How to overcome your fear of breastfeeding

August is Global Breastfeeding Awareness month. Here is why it's important

If you are pregnant and dreading breastfeeding, you are not alone. For many moms, the thought of breastfeeding causes them anxiety, worry, and fear. More and more moms these days are scared to breastfeed for various reasons. Crippling thoughts of whether or not breastfeeding is hard; if it’ll hurt; if they’ll have enough supply; if they’ll be able to breastfeed in public; if their breasts won’t stop leaking; and on and on build upon each other resulting in a real fear of breastfeeding.

In this guide, we shall highlight some of the common fears most moms have about breastfeeding. We shall also tell you what you can do to get past them to ensure that you have a wonderful breastfeeding journey when the time comes.

Common reasons why you might be scared of breastfeeding

Here are some of the common reasons why moms have a fear of breastfeeding. We have also included some of the things you can do to ease those fears.

📌1. You are scared of breastfeeding pain

For some women, breastfeeding can be an uncomfortable or even painful experience, especially at the beginning. Cracked and sore nipples are a common occurrence in those first few weeks.

The good news is that these issues usually go away after a couple of weeks as your body adjusts to breastfeeding. Your breasts will not be so sensitive anymore, and once you learn to get a good latch, nursing will be an easy and comfortable experience.

But how do you manage that initial pain? Well, the first thing you have to do is learn how to latch your baby correctly. Most of the pain comes from a bad latch. If you have cracked or sore nipples, use lanolin cream before and after each feeding session to ease the discomfort. And try to relax when you breastfeed, stress just makes things worse. And take heart in knowing that like a lot of women, you might never even experience any pain at all!

📌2. You are scared your body will not go back to normal or it will change too much

No one’s body shrinks back to its pre-pregnancy size right after delivery. Even after your baby is born, you’ll still look at least six months pregnant for a while. And whether you breastfeed or not, your breasts will go through changes.

For some women, bigger breasts are a good thing. For others, it’s the last thing they need. And won’t your breasts look like deflated balloons once you stop breastfeeding?

Well, throughout your pregnancy, your body has been changing, so you are probably already used to it. Think of these final changes as the last stage of your pregnancy body changes.

The good news is that there is supportive gear for everything these days. If you are worried about your breasts, invest in a quality nursing bra to help give you all the extra support you need. And don’t worry, your breasts will go back to their normal size eventually.

📌3. You are afraid you will fail at breastfeeding

By now, you’ve probably already heard all about how important it is to breastfeed your baby. You’ve also probably already come face to face with the mom guilt. And all this has made you afraid that you do not have what it takes to meet your breastfeeding goals. If you were not able to breastfeed your first child, this feeling could be even worse. 

While breastfeeding is a great thing, it is not what makes someone a mother. You do not become a better mom because you breastfed your child. It is important to always do what works for you and resist being pressured into situations you are not comfortable with. This means if you feel like have to bottle feed or even use formula, go for it!

The best thing you can do for yourself is to let go of all the pressure you are putting on yourself. Don’t tie yourself-worth to breastfeeding; it is only a tiny measure of motherhood.

📌4. You are afraid you will fail at breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in public is a scary thought for most moms. You may not want to expose yourself in public or get caught in the never-ending debate of whether or not it is ok nurse in public. Even if you are at a friend’s house, nursing still feels awkward. Yet you do not want to be confined to your home for as long as your baby needs to breastfeed. 

If you are afraid of exposing yourself at the hospital, don’t be. When the time comes, it will be the last thing on your mind as you focus on your baby. Plus, doctors and nurses have seen it all, so you should not worry about them. However, if you are concerned, just let them know and they will respect your requests or decisions.

As for breastfeeding in public, you can start doing it with a nursing cover, a swaddling blanket, or even a large scarf to cover yourself. If you are in someone’s house, you can nurse in a private room away from everyone else.

Don’t worry about being stuck in the house for as long as your baby needs to nurse. You can plan your outings around your little one’s feeding schedule to allow you to breastfeed at home as much as possible before heading out. 

📌5. You are afraid of leakages

You’ve probably heard the horror stories of women who started to leak while sitting in important meetings or the middle of a shopping mall. You can’t even begin to imagine how embarrassed you’d be if that happened to you. 

Well, it does not have to. Leaking happens when your breasts produce too much milk that needs to be drained. You’ll mostly be able to predict this based on your baby’s feeding schedule. For example, if you miss a feeding session, you’ll probably leak.

Sometimes though, leakages come out of nowhere. In these situations, nursing pads will prevent your breast milk from getting to your clothes. Check out our list of breastfeeding essentials for more useful supplies that will help in this and other situations. 

📌6. You are afraid breastfeeding will be inconvenient

Being the only person who can meet your baby’s needs is not fun, is it? When they rely entirely on you, it can be quite limiting. If you have also heard how often babies nurse, especially in the beginning, you’re probably scared of just how stuck you’ll be as you cater to your baby’s needs. 

The good news is that none of this lasts forever. Instead of resisting the new changes in your life and blaming everything on nursing, enjoy the fact that everyone else has to wait on you hand and foot and you do not have to do any chores. Everyone wants you to rest and relax, and you can take advantage of all that time to bond with your baby. It’s a blessing that you’ll only have for a short time, so relish it while you can.

📌7. You are afraid breastfeeding will be sexually stimulating

Despite being primarily meant for nursing, breasts have been sexualized so much that a lot of women see that as their primary function. Because of this, they may be concerned about what breastfeeding will do to their mental state.

If you are a first-time mom, you may be anxious about how nursing your baby will feel. You may also have concerns about how your partner will see you once you start nursing, and what that will do to your sex life.

Well, there is nothing sexual about breastfeeding. By the time your baby starts to nurse actively, you will be so sleep-deprived that sex will be the last thing on your mind. Breastfeeding will make you relaxed, and not in a sexual way. 

If you are concerned about your partner’s feelings, talk to them about it. Let them know your fears and work through them together. Hear each other out because you are both parents and you need to work through these things as a team.

Final Thoughts

A lot of moms dread the thought of breastfeeding. Many of them are afraid because they have no idea what to expect, they are worried about the potential pain, or they cannot bare the pressure society puts on them to pull off breastfeeding flawlessly on the first try. If all you can think about is how scared you are of breastfeeding, it is understandable if you are not enthusiastic about it.

Having some fear of breastfeeding is a normal thing. You are starting a new chapter in your life, and it is normal to feel anxious about it. The good news is that there are practical steps you can take to overcome these fears as outlined above. This way, breastfeeding will be a successful experience for both you and your little one, regardless of your fears.

If you are feeling guilty, don’t. We can only hope that the information contained in this guide will start to help you deal with the fears you have about breastfeeding. Most importantly, if your fears about breastfeeding feel overwhelming, talk to someone. Talk to your partner and express your concerns to your healthcare provider on your visits. Talking helps a lot and hearing someone else’s perspective on something will take a huge load off your shoulders. Good luck!



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