I got 99 problems and breastfeeding is the reason for 98 of them.
Before I begin, let me say, I am a firm believer that fed is best. Whether it be by exclusively breastfeeding, formula, exclusively pumping, or a mix of whatever works for you – that’s what I believe in.
Breastfeeding problems are no stranger to me. During my breastfeeding journey with my first born (read the story here), we struggled more than we didn’t. I felt incredibly guilty for every problem we suffered through, believing that it was all my fault. It contributed to my post-partum depression and anxiety. Breastfeeding was honestly one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.
So if you’re struggling today, or you fear that you’ll struggle with breastfeeding when the time comes, I hope one of these ten thoughts help you find your way through the minefield of breastfeeding.
10 Thoughts of Encouragement if You’re Struggling with Breastfeeding
1. It’s your choice.
If you choose to breastfeed, that is your choice. If you choose to pump and feed your baby breastmilk, that is your choice. If you choose to give your baby some breastmilk and some formula, that is your choice. If you choose to give your baby formula, that is your choice. Whatever your choice, you are doing what is best for your baby and that’s all that matters.
2. Some days will be harder than others.
There were some days where I rejoiced: “This is it! It’s working! I love breastfeeding!”…and then others where I would cry in the bathroom and yell at my chest. (Really though.)
3. Don’t listen to those who don’t understand.
I can’t even tell you the number of times where I’ve had a mom say in so many words, “You need to breastfeed because anything else is horrible for your baby.” No. For one, as long as you are feeding your baby, then you are doing what’s best for your baby. Two, your situation is just that. YOURS. It’s no one else’s place to judge you, and if they do, they don’t need to be a part of your experience.
4. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing.
I’m serious! Even if you give your baby one drop of breastmilk, that’s an achievement! Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
5. Lactation consultants are incredibly helpful.
I would never have made it through breastfeeding without the help of a lactation consultant. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, the best piece of advice I can give you is to find a lactation consultant asap.
6. But, you don’t have to stick with just one (lactation consultant).
I met with 3 lactation consultants before I found Michelle. Michelle and I instantly clicked and I trusted her with all of our breastfeeding endeavors after that. Not all lactation consultants are the one for you, so don’t settle. Find the one that you want to help you through your journey. You may be with them for a year at least, so again, don’t settle.
7. Don’t compare your experience to that of others.
I haven’t met one woman yet that has had the exact experience that I have with breastfeeding. Similar, yes. Exact, no. It can be helpful to swap stories and advice but don’t get so upset that it isn’t going how it went with her/her baby. Your experience is special to you and your baby. It wouldn’t be as special if everyone had the same experience.
8. Don’t beat yourself up.
Breastfeeding is hard. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I beat myself up every day that it didn’t “work”. I blamed myself when Lilli wouldn’t latch. I cried when my milk supply dropped. I got angry at myself when we found out Lilli had a dairy allergy. But please listen to me when I say that it is not your fault, it is not your baby’s fault, it is no one’s fault. Do not beat yourself up over it.
9. Don’t set expectations.
Goals, yes, if that’s your thing. Expectations, no. If you don’t set expectations, then you won’t get your hopes up to just have them beat back down by a bad day. I would go into my day saying, “If we have a good breastfeeding day, then that’s great! If not, we will try again tomorrow.”
10. This too shall pass.
That bad day (or week or month or year) will pass. Now that our breastfeeding journey has come to an end (Lilli breastfed until she was 15 months old, can you believe that after all we struggled with?!), I can honestly look back and feel at peace. Lilli’s almost two years old, and while breastfeeding was a huge part of our lives when she was younger, it was just another phase of life. Take it from me – do what is best for you, your baby, and your family. Do not blame yourself or let breastfeeding cause more issues than it should. One day, your kid will eat that five-day-old french fry off the car floor and all of a sudden, breastfeeding won’t seem like such a big deal after all.