Breastfeeding: Natural Doesn’t Mean Easy

We’ve all seen those pictures of the famous moms looking flawless while their babies are perfectly latched on, feeding away, neither one with a care in the world. They make it look so natural and easy. Well, here’s the truth about breastfeeding: It’s natural, but it’s not always easy.

How you choose to feed your child is a personal choice, and what works for you may not work for another mom. And that’s OK. But if you’re deciding whether to breastfeed, there’s a lot to consider. You may want to ask yourself these questions: Do I have the time to commit to this? Will I be in an environment where I feel comfortable breastfeeding? For how long do I want to breastfeed? If I’m planning to go back to work, will I be able to pump?

There are health benefits to consider, too. Research suggests that breastfed babies have strengthened immune systems and decreased risk of ear infections and of developing childhood obesity. It’s also an incredible opportunity to bond with you. But you should also know that it’s not easy for everyone: Your breasts will be heavy and sore, you’ll be tired, you may struggle with getting your baby to latch, you might make too little (or too much) milk. I know, because I faced some of these challenges myself.

When I had my first son, I was very young. Honestly, the thought of breastfeeding grossed me out, and I didn’t know the potential benefits of breastfeeding. By the time I was pregnant with my second son, I’d had more exposure to breastfeeding and knew more about it. I knew I wanted to do it, and I was committed to making it work. But when I first tried it in the hospital, I didn’t have the full support of baby-friendly nurses, doctors, and lactation consultants. They were not available as often as I needed them. I wasn’t even sure if I was holding him the right way! The cradle hold? The crossover? The football? What was going to be most comfortable for the both of us?