Knowing that you’re going to have a baby is one of the most amazing things in the world. It’s also one of the scariest things you’re ever likely to go through, especially if you’re a new mom and you’re not entirely sure what to expect.
The truth is, everything about being a new mom can seem overwhelming at times. There is probably nothing else in the world that can make you feel so happy and so utterly terrified, all at the same time.
Let the Preparation Begin!
When I first found out that I was going to be a mom, I felt exhilarated. I was also scared. My husband and I had always wanted children, but we hadn’t planned on having any until later. We were both very involved with our respective careers, and that fact alone posed a big enough dilemma.
As my pregnancy progressed and my body started changing, I often found myself staring back at the blob in front of the mirror, wondering where my body had disappeared to.
The stress increased quite a bit as I realized that we didn’t have any of the things we needed for the new baby or at least we could create a free baby registry online. We needed a crib, blankets, clothes, items for bathing, the list seemed to go on forever.
I had started studying as soon as I discovered I was pregnant and most of the things I read strongly recommended breastfeeding. That meant I needed to purchase items specifically for that activity. To say that I was overwhelmed would be a dramatic understatement.
I needed bottle nipples, a breast pump, and bottles to store the milk in. The thing that concerned me the most wasn’t necessarily buying the required items. I was more worried about making sure that I kept everything disinfected. I was equally concerned that I may not be able to pump when I needed to. There were a whole host of concerns that flooded my mind every time I thought about it.
I worried that I wouldn’t produce enough milk for the baby. To quell those fears, I started reading about various ways to increase the chances that I would be able to deliver the necessary amount of milk to ensure that my baby would grow up healthy and active.
How can you increase the chances of breastfeeding?
Most everything I read recommended eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, and learning to put the fears to bed long enough to sleep through the night. I could and would do all of those things, but I knew that no matter what, some women just can’t produce milk.
What if I was one of them?
I ran across an article that stated that when women are stressed, they produce less oxytocin, which is critical for the production of milk.
This was a real eye-opener for me because it helped me realize that all of my worryings was the one thing I hadn’t addressed appropriately. In short, I had to learn how to calm down. As it turns out, learning as much information as I could serve to help me do exactly that.
We’ve already covered the various ways I found to increase my chances of breastfeeding successfully. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding for the first time often have plenty of other questions, and I was no exception.
I wanted to know if I would start breastfeeding before I gave birth and if so, when?
Through my research, I discovered that I might start producing milk weeks before I had the baby. This is considered perfectly normal. I didn’t want to store something that was produced so far in advance of my baby’s birth, so I discovered how to use nursing pads to make sure that I didn’t get embarrassed in public if you get my drift.
I also found that I could indeed pump breastmilk a few days before I was due to give birth if I chose to do so. For some women, the production of breastmilk continues for a couple of years after they have given birth.
Having more solid information helped me feel less nervous. I found that once I had answers to some of the questions I’d been more or less afraid to ask, I started to feel much more connected to my baby. I stopped thinking of her as a situation that I had to constantly prepare for and began thinking of her as my daughter, someone that I literally couldn’t wait to meet in person.
This leads me to something that I can explain as nothing less than a spiritual revolution. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a very religious person, but I started to connect with my daughter in a way that just can’t be explained in mere words. It’s a feeling that you have to experience to understand and it is very much a spiritual experience all its own.
I finally started to settle down and figure out that I still had a choice to make. Did I want to express my milk into a bottle that I could take with me when we were out or did I want to breastfeed directly regardless of the situation?
Many medical experts believe that it’s healthier to breastfeed directly because it gives the baby more essential nutrients. Also, it’s believed that doing so increases the bond between mother and child.
When it’s all said and done, about eight out of every ten women breastfeed, though a number of them don’t continue it until their baby is genuinely ready for solid food. When you realize the benefits, such as a stronger and healthier baby, a better bonding experience and a reduced chance of depression for the mother, it makes a lot of sense to breastfeed. I know it certainly did for me. It might work for you, too.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.