4 Words Every Breastfeeding Mother Needs To Hear

Yesterday, my daughter and I bumped into an old friend.

I say friend, but I don’t mean it in the way that likely springs to mind.  I’ve never been to her house or met her family and I couldn’t even tell you if she has any pets.

But still, she is a friend.  A dear, trusted and valued friend.

You see, this is the woman who came to my home when my daughter was just 4 days old.  This is the woman who sat by my side and listened.  This is the woman who spoke with soft reassurance and whose eyes never once darted to the clock on the wall.

As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter’s first few weeks were a smudgy haze of love and confusion; of delight and shock.  And sure enough, I don’t remember much of what my lactation consultant told me.  I know that she sat with me and we talked in-depth about positioning and latch, but at the time, I was floating somewhere between disbelief and So-Help-Me-God-Nipple-Pain, so most of her words didn’t entrench themselves far into my subconscious.

Yet there were four words that somehow managed to fix themselves into my memory.  Four truly powerful words that have stood the test of time:

“You can do this.”

These words, delivered so honestly and simply that I almost missed them, were nothing but music to my ears.  I knew at the time that these words were important; life-changing and memorable.  I remember repeating them to myself over and over as if to cement them into my head…into my heart.  These are words that can sometimes be thrown around without sincerity, but in this instance they were whispered just softly enough to turn a head, to take a breath and to allow me to actually believe.

There have been several believe moments to date in my daughter and I’s breastfeeding journey, but this was the first; the Original.  Our struggles, unfortunately, didn’t end after those first few whirlwind weeks…we fought recurring mastitis, endless blocked ducts, an almost-unbelievable duration of cracked/blistered nipples, nursing aversion, engorgement, and (unsurprisingly) tongue-tie.  But at each and every hurdle, in the depths and despair of the darkness I once called night, I told myself over and over… “you can do this.”

And so did the lactation consultants who I reached out to for help, time and time again.

You can do this.”

And so did the mothers – the virtual mothers – that I found at 2am, chatting in text and emoticons via the dim glow of my phone screen.

“You can do this.”

And so did my daughter; with her huge eyes and beaming smile; with her sheer contentment at the breast.  At my breast.  Because I can do this.

We can do this.”

I call this woman a friend because she stood by me when I needed help.  She believed I could run when I could barely walk…both metaphorically and literally.

She was the first of many friendships formed at the breast and she marked the first of many believe moments.  Whether the encouragement is coming from a computer screen, an article or the listening stranger with kind eyes sat beside us, believe moments have the power to change lives.

I won’t ever forget her kind smile or her empowering words and I hope, so very, very much, that if we all listen hard enough, we’ll hear a chorus of mothers across the globe…softly singing…“We can do this.”

Thank you to Mama Kate, for allowing me to use her picture for this piece.  For more photos in celebration of breastfeeding and motherhood, join the Mama Bean village on Facebook!

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