What I wish I had known about breastfeeding

Posted on August 6th, 2019

Breastfeeding is not a skill that comes naturally to every mom. It’s a rhythm both you and your baby need to practise to get it right. Seven moms share what they wish they had known about breastfeeding beforehand.

What I wish I had known about breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is not always as easy as putting your baby to your breast, her latching on immediately and off you go on a wonderful bonding experience. Sometimes it’s hard! Some moms don’t get it right the first time. It hurts, your nipples are on fire and baby doesn’t seem to want to drink. These are all concerns and problems that can be rectified and addressed when you discuss them with a lactation consultant.

ALSO SEE: 10 things women worry about when breastfeeding 

These moms share what they wish they had known about breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding is a learned skill

“As first-time moms we are often expected to know exactly what to do. No matter how much you read, the practical experience of breastfeeding is a learned skill. So expect it to be something new and not something you have to master on the first day.” – Nasreen Jaffer

It’s ok to struggle

“As with everything in life, everyone’s story is different. From my university days I was very aware of the theory regarding breastfeeding. However, I didn’t have any idea of the variables that existed. I really struggled to breastfeed my children, and what made it even harder was seeing other mothers whose children latched beautifully, or didn’t battle with pain. I wish I had known that sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally and that it is okay if you struggle with it.” – Vanessa Clarke

ALSO SEE: Tips to avoid painful breastfeeding 

Get expert help

“I never knew how much I would enjoy it and how much I would miss it once I stopped. Being able to breastfeed your baby is such a great privilege and the wonderful quality time you have with your baby is priceless. I also learned that just because it was easy the first time around, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy the second or third time. Feeding my first and second children was relatively easy as they both loved breastfeeding. When my third child arrived, I just assumed she would latch and feed easily like the other two did. But this wasn’t the case, even though with perseverance, I’m still breastfeeding 15 months later. If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, my advice to new moms is to get help from a lactation consultant. They are able to assess each situation individually and provide you with sound advice and support.” – Maryke Gallagher

Remember why you wanted to breastfeed

“Before I had my children, I had completed most training available on breastfeeding in the public sector at the time – so I had a good knowledge base. However, what training cannot instill is the vasbyt factor – the perseverance required to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby. I believe that perseverance to breastfeed exclusively, and to continue breastfeeding, stems from the deep belief that it is the right thing to do. I’m nurturing my children and providing them with the best nutrition possible. When times were tough, I reminded myself of this truth.” – Lisanne Du Plessis

Being separated from your baby will be painful

“I wish someone had warned me that I would not want to go back work at the end of my maternity leave because I wanted to keep breastfeeding. I wasn’t ready for the pain of being separated from my baby. It’s now 20 months later with my little one and I still struggle to separate.” – Thembekile Dhlamini

Breastfeeding is not a task, it’s a relationship

“I never knew how important my mind-set would have to be to truly engage and enjoy my breastfeeding journey. I learnt that breastfeeding is not a job or a task to complete. It’s a relationship you build and invest in and therefore, it takes time.” – Chantell Witten

It takes a village

“Before I started breastfeeding, I wish I’d known just how much of a team effort this journey would be. I went in with the idea that breastfeeding was solely my responsibility and as a result, put a lot of pressure on myself. Unknowingly however, I had a great support team, each contributing in their unique way. Friends and close colleagues shared their real-life mom stories and a lactation consultant guided me on choosing the right pump as a working mom. Within minutes of my baby being born I had the hands-on, practical support of great midwives in hospital. By the time I got home, I underestimated the encouragement and support I would get from my husband. He kept motivating me to keep positive and took care of things like stocking up the breastfeeding station with water, tea and healthy snacks, and bringing baby to me when I was utterly exhausted. As Helen Keller said: ‘Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.’” Monique Piderit

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Our experienced editors work with trained journalists and qualified experts to compile accurate, insightful and helpful information about pregnancy, birth, early childhood development and parenting. Our content is reviewed regularly by our panel of advisors, which include medical doctors and healthcare professionals.