Tried and true breastfeeding tips for mamas-to-be.

Are your family, friends, and sometimes even strangers driving you crazy with all the negative sh** they say about you breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed your child?

Are you tired of hearing about how your breastmilk will leave your baby unfulfilled and hungry, and how baby formula is so much easier and maybe even better?

Oh really!

Sis, let me help you hush that nonsense and walk confidently into your breastfeeding journey.

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You are enough! And, your milk alone is enough. It is everything your baby needs for the first 6 months of life.

But, being set up to fail, layered with the emotional turmoil that comes with constantly having to defend your choice to breastfeed your baby can be absolutely draining. So, let me tell you how to protect your peace and enjoy your breastfeeding journey.

The 5 ways to protect your peace and enjoy breastfeeding include:

  1. Know what to expect.
  2. Set your boundaries.
  3. Prepare for the journey.
  4. Identify your support team.
  5. Seek help when needed.

1. Know what to expect.

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If you’ve already birthed your baby and began your breastfeeding journey, you’ve probably already heard some crazy and completely inappropriate comments.

And, if you haven’t had your baby yet, get ready.

So many new mamas are bombarded with unsolicited, unsupportive, and potentially dangerous advice when it comes to feeding and caring for their babies.

We hear comments like…

  • “Put some cereal in that baby’s bottle!”
  • “Ain’t nobody going to be able to watch that baby if you keep breastfeeding.”
  • “Are you still breastfeeding, how long are you going to do that for?”

These types of comments are one thing, but the actions of family members and caretakers can be unbelievable, unforgivable, and downright disrespectful.

We hear stories of…

  • Wasting breastmilk, yup, the “liquid gold”…smh.
  • Putting holes in the bottle nipples so the milk will flow faster.
  • Giving food to exclusively breastfed babies.

These things are being done with complete awareness that it goes against the mama’s wishes for her baby. Stuff like this can cause a postpartum mama undue stress and potentially lead to depression. But, being aware that these types of challenges exist will better prepare you, should you encounter them.

2. Set your boundaries.

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While some of the things previously mentioned may seem like things people should know not to do, don’t assume. Be very intentional when it comes to protecting your peace and creating life situations that are physically and mentally healthy for both you and your baby.

While you surely are not required to share your plans with your family, you may find it helpful if you do. Making everyone aware of your goals and expectations may help prevent frustration and disappointment. At the very least, if someone goes against your wishes, they shouldn’t be surprised when you let them know that it’s not okay.

As an example, if you plan to exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months, as it’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), let your family know. And when you do, you may also want to let them know what will help you reach that goal.

You may suggest they say encouraging words like…

  • “It’s amazing that you’re able to nourish your baby.”
  • “I’m proud that you are still working towards your breastfeeding goals.”
  • “The bond between you and baby is precious!”

And you may want to ask them to avoid questions or comments like…

  • “Do you think baby is still hungry?”
  • “Baby would sleep better if you gave him/her some cereal.”
  • “That baby has teeth, don’t you think it’s time for a bottle?”

Whatever your breastfeeding goals may be, establishing healthy boundaries is essential for both your peace of mind and breastfeeding success.

3. Prepare for the journey.

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While breastfeeding is a natural process, it’s not easy. Many women report challenges, including latching pain, sore nipples, engorgement, and insufficient supply. With proper education and preparation, breastfeeding can be made easier and many of these issues can be avoided or quickly resolved.

As a breastfeeding specialist and a mama having nursed two babies, one for 17 months, my advice for any mama-to-be hoping to breastfeed is to take a prenatal breastfeeding course. Breastfeeding is a learned process for both mother and baby. With the right information and coaching, oftentimes, you can learn how to be successful.

