1. Find your tribe
First things first, find your tribe. One of the first times I went to Milk Mama’s (a local breastfeeding support group) I was asked if I had any family or friends here that can be of support during my breastfeeding journey? Through the stream of tears, I shook my head no. While we had my sister-in-law and a few friends from church, I did not have that hands on support that I needed with this journey. My ‘breastfriend’ (as I’m going to call her) is going through this season of life as well, but she is several hundred miles away. She gives me the most support she can being at a far distance, but it’s not the same as being able to go to her house and just be around her or get hands on help when I need it.
The thing that resonated with me most when I told the LC (Lactation Consultant) that I did not have support here was that she hugged me and said “well then you make your own tribe and that’s why we’re here!” And that could not be more true in this season of life. This group has been the most supportive women I have ever met. I cried the first 5 meetings but each time I left refreshed and recharged (even my mom and husband could tell a difference).) Knowing that I have a group of like-minded women that I get the pleasure of spending 4 hours a week with lets me know that I am not alone. That this journey that I am on is meant to be a collaboration. When they say it takes a village to raise a child, they weren’t kidding!
2. Make a plan
One of the LC’s for Milk Mama’s told me from the beginning that we are going to make a plan. We will try that plan and if it fails, we will move on to the next plan until we find what works. We all know not every mom and baby are made equal and that fact alone can cause issues when it comes to feeding. We all hope that the first plan works but when it doesn’t move on to the next. With your tribe beside you, there can never be to many plans!
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I was nervous attending my first meeting as I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had already asked the hospital LC’s, my baby’s pediatrician, and my OBGYN for help and basically got nowhere. I was to the point of wanting to give up because the never-ending pain was almost unbearable. I didn’t know how this group would be able to help me when so many others could not. The difference was the mindset of the first people I had asked. They did not understand breastfeeding or did not have good experiences with it, therefore they could be of no help.
I also learned that even though the first group of doctors and LC’s could not help me I should not be ashamed to reproach them if I had other issues arise. For instance, in my case, I had friends tell me about All Purpose Nipple Ointment that had helped them but I was afraid to call my OB back and ask for it. The first time I told her that I was in pain, her reply was “breastfeeding just hurts!” I was getting to the point where I no longer even wanted to go to my doctors for help because I was afraid of what they would say. It should not be like this and they (of all people) should be advocating for you and be willing to help in whatever ways possible. Stand up for yourself and what you feel is right or beneficial in your circumstances and don’t back down!
4. Do your research
Since it is difficult sometimes to find the proper help you need, do your research. We are our best advocates and we need to be equipped with the knowledge to handle issues as they arise. Being knowledgable in different cases such as under supply and oversupply and latch issues is key to helping you and your new baby if breastfeeding does not come easily.
You always here about what to do for under supply or a low supply of breast milk but you don’t always here about what to do when you have an oversupply. Having an oversupply has just as many issues as a low supply but the issues are different. Doing your research can help you understand them better. In my instance, my newborn had an undiagnosed tongue tie that did not get revised until 5 weeks old and I had an oversupply that I was battling with. This caused a lot of problems with breastfeeding and latching. If it was not for my own research and the help of my new-found breastfeeding support group, I may have never known and given up on breastfeeding. Be your best advocate and equip yourself with knowledge!
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing we can do as mothers and whether you think it will come easy or not, there are bound to be some bumps along the way. These bumps are not meant to be traversed alone! Find your tribe, make a plan, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and do your research! These steps will help you in the hardest of times on your new journey of breastfeeding and bonding!
Have you or anyone you know struggled with breastfeeding in the past or are currently struggling? What advice do you have for others in this season of life?