Breastfeeding can take you by surprise and even discourage you from continuing. Here are 9 tips to keep in mind for breastfeeding motivation.
For the first 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, or how long each feeding session would take.
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 often wanted to give up.
When I was pregnant, I had planned to breastfeed my baby. I heard about its benefits and wanted to save some serious cash. And hey, it’s nature so how hard could it be, right?
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.
- 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 plastic breast shields. I also had to bypass some fun and travel that weren’t conducive to breastfeeding or pumping.
Breastfeeding motivation: Top 9 tips
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But somehow I did it. My goal was to breastfeed for a year, and I’m the last person who would have believed I could do it. For someone who wanted to quit every day, I relied on the following tips to keep me going.
#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. 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 for the hospital-grade double. Nothing worse than sitting in a room knowing you could’ve been done in 15 minutes instead of 30.
#3 Set goals, even daily goals
When I wanted to quit, I challenged myself: Okay, just get through this one day, and we’ll take it from there, I told myself. When that day came and went, I upped my goal: “Okay, now let’s see if you can handle two more days.”
This kept going until I was setting monthly goals (Let’s get to six months at least). After several months, 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.
#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 breakfast and handled 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 for support or a good rant. 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 later, my boobs adjusted and the pain subsided after a few weeks. It does get easier, especially once you’ve learned how to latch and your breasts have adjusted to nursing.
#8 Tell yourself you can always quit
I told myself if breastfeeding got difficult that my misery outweighed the benefits, then I’d quit. I didn’t want to set myself up as a 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 parenting failure or a sign 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 weeks, I experienced an intense, tingling pain with breastfeeding and was 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. It may not be normal breastfeeding discomfort and 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.
Even if you feel like a cow sometimes.
Check out these articles for more breastfeeding motivation:
- 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 you ran into with breastfeeding? Let me know in the comments!
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