The right breastfeeding class will teach you:

  • The benefits of breastfeeding for mama and baby.
  • How breastfeeding works, and what’s meant by supply and demand.
  • Diet and nutrition for breastfeeding mamas.
  • Different breastfeeding positions.
  • How to help your baby latch properly so feeding isn’t painful.
  • Tips for milk expression and proper storage.
  • How to know if your baby is getting enough milk.
  • How to navigate challenges and when to seek help.
  • How to advocate for your rights.
  • How to confidently breastfeed your baby in public, and for as long as you’d like.

Preparation is key! Breastfeeding success is largely contributed to how your journey begins. Having an understanding of how it works will better prepare you to navigate challenges and block out all the breastfeeding myths you may hear and harmful guidance you may receive from those around you.

4. Identify your support team.

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If you are preparing to birth your baby soon or if you just did so, you probably already understand the importance of having a support team. Just as it’s needed for birth, support teams are also needed for that postpartum period and your breastfeeding journey.

Those early postpartum days and long nights can be exhausting. Feeding on demand, typically every 1–3 hours can be daunting. Navigating challenges while in pain and severely sleep-deprived can seem impossible. But, with the right support, things can be easier.

Having done this two times now, and having supported many families during their journeys, I can tell you there are many ways in which your support team can help.

Your support team can help by:

  • Limiting visitors so you can focus on establishing a good breastfeeding routine.
  • Taking care of older siblings and other household chores so your load is lightened.
  • Ensuring you have all the pillows needed to comfortably position the baby when nursing.
  • Providing healing and warming foods to aid in your recovery.
  • Keeping you hydrated to support milk production.
  • Offering words of encouragement to help you stay motivated and committed to your goals.
  • Taking over the other new baby responsibilities, like diapering, bathing, and soothing, so you can get some rest.

While having a supporting partner ready and willing to assist as needed and having family willing to also pitch in may be ideal, they are not your only options. There are postpartum doulas and night nannies ready and willing to serve you, and to help you protect your peace so you can focus on nurturing your new baby.

5. Seek help when needed.

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While many mamas find that breastfeeding gets easier as time goes by, some mamas need professional care to overcome their challenges, and that’s okay.

The key to a peaceful and joyous experience is to seek help early and as needed. See a breastfeeding specialist or lactation consultant immediately after your child’s birth, preferably that same day, so they can help you implement those techniques learned in your prenatal breastfeeding class.

Don’t wait until your nipples are cracked and bleeding and your breasts are rock hard from engorgement before seeking help. If you have absolutely any concerns my recommendation is always to seek help. If you pause and think, “should I call,” please call!

If this is what you want for you and your baby, don’t let anyone convince you to stop because you have a few hiccups. There are breastfeeding specialists who can perform a breastfeeding assessment and create a care plan to help you overcome your challenges. You can easily find a breastfeeding specialist online; and, of course, you can always contact your care provider for a referral.

While there are definitely benefits to seeking face-to-face support, some things can be assessed and corrected through virtual support. One benefit of this COVID-19 pandemic is that virtual support is more readily available for those mamas too busy or too tired to pack their baby up and travel to a physical appointment. So, don’t let your exhaustion prevent you from getting the help you need. You can access care from the comfort of your home.

I hope you found this information helpful. August is National Breastfeeding Month and the last week in August is Black Breastfeeding Week, so stand proudly in your decision to feed your baby the milk that was specifically created for them. And, use the 5 tips shared to protect your peace and enjoy your breastfeeding journey.

Remember, your milk is more than enough! And, you have professionals available to help if needed. M.A.M.A. provides virtual breastfeeding support to mothers and families across the nation and would love to help you protect your peace and support you during your breastfeeding journey.

I hope you found this information helpful. Subscribe to our newsletter for more tips and tools to help you during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences.

Dominique Jones, owner and CEO of M.A.M.A. Mom’s Advocate & Maternal Advisor, LLC, is a black mother of two young girls (ages 1 and 3). She is a trained childbirth educator, a birth doula, a postpartum doula, and a breastfeeding specialist. She educates, empowers, and assists families with having safe, peaceful, and joyous childbirth and postpartum experiences.