I remember my best friend (@valshaf) walking into my apartment when I was three weeks postpartum wearing an off-the-shoulder shirt and I was absolutely shook. How can someone wear a shirt that doesn’t have a v-neck or easy access to feed a child? How can someone wear something that doesn’t require industrial bra straps? I walked into my OB’s office a few days later to see their lactation consultant. They’re located on the Upper East Side, and by the time I got there, I was drenched in sweat and my bra pads had soaked through. Life as I knew it was O-V-E-R.
I thought to myself, welp, this is it. I am never going to wear another strapless shirt again. I am never going to be able to look cute. I am never going to live again because breastfeeding my baby is SO FREAKING HARD and the only thing I can think about is how to get rid of this pain. Everyone kept saying “it’s supposed to hurt at first, it will get better.”
Nope. Wrong Answer. It is not supposed to hurt at first and you know your body! Motherhood is a learning experience in quieting the noise and trusting your instinct. Breastfeeding your baby is not always natural or easy, and it really takes hard work. So, friends, here I am on the other side, still nursing my baby at 8 months. Here are some things I wish someone, anyone had told me when I was first starting out:
The experience you have the first month or two is wildly different from the experience you have as your baby grows. Even month 3 is different from month 6 is different from month 9. Do not assume that you know what breastfeeding is like after 1 week or even 1 month. It changes
It DOES get easier, but not without some effort from you. Get a lactation consultant. A good one. Really spend some time ensuring that your baby has a deep latch and is draining the breast at every feeding. Again, just because women have been doing it forever does not mean that you and your baby have been doing this forever. You have never done this! It’s okay to be clueless. It’s okay to need help. Ask for whatever you need.
Google is not your friend, but a solid book like The Nursing Mother’s Companion will be. I had this book open on my table and constantly referenced it, especially because I had mastitis, thrush, a baby with a possible tongue-tie (more on this later), and everything else. So, buy a book, call your LC, and stop googling. Whatever answer you want is what you will find on the internet.
And finally, remember that fed is best. The amount of pressure inflicted on women to breastfeed is INSANE, and very often, we do it to ourselves. I found that by releasing the grip and reminding myself that NO MATTER WHAT, I would walk out of this situation with a happy, healthy baby, only made it easier for me to succeed at breastfeeding. @amyschumer recently posted about this self-inflicted guilt, and it really resonated with me. Do what works best for your family, and remember, you and your baby are doing great.