The 5 stages of learning to breastfeed

There was never a question about whether or not I would nurse my baby. Nine years ago, when I had my first child, breastfeeding came naturally to me. Baby girl latched on quickly, and we experienced 19 blissful, milk filled months of nursing. I had a feeling things would be different this go round. I’m quite a bit older, and I know that each child is different. Before my son even came into the world, I started going through the five stages of learning to breastfeed.

Stage 1 – Apprehension

Before I started nursing, I started planning to breastfeeding. Stage One is where most of the nursing research happens. Reading about cracked nipples, tied tongues, and babies who won’t latch can make a gal feel super nervous about the responsibility of feeding a baby. The best way to get through this stage is to trust that you’ve learned all that you can, and try to relax before the baby arrives.

Stage 2 – Anxiety

Once you actually start nursing the baby, the anxiety starts to creep in. I was worried that my baby wasn’t getting enough milk, and that he was nursing too often. My nipples weren’t used to having a hungry infant on them, so they were sore and made me nervous about putting him on. I had so many concerns that I called the doctor’s answering service and lactation counselor several times during his first week of life. They were used to it. Keep a lactation counselor on speed dial during this stage. You’ll need it.

Stage 3 – Determination

After several nights of my son crying and trying to latch on for an hour each time I nursed him, I was ready for a change. I took a deep breath, literally counted to ten, and placed him on my nipple. I was determined that nursing was going to work out, and that it wasn’t going to continue to stress us out. It took a few more days of breathing and pushing through the anxiety for nursing to become second nature to us, but we did it. We really did it!

Stage 4 – Confidence

Once I got the hang of nursing baby boy, my confidence soared. I could leave the house because I knew how to manage if he got hungry while we were out! We were on a schedule! I could pump and make bottles because now I know how to nurse! I could barely even remember the apprehension I felt in the beginning of this process. The memories of my baby screaming for milk for upwards of an hour while I struggled to get him to latch are just about faded away. I was 100% a breastfeeding mama.


The other morning, I woke up and my son was latched on to my breast. I remembered putting him on a few hours earlier, but I had no recollection of pulling him off. Was he latched on for hours? Did he unlatch and find my nipple again on his own while I was asleep? I have no idea. I’m so good at this breastfeeding thing that I can now do it in my sleep! That, my friends, is a nursing goddess!