If I could give new mothers advice about breastfeeding, it would be simple.
Don't worry about not knowing how to breastfeed.
Much rhetoric that exists stating that a newborn instinctively knows how to eat. That's bull! While you are learning to nurse your baby, he's learning the process of nursing. You both will have a learning curve that will be roughest the first initial days and nights of nursing- but you both are still learning.
Read and talk to others about breastfeeding. Educate yourself.
This may appear to contradict Rule Number One, but it doesn't. While you need to relax and realize you and your baby are both learning how to have a successful nursing relationship, you also have close to 40 weeks of pregnancy to educate yourself on various aspects in regard to breastfeeding. From the different holds that may work for you to the benefits of breastfeeding -- there is no excuse not to educate yourself about this important topic and it will help you not only in the physical act of breastfeeding, but it will help you remember how important breastfeeding is.
Don't panic about asking for help.
If you're like me, you believe in baring your body only to your spouse and to an empty shower. You don't like displaying your 'parts' -- not even to your doctor. So how are you going to ask for help? I know it sounds cliché, but the truth of the matter is the nurses on the Postpartum Recovery Ward have seen it all. They'll appreciate your questions and enjoy giving out advice when it comes to breastfeeding a newborn. They are only there to help, not to ridicule. And who could ridicule a new mother trying to do the best for her child?
This leads me to...
Don't worry about exposing yourself in public.
Unless you are planning on popping out a newborn and then immediately hitting the mall for an 8-hour shopping spree, you have plenty of time to perfect the act of nursing discreetly. Start out small -- visiting family and friends. Slowly, when you are comfortable, start visiting public places. You don't have to nurse in the bathroom and you don't have to nurse right in front of the passing Joe Q Public, either. You might choose to nurse in your car in the parking lot or you might choose an empty bench away from the general foot traffic. Take things at your own pace.
Don't forget -- others have been there too.
Whether its cracked nipples or the embarrassment of a stain of milk on the front of your blouse, others have been through it too. If you need help, ask for it.
Finally, remember, you're doing what's best for your baby.
In this day of formula feeding, breastfeeding is not necessary to have a healthy infant. It is, however, the most natural way to feed a baby and no matter how complex and wonderful formula may become it can never be a complete substitute for a mother's milk. Just remember, throughout it all, that you are doing what's best for your baby.
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