can talk you through. In this blog post, you can find some of my favorite items that helped me to survive breastfeeding.

3. Take time to yourself.
As a first time mom I obviously had no idea what to expect after Blaire was born. I thought having constant visitors in the hospital and at home was just how it went. Well, let me tell you, having family and friends drop off food, diapers or coffee? Amazing! Having family and friends come over to sit around for hours to talk and hang out? Exhausting.

When you’re nursing or pumping, you might be attached to your baby for 90% of your day that first month. Maybe you’re comfortable nursing in front of your visitors, if so, that’s great! Maybe you want the company and enjoy it.

But for me, that wasn’t the case. Instead of being able to sit comfortably on my couch with my husband, feeding my baby, I was in a bedroom with her or attached to my pump while our visitors hung out in the living room with Jason, and Blaire, if I was pumping. Don’t feel guilty asking for space for your family. You, your partner and your baby are all learning this together, as you go. You should have the freedom to sit topless on your couch eating snacks and watching TV.

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