What did your path to breastfeeding success look like?

By Jill Lancaster

One of my favorite things to teach mothers and fathers in Prenatal Breastfeeding class is breastfeeding is “98 percent commitment, and 2 percent technique.” 

success
​If you really think about it, this is a very profound statement. I find most moms really worry about doing everything “exactly right” with breastfeeding. Some moms even worry if every aspect of breastfeeding isn’t going exactly as she thinks it should, she may as well give up and feed the baby formula. May I be so bold as to say there isn’t necessarily one “right way” to successfully breastfeed for moms and babies in general?

Most moms will likely hear many conflicting pieces of advice from their family and friends in early pregnancy, from the nurses and doctors in the hospital after delivery, and maybe even from lactation consultants in the hospital and after discharge. She may read conflicting information from what she has already learned. In my eyes, a mom’s biggest challenge is being able to trust her body and the process of learning to breastfeed her baby. 

Most people like to measure success. Unfortunately it’s not that easy with breastfeeding. So what really is breastfeeding success? And how do we get there? It’s not as cut and dried and as you might think. 

We may be doing ourselves a great disservice by putting such strict parameters and guidelines on how to “successfully” breastfeed. The truth is every mom has a different goal. Every baby presents a new set of challenges, if you will, to overcome. What works for one mom and baby may be a complete disaster for another pair. 

My best advice is this: There is more than one defined path to get to your destination of success. Listen to the tips and tricks from well-meaning friends, family, and even nurses. Take what works for you and your baby, and lovingly leave the rest behind. Please don’t wait to ask for help until you fear you are in jeopardy of not meeting your breastfeeding success goal. 

You may desire to exclusively breastfeed for six months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some moms plan to pump and bottle feed while returning to work or even plan on a combination of both. Maybe you even want to breastfeed for a full year (yeah for you!!) Just remember your path to success will have peaks, valleys, curves and turns. How you reach your goal is not nearly as important as actually reaching your individual goal of success.

The three most important guidelines that will likely keep you on the right path:
  1. ​Feed the baby. Well-fed babies will breastfeed better!
  2. Protect your milk supply. 
  3. Keep working with the baby while you adhere to steps 1 and 2.  
Do the best you can. Don’t get caught up in all of the technicalities and begin to doubt the process. Be patient with yourself and the baby. Surround yourself with others who are supportive of breastfeeding. Seek help early. Lactation consultants are here to encourage, support and cheer you on to success!