Dear Breastfeeding Mama,
It’s hard, I know. You’re not sure if you are doing it right. You have all of these anxieties, all of these concerns. Everyone is offering you unsolicited advice and back-handed comments. Family members are telling you that it’s ok to give up. Doctors are telling you that it’s ok to give up. You’re staring at that can of formula and pleading with yourself to give up. But you can’t, there is something inside of you pushing you to keep going.
Will my milk come in? It will. Believe.
Is she getting enough milk? She is. Believe.
Is my supply good enough? It is. Believe.
It’s in our human nature to make things more complicated than they are. To hold our anxieties on a pedestal that isn’t deserved. Motherhood is so new, so overwhelming, that the loudest thing we listen to is our fear that we are not enough. To top it off, pediatricians, family members, and well-meaning friends are trying to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing.
But I implore you to please drown it out. Drown out the fear, drown out the stress, drown out the negativity from those who are trying to “help” you, and listen…listen to that instinct, the one that makes you the feral mama bear that you are.
There is an epidemic in our breastfeeding culture, and that is that we are constantly being told we aren’t enough. Breastfeeding mothers are being told to supplement with formula, to pump more, or load up on the Fenugreek and other teas and potions to increase their supply.
No one is telling you to trust yourself. No one is telling you to trust your baby. Everyone is recommending you buy this supplement, pump every two hours for 10-15 minutes, stick to this feeding schedule, etc. for it will surely increase your supply. But no one is telling you the truth, and the truth is: your baby knows what it needs. Your baby tells your body what it needs every time you let him nurse. Your pump doesn’t know what your baby needs. The Fenugreek doesn’t know what your baby needs. Your baby knows what it needs.
But what about those of you who rely on pumping to feed your babes? Well, the next best thing to letting your baby tell your body what it needs is this: believe in yourself.
There is power, so much power in believing in yourself. Nothing is a greater boost to your supply than the mere belief that you are enough. When you are fearful, when you are stressed, your body knows this and it responds accordingly. But when you consciously choose to let the fear go, to let the stress go, and just let your body do what it knows it can do; you may be surprised at what it can do for your supply and more than that, what it can do for you as a mother.
So remember mama bear, remember these words and hold on to them. Repeat them so that they are louder than your fear and louder than the naysayers:
You are enough.
It is as simple as that.
(Image Credit: © Gwen Hawkins Photography)