When it comes to breastfeeding, what new moms imagine before having their first baby and the reality of feeding their little one(s) can be very different. As a first-time mom who is still relatively new to the breastfeeding world, I can safely say that the many books I read, YouTube videos I watched, and in-person breastfeeding classes I attended prior to my baby’s birth definitely helped, but it’s still difficult to understand exactly what breastfeeding entails until your baby arrives. And once they do arrive, the reality is rarely the serene setting of the videos in lactation classes showing women lovingly feeding their baby. Sure, I lovingly feed my baby, but it took weeks of both of us crying to get there.
Maybe your little one latched on only five minutes after arriving in the world and you’ve had a pain-free, stress-free breastfeeding experience. I have a friend who has never had any issues with breastfeeding–she loved it, even–which is the only reason I know that’s possible. For the rest of us who have struggled, I see you, I feel for you, I dream of my first post-breastfeeding margarita alongside you.
I always wondered if I’d have the nerve to breastfeed in public. Now, I wish I could go back in time and re-write my wedding invites to include an addendum encouraging any women breastfeeding to do so during the ceremony or reception. If you’re breastfeeding your child, you should be allowed to do it anytime, anywhere. Women are badasses.
If you choose to breastfeed (no judgement) and are able to breastfeed (no judgement), the reality is often different from what was envisioned. Take me, for example:
Before Baby: I will have perfect posture every time I feed my baby as per the recommendation of my lactation consultant.
Reality: I will remain hunched and disfigured in whatever form it takes for the baby to latch. My spine will take on the shape of a question mark, the same punctuation that will later accompany my child’s question, ‘Why does mommy look like Gollum?’
Before Baby: I will keep the environment I breastfeed in serene and peaceful. Maybe I’ll add a waterfall to the nursery or hire a cello player for late night feedings.
Reality: I will do whatever it takes to stay awake during feedings, including binge watching the Kardashians at 2 am on E! until I begin to regret not naming my child something that starts with ‘K.’
Before Baby: I will consume nothing but healthy food while breastfeeding. All my meals will include the perfect servings of protein, fruit and vegetables.
Reality: I will live on coffee and granola bars and half a banana.
Before Baby: I need lots of cute nursing tops to wear around the house and when I go out.
Reality: I need lots of free t-shirts from charity marathons to wear 90 per cent of the time and one cute nursing top to put on 20 seconds before I leave the house.
Before Baby: I will create a schedule and feed the baby at the same time every day.
Reality: I will whip out a boob if it means this baby stops crying. Day or night, boobs out.
Before Baby: I will remain calm and cool when breastfeeding is difficult.
Reality: I will try to limit my crying to six times per 24-hour period.
Before Baby: I will schedule a baby photo session to have pictures of my little one looking happy in a meadow.
Reality: I will invite the photographer over to take pictures of the baby while breastfeeding because it’s the only time this kid looks happy.
Before Baby: I can’t wait to breastfeed and have my pregnancy weight fall off.
Reality: I can’t wait to get this latch right and not feel like my boobs are going to fall off.
Before Baby: Breastfeeding is natural, so how hard can it be?
Reality: I can’t believe that after millions of years of mammals living on this planet, evolution hasn’t made breastfeeding easier. Come on, science!
Before Baby: I will not harshly judge myself if breastfeeding doesn’t work.
Reality: I will try very hard to not harshly judge myself when breastfeeding doesn’t always work.