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.
9 tips for breastfeeding motivation
My goal was to breastfeed for a year, and I’m the last person who would have believed I could do it. But somehow I did it.
Through daily breastfeeding motivation, I was able to stick to my goal for an entire year. Thankfully, it got easier as the year went on, but I ran into plenty of challenges that tempted me to quit. Because sometimes all we need is the encouragement to keep going.
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
Every night, I was ready to quit breastfeeding. But instead, I’d push myself to turn on the laptop, search for the benefits of breastfeeding… and read. It was enough to stay the course, to remind myself that I was doing this for far more important reasons, like:
- better immunity
- brain development
- a healthy source of nutrients
- giving my baby more variety in taste (to potentially avoid picky-eating in the future)
- time to bond
Every choice we make has pros and cons. When the cons seemed to loom over you, stay on course by reminding yourself 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.
Sadly, I opted for a simple single pump with my first. I was too stubborn to upgrade to a double, and instead stuck with it for the entire year. I doubled every pumping session because of this oversight. Nothing worse than sitting in a room knowing you could’ve been done in 15 minutes instead of 30.
When I breastfed my twins, I ditched the single pump and went for the hospital-grade double pump.
3. Set goals, even daily goals
When you feel like quitting, challenge yourself with: Okay, just get through this one day, and we’ll take it from there. Forget the one-week goal, much less the one-year mark—try to get through that one day. After that, you can quit if you’d like, but try to make it through that one day.
At some point, that day will come and go, and you’ll have realized you were able to get through it after all. This will give you the confidence then to increase your goal. Perhaps you’ll tell yourself: Okay, now let’s see if you can handle TWO days.
I continued this daily- and micro-goal setting until I was setting monthly goals (Let’s get to six months at least). A few months into this habit, I didn’t need to set goals any longer.
4. Find a comfortable way to nurse
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I had overlooked the importance of a nursing pillow with my eldest. So much so that I relied on regular pillows to try to nurse my baby. As you can imagine, this added yet another challenge to my breastfeeding goals.
Once I finally bought one, I couldn’t imagine how I ever did without it. This Boppy was the one I used for my singleton, and the My Brest Friend Twin Deluxe for my twins. A comfortable nursing position can make or break your breastfeeding motivation.
Besides a nursing pillow, try different positions to see which feels most comfortable. Try nursing your baby lying down, in a football hold, or cradling him in your arms. You can also establish certain breastfeeding nooks around the house, from the corner couch to your bed to the rocking chair.
The more comfortably you can nurse, the more likely you’ll find the breastfeeding motivation to keep going.
5. Rely on your partner’s support
Being 100% responsible for your baby’s food intake can add to the pressure of breastfeeding. After all, any time the baby is hungry—which, let’s face it, can be often—you’re the only person who can provide him what he needs.
That said, your partner can handle other household chores in exchange. For instance, he can make breakfast, change diapers, or clean the house. The more he can do in exchange for the time you’re glued to the baby, the more you can focus on nursing without the stress.
6. Find support in other mothers who breastfed
Breastfeeding can be one of the loneliest activities in motherhood, both physically… and mentally.
When you feel like giving up, reach out to other mothers who breastfed. This might be your sisters or cousins you can call on for support or tips. An online breastfeeding group for a good rant.
You might even join a breastfeeding support group in real life like La Leche League or The Pump Station. Knowing others have breastfed and likely went through what you’re going through can give you the gusto to keep trying.
7. Remember that breastfeeding gets easier
Talk to breastfeeding moms and many will tell you that it gets easier. Sure, you might run into complications months down the line, but usually, the hard part is right in the beginning.
Your nipples “harden up” and get used to the baby’s sucking, or you and the baby learn to latch correctly. Maybe your baby stops feeding so frequently, or you’ve found the right positions and holds to make breastfeeding easier.
I was in a ton of pain in the beginning, but later, my breasts adjusted and the pain subsided after about a month. Getting through the first few weeks can be the hardest challenge you’ll face, but once you’re done, it’s only uphill from there.
8. Tell yourself you can always quit
That’s right: Tell yourself you can always quit.
This can feel like sacrilege to advise, but I told myself I’d quit if breastfeeding got so difficult that my misery outweighed the benefits. I didn’t want to set myself up as a breastfeeding martyr if it meant my well-being.
Giving yourself an “out” can make the situation seem not so dire or permanent. You’re not “stuck”—you always have a choice.
Quitting breastfeeding isn’t a parenting failure or a sign that you’re not a good mom. It could just be the time to stop. After all, we all quit breastfeeding—each of us chooses when that time will be.
With that freedom in mind, you’d be surprised how much more willing you’ll be to keep going. Knowing you have that power to choose to quit any time you want can be the breastfeeding motivation you need to give it one more try.
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. You might have complications you can lessen with medicine or lactation advice.
Even if the pain isn’t as severe—or you struggle with your mental health and emotions—talking to your doctor is still a good choice. She can point you to resources you might otherwise not know about, or give you tips to make breastfeeding easier.
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 and, after a while, even enjoyable.
Remind yourself of the benefits of breastfeeding—keeping this top of mind can be all you need to persist. Set goals, even daily goals, to keep momentum up. A double pump and a comfortable nursing station can make breastfeeding much easier.
Find support in others, from your partner to assume household and childcare tasks, to other breastfeeding moms to talk to. Remind yourself that breastfeeding gets easier, so that whatever hardship you feel now is temporary.
And that, at the end of the day, you have the choice to quit any time—feeling “unstuck” can often be the trick to keep you going. And finally, talk to your doctor so she can better diagnose potential complications or, at the least, point you to resources and tips.
From someone who was ready to give up every day, take it from me that you can absolutely breastfeed—without always feeling like a cow.
Check out these articles for more breastfeeding motivation:
- 5 Tips to Stop the Pain After Breastfeeding
- When Does Breastfeeding Finally Stop Hurting?
- What to Do When Your Baby Wants to Breastfeed Constantly
- Burping a Newborn After Breastfeeding: Necessary or Not?
- 12 Breastfeeding Secrets Every Mom Should Know
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