When you first start breastfeeding it can feel really odd. Considering that for most of us in Western culture our experience with milk is strongly associated with cows it is not surprising. Retraining our brain to associate our breasts with nourishing and nurturing our baby can take time.
When I first started breastfeeding I remember commenting that “I feel like a cow”, especially when expressing milk. A friend of mine is having a similar experience at the moment as she starts her breastfeeding journey, so I’m pretty sure it’s quite common. When she mentioned it to me though it felt jarring. I’ve now been breastfeeding for over 5 years, almost continuously and the idea that breastfeeding has anything at all to do with cows seems really bizarre to me. It’s strange to remember that I felt like that when I started out!
If you’re having this experience, please rest assured, it does pass! As you become more familiar with breastfeeding, and you start to associate breastfeeding with precious bonding moments with your baby, your initial associations with bovines will fade. In the meantime though, I think it’s important to help you feel like a women again, and less like a bovine because it can be really quite depressing!
Here are my three tips to feel more like a woman and less like a cow:
- Emphasise the spiritual, womanly side of breastfeeding. By this I mean allowing yourself to fall into sync with your baby, enjoy the calming effect breastfeeding has on you and your baby, and watch your baby while you breastfeed. Try to avoid making it a ‘process’ where possible, i.e. don’t time feeds or watch the clock, don’t express except if necessary.
- Make time for yourself. If you’re running yourself ragged caring for your baby and all you notice is leaking boobs, clothes that smell like milk and upchuck and blocked ducts then you’re likely to have difficulty feeling very positive about the whole experience! Where possible, make time to have a shower and get dressed in clothes that make you feel good, or even have a relaxing bath while someone else looks after your baby for a while.
- Most importantly: make friends with other breastfeeding mums! Ideally get along to an Australian Breastfeeding Association local group and start socialising with other mums who are breastfeeding. This helps to normalise breastfeeding in your mind and also gives you a fantastic support network!
What are your tips for enjoying the start of your breastfeeding journey?
Corryn has spent many years breastfeeding and trying to work out who she is these days, with a corporate career left behind, and two tiny energetic boys who fill up her life!
You can read more about Corryn and Milk and Love here.