Breastfeeding can take you by surprise or even discourage you from continuing. Here are 9 tips to keep in mind for breastfeeding motivation. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission—at no extra cost to you—if you make a purchase.
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 heard about the benefits of breastfeeding and was excited to get started. I figured it’d be no problem—it’s nature, so how hard could it be, right?
For many moms, very:
- Physically, breastfeeding can hurt. You would think something natural would happen smoothly. Instead, you might experience the plugged ducts, engorged breasts, bloody cuts, and low supply that are so common during the first few weeks of nursing.
- Emotionally, you might feel drained, burdened with a responsibility you can’t pass off to anyone else. And waking up to feed every hour or two is no joke.
- As convenient as it might be, breastfeeding can also have its own nuances. Since breasts don’t exactly know when to turn off, you might have to wear nursing pads like these or plastic breast shields to soak up any leakage. You might even have to bypass some fun and travel that aren’t conducive to breastfeeding or pumping.
9 reminders 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 keeping the following tips below in mind, I reached that goal.
Breastfeeding got easier as the year went on, but I ran into plenty of challenges that tempted me to quit, especially in the beginning. Through daily breastfeeding motivation, I was able to stick to my goal—because sometimes all we need is the encouragement to keep going.
For someone who wanted to quit every day, I relied on the following positive thoughts to keep going:
1. Remind yourself about the benefits of breastfeeding
Every night during those first few weeks, you might be ready to quit breastfeeding. One simple trick? Push yourself to go online and search for the benefits of breastfeeding. This simple action can be enough to stay the course, to remind yourself that you’re doing this for important reasons, like:
- better immunity
- brain development
- a healthy source of nutrients
- giving your baby more variety in taste (to potentially avoid picky-eating in the future)
- cost-effective alternative to formula
- time to bond and build attachment
Every choice we make has pros and cons. When the cons seemed to loom over you, stay on course by reminding yourself of the pros.
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“I just wanted to say thank you so much for your positive emails and reminders. I love reading them. I’m a first time mum, my baby is two months old and it’s been so hard. Your reminders are like a positive ray through it all. I thought nothing could make me feel better but your words encouraged me to take a step back and really consciously TRY. Today was a better day. Thank you.” -Ayat Baraka
2. Use a double pump
Seriously. Forget manual or single electric. You already have zero time for yourself—the last thing you need is doubling your breastfeeding time because of a manual or single pump.
Sadly, I opted for a simple single electric 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. There’s 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 this mantra: 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 make it at least through that one day.
More than likely, that day will come and go, and you’ll have realized you were able to get through it after all. This will then give you the confidence 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 hitting monthly achievements (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
I had overlooked the importance of a nursing pillow with my eldest, that I relied on regular pillows to try to nurse. 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. I used this Boppy 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, like the corner couch, your bed, or the rocking chair.
The more comfortably you can nurse, the more likely you’ll find the breastfeeding motivation to keep going.
Take a look at these essential breastfeeding supplies.
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, when she wants to breastfeed constantly, you’re the only person who can provide her what she needs.
A simple solution? Have your partner handle other household chores in exchange. For instance, he can make breakfast, change diapers, clean the house, or burp the baby. 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.
Get more tips on how dads can support breastfeeding moms.
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 moms who breastfed. This might be your sisters, friends, or cousins you can call on for support or tips, or an online breastfeeding group for a good rant.
You might even join a breastfeeding support group in person 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 he 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 body 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.
When does breastfeeding get easier?
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 sacrificing 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 always have that choice to choose to quit any time you want can be the breastfeeding motivation you need to give it one more try.
Learn the importance of being kind to yourself.
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—it turned out, 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, or pain that won’t go away on its own.
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.
At the end of the day, you always 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.
Get more tips:
- 5 Tips to Stop the Pain After Breastfeeding
- Burping a Newborn After Breastfeeding: Necessary or Not?
- How to Stop Comfort Nursing at Night
- 12 Breastfeeding Secrets Every Mom Should Know
- How to Burp a Sleeping Baby
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This post really hits home with me. The emotional and physical drain was way more than I ever expected. We had poor latch in the beginning and it HURT. I was sore for the entire first month. But, like you, I somehow made it through and I’m SO GLAD that I did. The lifetime benefits for both myself and my child FAR outweigh the burden. I made it to 20 months before I was about to implode, then I knew it was time to end the nursing relationship. I always encourage moms to go as long as possible, as every day you can keep it going helps in so many ways.
Nina Garcia says
Thanks, Tara! I’m glad the post resonated with you.
I breastfeed at present and am in two minds of wether or not to stop.
(My LO is 5 months) My biggest problem is my mother breastfed for a year with myself and each of my siblings, and my mother-in-law didnt at all, and I constantly find myself being pressured by both to either keep going or stop, I don’t really have anyone else to talk with as my sister also formula feeds her LO. I feel as tho I’m failing and giving up too early if I stop at 6 months, but I have an issue with over production on my right side and the constant washing of 3 nursing bras, nursing tops and spillages with irritating plastic breast sheilds I just don’t know where to turn
Nina Garcia says
Hi Bonita, first off, HUGS! That is a lot of pressure on you for a tough decision. First things first, this is completely your decision and no one else’s. Don’t feel like you need to make a decision based on someone’s opinion (because from the looks of it, at least one person won’t like it no matter which way you go!).
If you feel like you can go a little bit more, tell yourself just one day more. See how that feels. If you were able to do it, then see if you can do it for another day, or even two more days, before considering quitting. Sometimes we see this looming goal of one year or whatever your goal may be and it seems impossible and endless. But if you break it down day by day, it seems less daunting. I remember feeling dejected at six months thinking, “I’m only halfway through this?! You mean I have to do everything I just went through again?” lol
The nice thing was, after that halfway point, I stopped tracking the milestones and breastfeeding became easier. Your baby will eat less frequently, so there’ll be less nursing sessions and nursing bras. Also see if you can get nursing pads instead of the shields to absorb leakages.
That said, I also think moms need to do what we need to do. With my twins, I had no hesitation to supplement with formula because it meant they could gain weight. Sometimes we have to be flexible and not be so bent on our original goals if it means saving our sanity. If you feel like not breastfeeding is the right decision, embrace it! There is no shame in quitting. We all quit, just at different times. You’re not a worse mom because you breastfed for 5 months compared to the one who breastfed for 6.
And I’ll admit, the day I put that pump away and stopped breastfeeding was awesome. I know some moms are nostalgic, and I felt a little of that. But for the most part, I had more time for myself and didn’t miss it as much.
To sum, give breastfeeding your best shot by breaking down your goals day by day. And if it’s truly difficult, a happy mama is more important than an unhappy, breastfeeding mama 🙂