How I Exceeded My Breastfeeding Goals {& How I’m Planning to Do It Again!}

Over 2 years ago, as I was pregnant with my first child, I made the decision for myself and my child that I wanted to breastfeed.  I heard all of the benefits for both mom and baby about nursing, so I figured I would give it a go.  And that was about all of the preparation I did – ha!

I assumed there would be nurses to assist me, doctors to call, and lactation consultants to reach out to should I need help.  I bought a breast pump and a few other supplies that were deemed “must-haves” like lanolin cream and breast pads.  I didn’t think much of any of it and just shoved it all in the back of my closet.

Fast forward to those first few weeks at home, and boy was I struggling! I quickly realized that this “natural and beautiful” thing called breastfeeding was a little overwhelming…and I was not prepared!

I’m so incredibly thankful that I didn’t just throw in the towel right then like my mother and husband told me I could. {It was sweet of them to give me an easy out though, as they certainly saw me struggle.}  Being the researcher I am, I hit the blogs, the books, and stuck with the boobs!  I even wrote more about my experience 8 months in on a wonderful series, The Breastfeeding Diaries, that actually provided me with a lot of support at the time.

Setting Small Goals

The best thing I did to exceed my breastfeeding goals was to set small milestones along the way.  It’s easy to set super lofty goals, get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, and then throw in the towel altogether.  So instead, I set smaller goals and told myself I would reevaluate after each one was met and celebrate what I had accomplished.

The first goal was three months – basically, the time during my maternity leave.  I would try to keep going after heading back to the office, but wouldn’t beat myself up if my supply dropped and it was too much to handle.  Goal met, and by month three I was actually loving it!

The next goal was 6 months, and once this came and went, my mental state was still great.  Things were going good with pumping at work and on the go so I kept at it.  Making it work as a working mom is no easy task, but it’s totally doable!

The next goal was a year, and boom – goal met!  I even kept going for a few months after my son celebrated his first birthday.  I was sad to stop nursing {although very happy to say goodbye to my little black bag}, but knew I had done a great job for my child.

Finding a Support System

The other piece of advice that really helped me exceed my goals was finding a support system of fellow nursing moms.  This doesn’t have to be people you already know or are super close to.  I didn’t!  But by finding people who I knew were nursing mamas and even resources like A Woman’s Work or the local La Leche League, I felt supported and encouraged.  This can be as simple as having a quick nursing text convo going or reading through great blog posts knowing that you are not the only one going through struggles – it is all so helpful.

I remember the first time I walked into A Woman’s Work per a friend’s recommendation, and I felt like the angels were singing over me.  I didn’t know that a place like this existed where I could talk about my nursing struggles, get fitted for a nursing bra by someone who actually understands what your body is going through, and buy nursing related supplies like velvety bra pads!  It was just nice knowing that a place like this existed in my city!

Gearing Up To Do It Again

Hello, little black bag…we meet again.  As I am preparing for my second child to arrive in about 3 months, I’m trying to get my “nursing” mind right again.  I don’t want to compare my first situation with my next, since that’s not fair for me or the baby.  I’m sure I will encounter new struggles and new joys, but for now I’m doing something that I didn’t do the first time around – and that is to really get ready for {hopefully} another year of nursing.  Making sure I have the basic supplies on hand, dusting off the nursing books and breast-pump, considering “nursing friendly” attire as I’m shopping for new things, and thinking through how I can tackle this with an active toddler.  I don’t have all of the answers yet, but by thinking about it ahead of time, I already feel better and excited!

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015, it is our goal to raise awareness and shine a light on the many ways to feed and nourish our little ones.  Our goal is to inform and inspire, so join us as our team opens up and shares their personal stories of both the struggles and triumphs of breastfeeding.  To read more, please click here.

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