August 1 -7 is World Breastfeeding Week. What a wonderful thing to spend a week reflecting on!
Because breastfeeding is something I have become passionate about over the past 2 years, I’ve decided to dedicate the week to 5 all new breastfeeding-related posts. To kick it off, here’s a short look at some breastfeeding struggles we’ve experienced and my top three tips to beat them.
For a more detailed look at our struggles, read Natural Doesn’t Mean Easy.
A short recap of our breastfeeding struggles:
- We didn’t get to initiate our breastfeeding relationship until six hours after V was born.
- V had a posterior tongue-tie that didn’t get diagnosed until 5 weeks in; it took another week to get into the ENT to have it evaluated and clipped.
- My expectations were way off, I didn’t get the “bonded” feeling until after 6 months.
- V was (and is) an avid comfort nurser.
When you really really want to nurse your child, you do as much research as you can. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is just discouraging but sometimes it can save your nursing relationship. I am definitely a researching mama. There are so many tips out there but here I’ve compiled my top tips for dealing with the struggles.
Top tips to beat your breastfeeding struggles
- If it hurts, see a lactation consultant asap. Seriously though, do it now. I kept putting it off and we could have caught it way earlier if I hadn’t been so afraid of going in. Nursing should not hurt. It may take some getting used to but it should not hurt. If your nipples are turning white or look pinched after your LO unlatches, if you are bleeding and in serious pain when your LO latches, that’s not normal and you should be evaluated by a certified lactation consultant to find the root of your issues. For both your baby and your sanity, just call the LC.
- Reach out. Get a mama squad. Create a nursing village. You don’t have to agree with all of your parenting decisions, but finding other women who are/have nursed their babes will provide you with a wealth of knowledge, experience and support. My squad was so helpful in reaffirming that a certain stage of cluster feeding was normal, good for babe and temporary.
- Never make a permanent decision based on today. This was a tip we were given during our natural birthing class and it seriously has changed our lives. You can apply this tip to every facet of your life, but I found it especially applicable to breastfeeding. During those endless nursing sessions before we got her tongue-tie clipped, I would just cry and get so angry and just want to be done. I wanted to give up so badly. But this mantra pushed me through and as soon as she would be done nursing, the anger would recede and I wanted desperately to keep going. Don’t make permanent decisions when you are in the thick of it. That being said, if it’s broke, fix it. If it is consistently not working, see a LC, chat with some mama friends, have a deep conversation with your partner, even engage your LO in some soul searching, you never know what you’ll uncover.
- Bonus (I know I said three but here’s another one I think is so important.) – Just roll with it. Let go of all your expectations and focus on what your babe is telling you he/she needs. I had all these expectations of being able to set V down after peacefully nursing her to sleep so I could catch up on dishes or read a book. Yeah none of that happened. She has pretty much never slept without me. Maybe your nursling is the opposite and barely nurses. Maybe you are just struggling to get your LO to actually nurse. Try to let it go, remember this is just a short season of your life, and follow your babe’s cues.
Did you struggle with breastfeeding? Let’s chat in the comments below or over at my Facebook page. Every breastfeeding journey is so unique and beautiful, I’d love to hear yours!
*photo by yellowFlower photography