The other day, someone asked me what I’m most looking forward to as a new mom and what I’m the the most nervous about.  When it comes to what I’m looking forward to, the list goes on and on and on.  And it grows by the day to be honest.  When it comes to what I’m most nervous about, my answer is almost always the same.  Breastfeeding.

I’m not quite sure what I’m nervous about, except that it seems so daunting.  I’m not someone who strictly believes breast is best, but I do want to breastfeed if I can…for as long as I can.  What gives me some sense of relief is knowing that both my sister and I were formula fed and turned out beyond ok (if I do say so myself!).

Some of the moms I reached out to a few weeks ago shared some great breastfeeding advice, so I thought I would post about this topic today.  While it is a very personal decision and can be controversial, I think it’s important for people to have open [minded] discussions about it.  There’s no point in keeping your experiences to yourself when it comes to mom “stuff.”  The more we share, the more normalized it becomes!  It’s also fitting that this is something I think about at least once a day!

Without further ado, please keep reading for personal breastfeeding advice from some pretty awesome mamas!  And please remember that each mama is sharing her own experience.  As I like to frequently remind myself, what works for one person doesn’t always work for the next.  But hopefully, if your’re a mom-to-be or a new mom, pieces of this advice will resonate with you and put your mind at ease!

Advice for new moms-to-be

From a newish mom – “I’m sure each of us could write a book about our experiences with motherhood, but I’ll share my hardest experience – breastfeeding.  Man, breastfeeding hit me like a TRUCK.  I had no idea what a battle it would be and how consumed I would become with winning the war!  I’m still no expert and have ultimately embraced formula (now at ~5.5 months).  However, I wish someone had helped me prepare to be a better breastfeeder.  Again, I could write a book on everything I have learned, but I think I would have been more successful if I prepared for the PAIN and knew that it would PASS. I would tell new mothers (who are committed to breastfeeding) to:

1. Hang in there – it’s worth it.
2. Keep baby at the breast nearly ALL the time, as that’s the only way to make more milk (at least every two hours).
3.  Sleep deprivation will make you nearly insane and feeding every two hours is a very demanding job!  Focus on just feeding + sleeping and ask family to help with everything else. Don’t get bogged down with all the other household responsibilities (like I did) and dedicate yourself to breastfeeding.  The first few weeks (2-6 weeks) are the most important. Consider hiring a postpartum doula or lactation specialist to help you, but baby-to-boob is really the key (practice makes perfect), and yes it will hurt (a lot!).  And do pump if you are hyper-dedicated.
4. “It’s not supposed to be easy!” – as  said by one of our family friends, an elderly Bengali lady with 7 kids of her own.  I hope I’m not scaring you because really breastfeeding is magical once you get through the early horror!  But I have no doubt you can do it!!

5. Get your husband and family on board. It takes the whole family to be committed to breastfeeding for it to be a success. My family tried to spare me and would let me sleep and give the baby a bottle. But every bottle he got would make my supply diminish  so I had to force them to force me to stay on top of breastfeeding (I tell you that “every 2 hours” is no joke).”

From another newish mom – “Nursing is a whole other challenge.  Decide in advance whether you will nurse or use formula, and know that either is great! If you nurse, be extremely patient. It’s common to use formula for a few days or a week to supplement your milk supply as it comes in.  Be patient, and don’t be frustrated if your supply seems lower or slower to come in.  Be patient, persistent and don’t think too much about the whole process.  Also, decide in advance whether you will nurse and/or pump. Giving the baby a bottle earlier on frees mom to take a break (other people can feed the baby) or do other things! You will need a break!”

From a semi-new mom – “If you’re breastfeeding or trying to, I recommend seeing a lactation consultant while pregnant. Go to the classes. Read up on it. But get the consultant’s number if you can. Try to see a lactation consultant while in the hospital. Get someone’s number to call when you’re back home.  You’ll likely have questions, and depending on your area, you’ll have a weekly meet up with the lactation consultant to help with LOTS of things and/or one come to your home once after you’re back home.”

