So many emotions come with being a new mom. Joy, elation, wonder, and inevitably, anxiety. Many worries plague mothers even before the arrival of the child. These feelings are common for women no matter what their status, religion, location or even period in history. One of the biggest concerns centers on breastfeeding. In the last 10-20 years, much has been learned about the benefits of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding for both baby and mother. Breastfeeding initiatives are much more prevalent than ever before, along with access to free advice, and help from groups such as La Leche League International. So why all the anxiousness? Many things fuel initial nervousness around breastfeeding, including stories from other mothers about how difficult it is; not knowing if you are producing enough milk for our child to thrive; fear of judgement from others when feeding in public; and challenges in the beginning, such as getting the child to latch properly, pain during feedings, and more.
Although most (if not all) mothers experience this type of anxiety, it should not lead any to give up in despair, but to push forward in confidence. For you CAN do this, and do it well. But breastfeeding, like any other skill, takes trial and error, practice, and consistency to master. Below are some tips for managing anxiety during breastfeeding:
- Breathe. The first few minutes of breastfeeding, just take in nice deep breaths, and notice how it calms the mind and makes the process easier. It calms down baby, too.
- Focus on baby. Look at your child during feedings as it releases oxytocin into our bodies (the “cuddle” hormone) and causes our bodies to relax, and is key to helping our baby develop essential social skills.
- Filter out the exterior. If you are in public and need to feed your child, remind yourself of what is important – feeding your baby. Don’t think about who may be looking or you perceive as judging you. So long as you are in a comfortable and safe location, your responsibility lies only in your baby.
- Ask for help. Just because you are a woman does not mean you should automatically be an expert on breastfeeding. Feeling confused or frustrated with the process is common. Breastfeeding, for most women, is a process they need to learn. Reaching out to a lactation consultant or one of the available organizations that can provide you with the facts and the best techniques, practices and tips helps immensely.
- Give yourself some credit. Even if breastfeeding is proving challenging, it is not a reflection on you as a mother or as a person. If it ends up just not working for you or baby, be confident in your decision to go another route. It will in no way harm your relationship with your child, or their development.
Mothers face an indeterminate amount of obstacles, and the process of nourishing your children should be one that can be navigated easily and confidently. If you have any questions or concerns regarding breastfeeding your child, contact our office today.