No matter how much you have prepared to become a breastfeeding mom, going to the classes before birth, reading up all the best books and articles on how to breastfeed and all the benefits of breastfeeding your infant, there’s no way to be fully prepared or know exactly what to anticipate until it’s a real life experience. For some moms breastfeeding is a breeze, they experience no pain, no problems and simply love the experience from the moment their newborn latches on. But for most I believe, it is a learned skill for both mom and baby and sometimes a bumpy road to breastfeeding bliss on both sides of the equation.
I was just watching Bethany Frankel on her reality show for the first time the other night and it showed clips of her trying to breastfeed her infant during the early days. She is clearly sleep deprived and at her wits end as she exclaims “Nobody tells you how hard this is!” Then she exclaims more emphatically and clearly frustrated as her baby hungry baby cries and her partner looks on sympathically “This is like trying to get blood from a stone!” Finally after several clips and edits, the baby latches on and has a successful feeding. Later she comments on the whole nursing on demand experience as she tries to plan her day an has not nursed in public yet: “What if I have a 1:30 appointment and the baby wants to eat at 1:20? What do I do, I’ll just be late!” This is especially true in the early weeks as the baby has to eat around the clock and it’s sometimes hard to predict when that will be. If you are in public, be sure to bring a nursing cover or wear a discreet nursing top because you may just need to sit on the nearest park bench and feed your baby a snack.
Most nursing moms do get into the swing of some sort of schedule after the first few months and can better anticipate their baby’s feedings. Some moms find having a pumped bottle of milk on hand is helpful for on the go days when you don’t have the time or privacy to nurse as you would like and need to tide over the baby until you get a better moment. (This is assuming your baby can take a bottle and you are able to pump milk.)
If you do plan to nurse on the go, you will need a number of nursing tops that can be worn on any given day to any given place in any weather. The Bravado Nursing Bra Tank is an excellent choice to get you going. These tanks are super supportive and easy to use for breastfeeding. They come in many different solid colors, are extra long over your postpartum tummy so you don’t have to flash any belly skin and they have adjustable straps. You can layer this top for cooler weather and it can be dressed up or down and worn anytime of the year.
Another great cami for layering is Japanese Weekend’s Nursing Body Shaper. This cami is made for layering and not only gives you easy nursing access but actually flattens and smoothes out your belly. Your body looks lump free under any top and you can also nurse on the go in confidence without showing any skin.
The most important asset you can take with you in your early breastfeeding endeavors is a great deal of patience and confidence to know it will eventually work. This is not easy to do when you are sleep deprived with an infant who wants to try and feed around the clock and may be even crankier than you are. There is also added pressure if your family members, friends or even spouse is not supportive of your efforts. If you are still having problems with latching it is worth the time and investment to schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant who is specifically trained to advise women and offer hands on training to breastfeeding problems. Oftentimes your area may offer free breastfeeding clinics. La Leche League is also an excellent source for breastfeeding advice and support. It helps to know you are not alone in your breastfeeding endeavors and to talk to other moms who have survived the early months and now have a successful breastfeeding relationship with their babies.
Also, the more you nursing on the go, the easier it gets and the more freedom you have with your life. You will grow your confidence as you find your baby can adopt to feeding anywhere and you can make do with whatever quiet corner you can find. Most nursing moms eventually discover they have an easier time of it nursing than bottle feeding as you have everything you need on your body and less needed in your diaper bag – forget the bottles, nipples and formula. You don’t have to worry about your milk going bad or being too cold or hot. Your milk is always the perfect temperature and perfect consistency for your baby. You really are everything your baby needs and you will grow in confidence to breastfeed successfully anywhere you need to go.