Dear Supermama,

I was eight weeks postpartum, babywearing, folding laundry, and on the phone with a dear friend. Getting a moment to connect with this friend felt like a lifeline. I was new to motherhood, new to the town I lived in, and new to this level of loneliness. After about a half hour of chit chat bliss, Decklen began to stir and I knew he was hungry.

"Can't you just whip out a boob on the couch while we talk? You have AirPods in, right?"

I didn't know how to tell her that I was still using about four special pillows in a Jenga tower sort of puzzle and a nipple shield—and typically needed someone's help to hold the baby, arrange the pillows, and place the nipple shield. 

Just pull out a boob on the couch?! It sounded like trying to do an IronMan. No way.

And yet, by the end of my breastfeeding journey, whipping out a boob on the couch or in the rocking chair—or anywhere—became second nature like driving to the grocery store. My subconscious plugged it in, locked and loaded, no big deal. Phew.

Like learning anything, you're brought to the present moment and the subconscious gets coded—but the coding takes a minute.

And that "minute" becomes crystallized in memory as "My First Breastfeeding Journey," and an unforgettable time. To commemorate my experience and celebrate National Breastfeeding Month, check out this blog for five things I wish I'd known before beginning my breastfeeding journey.

Five Things I Wish I'd Known Before Beginning My Breastfeeding Journey

  1. Use your intuition, but don't hesitate to ask for help.

When Decklen was born and he began rooting down, I instinctively wanted to try to get him to latch. Four different nurses told me not to “worry about that yet," even though the hospital touted healthy, early breastfeeding practices.

I ignored their advice and kept letting him try to latch when I had him in my arms. It took a minute to figure it out, but we started to get it—until I got three opinions from two different lactation consultants and a nurse, confusing the crap out of me.

I resolved to lean into what felt easy, and do a feeding session with a lactation consultant the day we got home from the hospital.

Everyone is going to have opinions. Take them with a grain of salt.

  1. Nipple shields are not bad!

I worried that needing a nipple shield meant something was wrong with me, or that I'd never be able to nurse without one. What I learned was that it was a necessary tool for my cracked and chaffed nipples.

The pain I was in from so many attempts at latching was causing my body to react negatively. By removing the pain via the nipple shield, my flow was better and so was Decklen's latch.

You can find nipple shields very easily, but we love the Haakaa brand.

  1. Every day and every feed is going to be different in the beginning.

Each time I felt like I got it down, something would shift the next feeding.

If I could go back in time and give myself advice, it would be: Each time is going to be different as you learn, and that's OK.

The analogy coming to mind is learning to swing a golf club. Each time you go practice, your swing changes as you build skills, awareness, and muscle memory.

How you breastfeed in week one postpartum will be different than in week three—and that will be different than in month three!

  1. Ignore advice and questions from friends/family. Focus on you and your baby.

People are going to ask you how much, how often, etc.

Every journey is different, so TUNE IT OUT!

For instance, I was obsessed with the Haakaa. I didn’t pump until eight weeks postpartum, and didn't regularly pump until twelve weeks. I collected so much milk simply from using the Haakaa.

Meanwhile, I have friends who could not use the Haakaa and started pumping whilst in the hospital, while other friends exclusively nursed for a year.

Run your own race, and trust your body.

  1. Lean on your partner/friends/family.

Your support system can make or break your breastfeeding journey. From the laundry that piles up from spilled and dripping milk to the extra hands to help adjust your pillows just right to cleaning the pump parts four times a day, breastfeeding and pumping takes a lot of time, money, and energy (about 1,800 hours a year, so they say).

You do not have to do it alone.

Ask for help, phone a friend, and do not feel bad!! We're not supposed to do it alone.

You got this, Supermama!

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