From a slightly more experienced mom – “It is absolutely, 100% a-ok to formula feed. I had a c-section which caused my milk to come in pretty late, and my daughter had a tongue tie which made it difficult for her to latch.  While we eventually got to a point where I was able to breastfeed, the days leading up to that were incredibly frustrating. I kept beating myself up every time I had to open up a bottle of formula, as I was reminded of the unsolicited advice from some hospital doctors, nurses, lactation consultants and some super annoying mommy bloggers ( the internet is evil!), who had no problem making me feel guilty for not breastfeeding. Fortunately, I found a WONDERFUL lactation consultant whose valuable advice to me was “FED=BEST!” She reminded me that my job was to simply provide nourishment for the baby- whether it was breast milk or formula. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for the route you choose. YOU know what’s best for you and your baby!”

From an experienced mom who is who is expecting baby #2 soon! – “This will be a controversial topic, and everyone will have an opinion on it.  You might already have your own thoughts and opinions formed about what you want to do: nurse, pump/nurse combination, exclusively pump, formula feed, etc.  Keep an open mind and don’t be disappointed if you end up going a different route than you envisioned.  Many people (including some nurses and doctors – shame on them), will tell you that you won’t bond with your baby if you don’t nurse, or they will assume you are going to nurse so choosing anything different would be crazy/wrong.  I had a lot of trouble with breastfeeding in the beginning, and I was getting increasingly sad, frustrated and felt like the worst mom because it wasn’t working. My baby was losing weight and all of the nurses were scaring me and freaking me out (partly I was probably overly hormonal/emotional and overreacting) and told me if she didn’t gain weight before we left the hospital, we would need to put her on formula right away, as if it was such a terrible thing.  Finally one lactation consultant came into my room, held my hand, and told me it was ok. I bawled like you would not even believe it – just hearing her say that was everything. I can easily look back at this now and know how silly it was to get so worked up, but at the time, you have no idea and you are so overwhelmed in wanting to do everything right and perfect and you also have all these expectations of nursing your baby.  Ultimately, I decided to stick with trying to nurse but I also learned how to pump while I was in the hospital and fed my baby pumped breast milk from a bottle.  This worked. She was a much happier baby all of a sudden (because she was being fed!), and she started gaining weight.  I felt so much relief, and at that point, I decided to continue with pumping.  After all, she was still getting breast milk and that’s what I wanted. For some women, it’s not as easy to pump, and that’s ok too.  There were times when I went back to work and it was getting difficult for me to pump frequently, so I would have to supplement one feed with formula.  I felt so guilty about it in the beginning, but then I quickly got over it.

I went the exclusive pumping route, which worked for me and my family. But know that what works for you might not work for someone else, etc. Exclusive pumping has its own set of challenges and it takes a lot of dedication and time. I personally, though, felt it was much easier on me and my family to pump than to nurse around the clock: 1) I could set my own schedule on when I pumped, and I could pump more milk and save it to use throughout the day/week. It also allowed me to give my baby breast milk for a longer period of time because I could store breast milk and freeze it and use it months later. 2) Anyone could feed the baby with my pumped milk – my husband, my mom, etc. – and this gave me a break too. If I was exclusively nursing, only I could feed her, which adds to sleep deprivation. 3) It made the transition back to work easier because my baby was already accustomed to a bottle. 4) I didn’t have a baby attached to my boob 24/7. 5) I wanted to make it to one year or more of pumping, but I found out I was pregnant with #2 when baby #1 was 9.5 months old and my milk dried up.  I had no choice but to transition 100% formula. I felt guilty, but it was fine. I let it go.

The challenges of exclusive pumping: 1) It takes up a lot of time. In the beginning, you are pumping every 2-3 hours. But I thought of it the same way as nursing. 2) There is a lot of extra work with pumping because of all the parts/bottles, etc. that you have to clean and wash all day/every day. 3) Your milk supply might vary from week to week and you do have to watch your diet and work hard to produce milk.  But again, this is not much different than nursing. 4) It can be painful after pumping so much.  But this also can happen with nursing.

Basically the motto to this is: whatever happens, I promise it will be fine.  All babies end up growing great and getting the same amount of nutrients. Looking back, I was way too stressed about this.  With baby #2, I am so much calmer, and even if I have do formula from day one, I am totally ok with it.

THE BEST breastfeeding resource is  I used this website for all questions related to breastfeeding.  I highly recommend it.”

