I would say this is in the top 5 mothering questions I get. I have a few theories on why... What’s new is scary. Also, what’s perceived as “not normal” is even more scary and for the many reasons it’s true- nursing is no longer seen as normal in lots of communities throughout the US.
My immediate thought is, “Yes it’s easy! No way would I want to get up, measure formula, mix it in a bottle, have to smell it while my baby eats it (yuck!) and then have to try and get the gross stains out from spit up that leave impossible stains!”
But I forget those first few weeks with my now 2 year old. 2 extra days in the hospital because he couldn’t nurse, weeks of nipple shields, dropper feeding and pumps. I forget about engorged breasts and learning how to nurse in public.
Even remembering those issues, I think nursing isn’t hard and I think that is 100% due to my perspective: I have no other option. If I’m ABLE to nurse, that is what I will do and to have problems in your nursing relationship is normal. Not all moms are able. I hate when moms feel guilty they couldn’t nurse. Sad? Sure! A little cheated? Definitely! But Guilt? Did you do everything you knew to do in trying and it still didn’t happen? Then what’s to feel guilty about? Happy, healthy babies also come from bottle feeding mommas :)
To succeed in nursing I think there are three things you need. This may be different for different people but I think it’s pretty basic.
1. A supportive community. This doesn’t have to be your family or even your main friends. Some options are: lactation consultants, Le Leche League, a breastfeeding support group, or WIC. Though it’s of course wonderful if the people in your life are supportive. If they aren’t then maybe it’s time to find a few new friends.
2. Learn how to nurse in public. Who wants to be tied to their house? If you’re terrified to nurse outside of your home or around other people, thoughts of quitting may be close at hand. Find someone who is a breastfeeding ninja and tell her you need help! There are lots of kick butt public nursing women. With my first son I used a nursing cover with a wire in it to see him. He wasn’t an easy nurser for the first few months and it was really helpful to get used to nursing in public. Now I use a scarf or shawl if my shirts aren’t conducive to discreet nursing.
3. Don’t take the problems you have personally. You didn’t decide on how your nipple was shaped, how well your child latches, health problems they might have, or how much milk you produce. If you do everything you know to do, what else is there? At that point, while sad, it’s just food. It’s difficult but how blessed to have a healthy baby with a momma dedicated to them!
Those are the things I’ve learned- I’m sure I’m missing some! What did you find most helpful?