For something so natural, you'd think it would come easily to us and our babies- but breastfeeding is no simple feat. In order to successfully breastfeed, milk production is just as essential as having the determination to do it. Whether it's your first or your sixth time, that first month after birth is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when it comes to nursing a child, with many mothers switching to formula before they see how much better it can become.
Just like birth, there isn't a way to truly prepare for breastfeeding until you experience it yourself. There may be classes and consultants; but at the end of the day, it's something you and your baby have to work together and learn as you go. Many mothers will say they had to give up breastfeeding in the early weeks because their baby couldn't latch, they were never satisfied, the pain was excruciating, and the sleep deprivation was unbearable. All of those reasons are quite relatable to any mother who has breastfed, or attempted to breastfeed.
What many don't realize is in most cases, your baby will learn how to latch, your milk will settle down and regulate to your baby's needs, the nipple pain will subside, and your baby will sleep. They won't be feeding for what feels like hours on end, they won't choke during your letdown, and you won't feel like you're failing your child because of how hard it is. According to Medela, by, "two months, you'll have 500 to 600 feeds under your belt." That's a lot of practice for both you and your baby. By that point, you can practically breastfeed in your sleep! (Although we don't recommend that.)
That being said, for some mothers, it never works. Breastfeeding a child is a selfless act that requires a lot of a person. It's exhausting and demanding, and often times just too much to handle. Breastfeeding is a personal decision because in order for mom to raise a happy and healthy baby, she also needs to be happy and healthy. Just like anything else in this world, breastfeeding is not for everyone- and formula is a healthy alternative for those who medically or mentally can't do it.
But if you can or want to stick it out through that first month, you should know that it does get easier, and the bond created between mother and baby is incomparable. But remember- you are not a failure if you can't breastfeed your baby. What's important is that your child is fed, cared for, and happy.