New Year’s Resolutions for … Breastfeeding?
Move over, resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more or switch to a more thrilling
job. If you’re expecting your first, second, third baby (or more—bless you), we’ve
got a set of New Year’s resolutions to give a boost to the girls under your nose,
bra not required. With 75 percent of moms trying to breastfeed, but only 14 percent
making it to the minimum six months of exclusive breastfeeding recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s time to take a page out of what works with diet and exercise and apply it to achieving your personal nursing goals. Breastfeeding and working out have a lot of similarities—they both have whopping short-term and lifetime benefits for you and your baby, and they can alternate between being challenging, downright frustrating and breathtakingly rewarding. Here are a few suggestions for getting nursing off on the right foot this time:
1. Know what to expect. Like exercising, there’s a learning curve (http://www.bestforbabes.com/prepare-the-learning-curve-of-breastfeeding/) for breastfeeding, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It may be uncomfortable, you may get sore or you may want to throw in the towel from time to time. That’s normal! Every ounce counts, so give yourself lots of praise for making the effort and for hanging in there, and reward yourself for milestones like the first time you can latch the baby on well without help, or the first time you feel comfortable nursing in public. A massage or a shopping trip (cute nursing top or sexy nursing lingerie?) can do wonders for your mama mojo.
2. Forgive yourself. If you didn’t breastfeed your first, or quit before you wanted to, let yourself off the hook. First of all, it’s likely you were unwittingly booby-trapped (http://www.bestforbabes.org/breastfeeding-booby-traps/) by barriers beyond your control, and chances are you did the best you could under the circumstances. Second of all, beating yourself up never helps—it just makes things worse. Chalk up past flops as part of the fantastic learning experience that will make you more motivated and more successful this time around.
3. Be realistic, and be prepared. Setting achievable goals is just as important for breastfeeding as it is for running a race. You may have a vision of a marathon-worthy three years of exclusive breastfeeding in your mind, but races are run one minute at a time. Take stock of your situation—are you going back to work? Are you a single parent? Do you have a toddler underfoot? Figure out where you will need more help and make a plan to get it, whether it means working something out with your employer, lining up help from your friends and family, or swapping babysitting with another mom. Remind yourself that parenthood is about progress, personality and perseverance, not perfection!
4. Keep it simple. Don’t set out to read every massive tome on lactation management issues and get a PhD in boobology—your head will be swimming, and your confidence sinking, in obscure conditions and syndromes that are usually preventable or only affect a small percentage of moms. Instead, 1) arm yourself with information via a good, recommended breastfeeding class and a great DVD—try Shari Criso’s Simply Breastfeeding; 2) watch another mother nurse (YouTube has a wealth of videos if you don’t have a breastfeeding friend or relative); and 3) get a good coach and cheering squad (i.e., a certified lactation consultant or La Leche League group).
5. Stay positive. See yourself as successful and able to adapt to any challenges or hurdles that come your way, just as with any other part of mothering—we all fall down and pick ourselves up. Stay away from naysayers, and tell busybody in-laws that just like seatbelts and sunscreen, we know more now, and that your doctor supports you (whether he/she does or not). Finally, try to relax and enjoy. Breastfeeding will provide you with endless comedic material for cocktail parties and qualify you for a new set of “motherhood stripes” (along with being that mom with a wailing kid in the grocery store). Remind yourself that all your babes love you and that you’re doing an awesome job!
The Best for Babes Foundation is the only mainstream nonprofit devoted to helping parents beat the booby traps™ —the cultural and institutional barriers that prevent moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals—whether that's two days, two months or two years! Co-founders Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigg, who were themselves booby trapped, are building the "mother of all causes" to ensure that ALL moms are able make an informed feeding decision without pressure, judgment or guilt, and that ALL breastfeeding moms are cheered on, coached and celebrated to a successful finish! For more on how to beat the booby traps™ or to get involved, go to bestforbabes.org.