If you’re a new mom or mom-to-be, you’ve probably heard that you and your baby will develop a special bond during breastfeeding. Then in those first few days or weeks, when you’re exhausted and in pain, you wonder what the heck those people were talking about!
It might not happen immediately, but as someone who has been breastfeeding for over two years, I will tell you that you can and will bond during breastfeeding, if that is your goal. It happens at different times for everyone: for some moms it might truly be instantaneous, for others it might take months.
The first thing you need to know that it is OK if you don’t feel that bond right away. If you’re like me, you might have had some misconceptions about breastfeeding before you had ever tried it.
I made two assumptions about breastfeeding before I even started that turned out to be VERY wrong:
1- I assumed breastfeeding would be easy and getting to a year (my initial goal) would be a simple matter of time. WRONG! Those first few weeks are tough enough to challenge even the most determined mamas. I powered through, but later down the road realized a second thing about which I was very mistaken…
2- I assumed that weaning would be easy and we would stop at one year on the dot with no problem. WRONG! My little one loves her special mommy time and is apparently not going to “just wean herself” like many people told me she would. Turns out, I’ve become a bit more attached than I expected to as well, and have not been pushing the weaning thing. So here we are at two years and counting!
So how did we make it to two years (and still going) of breastfeeding after a very difficult and painful start? Perhaps unintentionally, I did these things that helped my baby and I bond during breastfeeding. These quiet moments between just the two of us are something I treasure and something my little one looks forward to very enthusiastically.
5 Ways to Bond During Breastfeeding
Create a designated nursing spot – I did this out of necessity when I noticed my little one becoming easily distracted during breastfeeding. In the first few weeks after my c-section, I nursed her wherever I was at that moment, but as soon as I was more mobile, we started going into my bedroom when it was time. Going to sit on “mommy’s bed” meant that it was time to nurse.
Alone Time – As I mentioned, my daughter found it hard to focus while nursing, especially in her first year, so when it was that time, everyone else stayed out of the room and kept their volume low. This allowed AB to relax and drift off to sleep. Breastfeeding became a special thing for just the two of us.
Create a special name – My husband’s family is of Mexican descent, and they call baby food “papa.” (At first it was super confusing for me — as a non-native Spanish speaker, papa to me means either potatoes or dad!) But it was catchy, so I soon found myself asking little AB if she wanted “papa” when it was time to nurse. As she learned to talk, she would ask for “papa” when she knew it was getting to be time to nurse, or whenever she thought it should be time!
Avoid distracting yourself – It can be tempting to watch TV or play on your phone or do something to keep busy during nursing sessions, but sometimes it is so rewarding to just be with your baby. Part of the bonding process is being present yourself.
Practice – It’s hard to love breastfeeding when it hurts, as it might in the first few days or weeks. Breastfeeding is like anything else in life, it takes practice to get better at it. As you and your baby get used to each other and find a nursing routine that works for you, it will become easier. Before you know it, you might find that you actually enjoy it!
I can’t emphasize enough that you are not weird if breastfeeding doesn’t seem easy right away! Finding a support group or a lactation consultant in your area can be a lifesaver if you’re struggling (or for figuring out any underlying issues that might have been previously missed).
If you haven’t already, be sure to read my first post about the things I wish I had known about breastfeeding BEFORE I had my baby.
Here are some of my Breastfeeding Essentials:
- Lanolin to protect nipples
- Simple cloth diapers to protect clothes from spit-up, drool, etc. (I tucked them into my bra while she nursed)
- Extra set of pump parts (these are for the Medela Pump in Style Advanced, which worked very well for me)
- Extra set of Medela bottles (the only ones Annabelle would drink from)
- A good nursing bra (This one is so comfortable and even after over a year of use still is in amazing shape!)
- Steam Bags which allow you to quickly & easily sterilize pump & bottle parts and even pacifiers in the microwave (these were a lifesaver when I was working and pumping to keep breastfeeding!)
- Follow-up reading “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League