For the first several months of breastfeeding, I felt like a cow, and it had nothing to do with my post-pregnancy body. If I wasn’t breastfeeding, I was pumping. I didn’t realize how often babies need to eat, nor how long each feeding session would take. And at family parties, I was either draped with a shawl cover or locked away in a bedroom nursing my baby. I was a milking machine and needed to motivate myself to breastfeed.
When I was pregnant, I had planned to breastfeed my baby. I heard about its benefits, wanted to save some serious cash, and hey, it’s nature so how hard could it be? For me, very:
- Physically, breastfeeding hurt. You would think something natural would happen smoothly. But nothing beats the plugged ducts, engorged breasts and bloody cuts I endured.
- Emotionally, I felt drained. I felt burdened with a responsibility I couldn’t pass off to anyone else. And waking up to feed, every hour and a half to two, was no joke.
- Long-touted as convenient, breastfeeding also had its own nuances for me. Since boobs don’t exactly know when to turn off, I had to wear these nursing pads to soak up any “leakage.” If not the pads, then I was wearing these ridiculous plastic breast shields. I had to bypass some fun and travel, for instance.
But somehow I did it. My goal was to breastfeed for a year, and I’m the last person who would have believed I would do it.
For someone who wanted to quit every day the first few weeks, I relied on the following motivational tips and tricks to keep me going.
Below are 9 tips on staying motivated to breastfeed:
1. Remind yourself about the benefits of breastfeeding
Just when I was ready to call it quits, I would log online and read the benefits of breastfeeding:
- better immunity
- brain development
- a healthy source of nutrients
- more variety in taste (to potentially avoid picky-eating in the future)
Every choice we make has pros and cons, and when the cons seemed to loom over me, I fought back by reminding myself about the pros.
2. Use a double pump
Seriously. Forget manual, forget single electric. You already have zero time for yourself. The last thing you need is doubling your breastfeeding time because of a single pump. When I breastfed my twins, I ditched the single pump and went forthe hospital-grade double. Nothing worse than sitting in a room knowing you could’ve been outta there in 15 minutes instead of 30.
3. Set goals, even daily goals
When I wanted to quit, I challenged myself and said, “Okay, just get through this one day, and we’ll take it from there.” When that day came and went, I upped my goal: “Okay, now let’s see if you can handle two more days.”
This mental trickery kept going until I was setting monthly goals (“Let’s get to six months at least”). Eventually I reached a point where I didn’t need to set goals any longer.
4. Find a comfortable way to nurse
Don’t bypass the need for a nursing pillow. I relied on that sucker to rest and even free my arms while the baby was nursing.
Besides a nursing pillow, I tried different positions to see which one felt most comfortable for that moment. This Boppy was the one I used for my singleton, and the My Brest Friend Twin Deluxe was crucial to breastfeeding my twins.
5. Rely on dad’s support
You’re 100% responsible for your baby’s food intake. In exchange, your partner can handle other chores while you feed your baby. My husband made pretty impressive breakfasts, not to mention handling most of the chores and diaper duty.
6. Find support in other women who breastfed
My sisters and cousins breastfed, so I felt comfortable calling them up for support, ideas, or just a good rant about how hard this was. Knowing they breastfed despite similar difficulties gave me the gusto to keep trying.
7. Realize that breastfeeding gets easier
I was in a ton of pain in the beginning, but eventually, my boobs adjusted and the pain subsided after a few weeks. It really does get easier. Especially once you’ve mastered the right way for your baby to latch and your breasts have acclimated to nursing.
8. Tell yourself that you can always quit
I told myself that if breastfeeding got so difficult that my misery outweighed the benefits I sought, then I quit. I didn’t want to set myself up as a holier-than-thou, breastfeeding martyr if it meant my well-being. Giving myself an ‘out’ helped make the situation seem not so dire or permanent.
Quitting breastfeeding isn’t a sign of failure or that I wasn’t a good mom. It was just the time for me to stop. We all quit breastfeeding—each of us just chooses when that time will be.
9. Talk to your doctor
For several weeks, I experienced an intense, tingling pain, particularly on one nipple, and was so ready to quit. I brushed the pain aside thinking it must be a normal association with breastfeeding. It wasn’t—I had thrush and needed antibiotics to clear it up.
Lesson learned: If you’re in pain, like the kind that makes you want to curl up in a ball and stay in bed, talk to your doctor. You might have complications you can lessen with medicine or lactation advice.
Breastfeeding can be tough, no doubt. I couldn’t believe how challenging something I assumed would be easy actually wasn’t. But it’s doable. From someone who was ready to give up every day, take it from me that you can work this breastfeeding thing. Give it a few more tries before making a decision, and read these 9 reminders to keep you motivated.
You’ll be so glad you did.
Want to stay motivated to breastfeed? Check out these posts:
- Do You Feel Guilty for Not Breastfeeding? Don’t.
- 6 Ways Dads Can Support Breastfeeding Moms [FREE Download]
- What Every Mom Needs to Know about Pumping at Work
- 12 Breastfeeding Secrets Every Mom Should Know
Your turn: What are some of the challenges of staying motivated to breastfeed? Let me know in the comments!
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