Finding Support for Your Perfectly Imperfect Breastfeeding Journey

I still remember the first week after I brought my newborn son home from the hospital. Reruns of “Gilmore Girls” played in the background as I desperately tried to get my baby to nurse. Fighting back tears, I would ask myself: “What am I doing wrong?”

My experience was nothing like the photos you see in baby magazines. Instead, I was dealing with sore nipples, a screaming baby, non-stop feedings, and sleepless nights. I would have gladly traded places with the chipper, coffee-sipping characters on TV.

Now that time has passed, I realize a lot of my frustrations had to do with unrealistic expectations.  Caring for a newborn comes with a learning curve, and it’s important to recognize that not everything will work out according to the plans we make during pregnancy. 

In other words: the idea of perfection is so imperfect.

I encourage all mothers not to suffer in silence! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; rather it is a sign of knowledge and understanding.

Many of the mothers who visit my office experience common complications that can be improved or resolved with assistance. Whether its latch issues, difficulty pumping, or supply problems, these are the situations that lactation consultants like me are trained to address. 

My turning point came when my son was nine days old. At his pediatrician checkup, the nurse asked me how breastfeeding was going. I had two options: force a fake smile or tell the truth. In that moment, I realized that in order for me to continue this breastfeeding journey—and maybe even come to enjoy it—I needed to be honest.

Do not ever be ashamed to ask a friend, relative, or professional for help and guidance.  Mothers who seek out support are more likely to continue breastfeeding than those who try on their own.   

This is what I know…

  • Breastmilk is the perfect nutrition for babies.
  • Breastfeeding can sometimes prove difficult, which is why there are resources for help.
  • Your baby’s first milky smile will always remain in your memory.
  • Your baby does not expect you to be perfect.
  • The Internet will fill your mind with unrealistic expectations. Avoid chat rooms, baby forums, and Facebook if they make you feel bad. 
Speak up if there is an issue you are concerned with regarding breastfeeding. Reach out for guidance and support, and be open with others about your perfectly imperfect breastfeeding journey.

Updated February 24, 2021

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