When the going gets tough, try to remember these wise words of encouragement from Cindy-Lee Dennis, PhD, professor at University of Toronto and Canada research chair in perinatal community health.
“There are so many wonderful and supportive resources available to today’s breastfeeding mom,” says Dennis, who suggests moms consider finding a lactation consultant or downloading the new (and free!) MyMedela app for personalized one-on-one guidance. You can also connect with other breastfeeding moms, who can share their positive experiences with you. And don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help! While you’re solely responsible for the act of breastfeeding, your honey can pitch in with other chores, like middle-of-the-night diaper changes.
Confidence is key
Research around the world shows that the more confident a mother is in her ability to breastfeed, the more likely she is to initiate breastfeeding, exclusively breastfeed and continue to breastfeed, Dennis explains. Confidence is built through consistent preparation, so she advises expectant mamas to take a breastfeeding class, read books on the subject and line up their support systems before baby has arrived in order to feel fully prepped and self-assured.
Dennis also suggests setting manageable and frequent breastfeeding goals. (Take the confidence assessment on the MyMedela app to find out what your strengths are and what your goals should focus on.) Small triumphs are still triumphs, and they can make the months ahead feel less daunting. Tell yourself, “Just get through this day, and we’ll take it from there.” Then, try to increase your goal—“OK, now, let’s see if I can handle two more days.” These mental tricks can help you keep going.
Back to the beginning
Dennis’s last piece of advice: When you feel your motivation waning, think back to why you decided to start breastfeeding in the first place. Every now and then, it pays to remember all of the many benefits for both mom and munchkin—most of the time, the good far outweighs the bad.