By Parita

10 thoughts on “Advice for New-Moms-to-Be — Breastfeeding — Part 2”
  1. Breastfeeding is definitely challenging at first and if you work, there’s the added challenge of pumping at work. My son had a tongue tie so for the first three months, I had a lot of anxiety over whether or not I was making/pumping enough milk. Now at 7 months we have a great breastfeeding relationship and I’m glad I stuck it out – there were times when I was so ready to quit. Breastfeeding and sleep deprivation have been the hardest parts of motherhood! The hospital I delivered at is a Baby-Friendly hospital so they promote breastfeeding and skin to skin, they had amazing Lactation consultants! I highly recommend seeing one while you’re still in the hospital so they can help you get started. I also attended a group at my hospital that was facilitated by the LC’s and that was wonderful. It helped to have the support of other mothers. Whatever you end up doing, just remember that fed is best!

    1. Thank you for sharing, P! We took a breastfeeding class at our hospital this weekend, and the one big thing I took away was the value of having a lactation consultant to guide you during your BF journey. I definitely plan to look into that one a bit more. And yes, fed is best…totally agree!

  2. Great topic!!. At the end of the day, fed is best. I had a lactation consultant at the hospital who made me feel terrible and did a poor job of helping me. I remember bursting out in tears when she left the room. I ended up watching YouTube videos at home to figure out the proper latching technique. Until then, I was in so much pain. Make sure you get a great lactation consultant. And if you have to give formula, don’t beat yourself over it. As long as baby is thriving and you are happy, that’s all that matters.

    1. I hate all these hospital horror stories! I’m so sorry you had to go through that. It’s a little crazy that the very people who are supposed to help you in your first few days of motherhood make you feel so bad about yourself. Thank you for sharing, Remmya! Hope you’re doing well!

  3. I’m so excited for you! There’s nothing more magical than the moment you meet your child for the first time.

    I honestly never had any trouble with breastfeeding. I had heard that it helps for the baby to be offered the breast immediately so I was quite determined to do that and insisted on allowing him to nurse while I was being stitched up for a tear! He took to it right away. Luckily he didn’t have any kind of tongue or lip tie. Those are pretty common, apparently, so it’s a good thing to check for because it is very easy to fix.

    A pump is good to have but I didn’t use mine very much. My baby never really took to a bottle or a pacifier.

    Pay attention for signs of plugged ducts! I didn’t know what they felt like so I got full blown mastitis before I knew something was wrong. It was miserable. The plugged ducts felt like little twinges.

    1. Oh, and I always trusted that whatever I was producing was what he needed so I did not supplement and I’ve never used formula (not a judgement about it, just how things turned out for me!). The first few weeks I didn’t feel like I was producing anything at all. I never leaked, I didn’t see anything, I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t know if I was having a “let down” at all. But as long as the baby seemed satisfied I didn’t worry about it! And that worked out well.

      1. Thank you so much for sharing! We took a BF class this weekend at our hospital and the instructor said some of the same things. Most importantly, she stressed that every mom is different and that we have to trust ourselves and our bodies. They are more sophisticated and in tune to baby than we think!

  4. Another excellent set of advice!!! I wish someone had told me (and my husband) this first bit from the start: “Focus on just feeding sleeping and ask family to help with everything else. Don’t get bogged down with all the other household responsibilities (like I did) and dedicate yourself to breastfeeding.”

    We had to use formula and I wonder if I had cut out some of the other chores to sleep or feed if we might have had more success.

  5. I remember when I had my baby, it took a week before my breastmilk came out. It was very frustrating because I had this whole breastfeeding plan laid out and formula feeding was really not in the books. But I didn’t really have a choice anymore and my doula said it would be fine. It took a lot off my shoulder when my child finally got fed and stopped crying,

  6. Thank you so much for this article. One of the most important tips to add to this article is time. Like adults, babies too need to explore the new feeding habits before fully committing to it. Giving them that time will enable them transition smoothly.

    Also, when it comes to timing, one little tip that usually helps with the transition is to ensure that you time your baby bottle feeding while giving yourself enough time to do it properly. Allowing your baby to feed slowly will also help her/him to explore different feeding positions and this will help the baby ease to bottle feeding. Another advantage to this is that you can try different feeding positions for your baby if you discover that your baby is disinterested but not distressed and you need to feed him/her at that point. But remember, when your baby starts to cry when you try it, it’s best to stop and try again at another time.
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