If you feel anxious or worried about breastfeeding, you are not alone. Often women are surprised by the anxiety they feel around breastfeeding. When breastfeeding challenges arise, you might feel worried all the time & maybe have persistent feelings of failure. You might even spend lots of time trying to learn as much as you can, or obsessively charting information about baby’s feeding times, diaper changes etc, in hopes of being able to figure out how to fix things. It’s normal to worry. Feeding your baby is a big responsibility!
“This isn’t what I expected”
…Maybe you did everything right to prepare.
…Maybe you were scared, anxious or hesitant even before you tried breastfeeding.
…Maybe you felt confident that things would go well.
…Maybe it was just different than how you had imagined…harder, more demanding, more stressful etc.
We don’t often talk about the stresses and anxieties that women feel when breastfeeding.
Give yourself a break
Below is a list of “breastfeeding permission statements”. Circle the statements that help you feel more peaceful and confident. Post them somewhere & ask family or friends to remind you to be kind to yourself
It’s ok to …
…not feel like it is a bonding experience, especially in the early days.
…not like it or to love it, even in the same feeding
…feel like a chore sometimes
…use one technique then change your mind
…not know what to do to make it better, but to keep going and keep feeding
…refuse to take advice from people who are judging me
…figure things out as I go
…not know what will “fix things”, but to love myself and my baby anyway as we learn
…see myself as a good mother for trying things even if they seem not to work
…try things that just seem to make sense for me and my baby, even if they seem unconventional
…do things differently from my mother
…do a little or a lot
…give it time – allow yourself & baby time to learn
…Talk to other mothers who won’t judge you
“Ask for help and seek support – this doesn’t make you a failure. I think some mothers see themselves as a failure if things are not working out and if they need help. They might think it’s natural and should just happen. Challenges are common. Mothers may think this is only happening to them.” Anita Arora, Lactation Consultant at the WOMB, Milton.
Take it one feed at a time!
Taking things one feed at a time means….
…You do your best with feeding at any given time, regardless of how you feed your baby. Your feeding might be influenced by, your energy levels, whether it is day or night, whether your partner is available to help, your baby’s mood/hunger levels, etc.
…You allow yourself to rest between feeds. Sometimes this means napping or watching TV. Sometimes it means just allowing your mind to relax and not pressuring yourself to figure out how the next feed will go. If your mind is really busy, and you can’t let go try some simple recorded meditations, going for a walk or talking to someone who can help you unwind.
…During this feeding, allow yourself to latch and unlatch baby as needed, and give yourself lots of time to figure out how to make this feed work, even if it’s frustrating for you or baby. It’s ok to keep trying! Its even okay to make changes while the baby is latched to make yourself or baby more comfortable.
…During this feeding, allow your shoulders to relax, set up pillows, a foot rest , a glass of water etc. Make it as comfortable and supportive as possible. Breathe and do your best.
Get lots of support and connect with other moms. Join our authentic community of Emerging Mothers. Connect with local breastfeeding resources in Halton/Peel. If you have tried everything, and you find you are still anxious, book a time for New Mom Coaching to increase confidence and ease. Together we will explore ways to enjoy motherhood, and bond with your baby even when things are challenging!
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…conflicting advice ..constantly second guessing myself because baby seems unhappy …. Not doing it how experts said ….. trying to do the technique exactly right, but it’s not working…It’s my fault it’s not going well. …I should try harder ….Other mothers are doing it better ….Why isn’t it instinctual, it should be easier…Is baby feeding for too long or not long enough? “