There’s a lot of things that can side-swipe you when you become a mum, and the realities of breastfeeding is one of them. For many mums, the effort, time and emotion involved with getting breastfeeding on track can be a massive shock. With the long feeding sessions and frenzied cluster feeds that can accompany early motherhood, breastfeeding can make you feel like you’re chained to your baby – and the couch – for the best part of the day. Add to that the anxiety and tears while your nipples get to know your baby’s mouth, and you’ve got a pretty intense time.
But guess what? You’ve actually been down this path before, and you’ve nailed it. Remember your first day at work? When you arrived at a new place, all nerves and low-confidence, slowly learnt the ropes and eventually found your feet? I put it to you that starting out with breastfeeding is similar to starting a new, very important job, and that the two experiences actually have a lot in common.
While a demanding new job can be a bit of a shock to the system, eventually you find your groove and figure out what you’re doing. You find the work takes less time, gets easier overall, and that you even start to enjoy it, once you know what’s what. It’s a similar journey with breastfeeding.
Here are five ways breastfeeding is like starting a new job:
1. It takes up a big portion of the day
You probably spent a good 8 hours a day in your last job, and the time you spend breastfeeding your new baby will quickly add up to similar. A newborn will spend between 20 and 45 minutes at each feed, and need around 8 feeds a day. Add to that time for cuddles, winding and mid-feed nappy changes and you’re likely to clock up the equivalent of a full day’s work in those early weeks. But don’t fret. Unlike a real life job, this one is strictly temporary.
2. It involves a whole lot of learning
Just like with starting at a new place of work, there can be a lot to learn when it comes to breastfeeding, and this can be overwhelming at first. Getting the position and latch right, and knowing if your baby is feeding adequately can be a steep learning curve. But remember when you finally got the hang of your first big challenge in your last job? Breastfeeding requires the same level of practice and persistence, and it doesn’t hurt to throw some supportive camaraderie in there too.
3. There’s new jargon to master
With new lines of work comes all the terminology you need to get to grips with. In your last job, you no doubt had to ask what certain words and acronyms referred to before starting to use them confidently yourself. It’s like taking on a new language, and when you start breastfeeding, it’s a similar experience: words like: colostrum’, ‘hindmilk’ and ‘mastitis’ initially sound foreign, but before you know it, you’ll be using them yourself in daily conversation.
4. You meet new people
When you start a new job, it doesn’t take long to connect with people in the same workplace, and starting conversation with them tends to be pretty easy, because you all have something in common. Plus, people typically want to befriend their new colleagues. Breastfeeding offers the same opportunities for friendship and connection. Once you venture into the world of breastfeeding, whole new communities open up to you, where you’ll find scores of other mums happy to swap breastfeeding notes with you and cheer on your journey.
5. Once you get it – you can relax
Remember when you got so good at your job that you could practically do it with your eyes closed – plus find time for Facebook and some online shopping when no one was looking? It’s okay, we’ve all been there. My point is, breastfeeding offers the same perks. When you have things running smoothly, you’ll be amazed at how good you are at this breastfeeding thing. Before you know it, you’ll be getting bub latched on in the dark while you’re half asleep and breastfeeding while you’re getting groceries, or binge-watching the latest Netflix show, like it’s no big deal.