Guest Blog from LaTisha Cotto
I was a formula-fed baby. Pretty much everyone in my entire family has been a formula-fed baby. However, I always knew that when I had my baby, I wanted to breastfeed or at least attempt to do so. While I was pregnant, I read constantly about the benefits of breastfeeding for both mama and little, and it made me even more determined to try.
I decided I would take my time with my breastfeeding experience. I set the intention of breastfeeding for one year. If I didn’t make it, I would be okay with it, but I would certainly try my best. It would be our first time ever trying it, and I was not going to get impatient or frustrated with a baby who had just entered the world and a new mama who really had no clue what she was doing.
One thing I didn’t anticipate is how much discouragement breastfeeding mamas can receive, even from their loved ones. My own family repeatedly hinted at the possibility that my milk might not come in or that my baby might not latch. “Your cousin tried breastfeeding, but she got mastitis and had to stop.”
Ummmm, ok? I was never really sure how to respond to those types of comments. It was downright frustrating for me, especially since I had all those hormones swirling through my body.
As a Master Life Coach and Motivational Speaker, I am very aware of the power our thoughts and words have in creating our reality.
I don’t think my family realized what they were saying to me and how it affected me. I suppose in their minds, they were trying to prepare me for the possibility that breastfeeding might not happen for me; it was their way of protecting me. I came to the conclusion that I was simply going down a path that they had never been down before.
Come what may, I was determined to give breastfeeding my best shot and to release the outcome to the Universe.
During those first hours of recovery after my C-section, I attempted to nurse Lyric, my beautiful baby girl, for the first time. When she didn’t latch, I calmly thought, “Okay. One latch at a time. We will get this. It’s our first time. We will literally have thousands of times to try this. I have faith. I know she can do this. I know I can do this.”
Later, when we got to our room, she latched on, and off we went. I had no clue what I was really doing. I’m so thankful for Gail, the hospital’s lactation consultant. She made me feel very comfortable as I asked her questions, and she shared helpful tips and information. I’ll never forget how she set Lyric up in the football feeding position with all of the bed pillows. She made me feel like I was capable of the daunting task before me.
When we got home from the hospital, I felt alone in my journey. My family was there and they were super helpful during my recovery, but they had no idea what it meant to breastfeed. Cluster feeds, changing poo colors and consistencies, different feeding positions – it was all foreign to them. At every turn, they hinted at changing to formula or taking Lyric to the hospital because something was surely wrong with her.
I realized that if I wanted to stick with breastfeeding and maintain a steady milk supply, I had to get my head in the game.
So I turned to the power of mantras to help me out. Here are three reasons mantras have helped me maintain my milk supply:
1) Mantras point us in the direction we want to go.
A mantra is a statement repeated several times. The word literally means “mind vehicle.” Mantras (also known as affirmations) are powerful in helping us create our reality because they are sentences that point us in the direction we want to go.
In order to create the life of our dreams, we have to be intentional with our thoughts; we literally have to think on purpose. We all have self-limiting beliefs and negative thoughts (some that we aren’t even aware of) floating around in our brain. Reciting a mantra is a way of injecting positivity into our minds and changing the narrative in our head about what’s going on in our lives.
Each time I nurse, I recite mantras in my mind and sometimes out loud (if it’s not too distracting for Lyric). I have found Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life to be filled with beautiful affirmations that make me feel good.
I am determined to create a beautiful, harmonious, nursing environment for Lyric and myself. I know that this, in part, is a reason for our success. Any discouragement or doubts – from my family or even myself – simply do not matter. This is our time.
2) Mantras remind us to give thanks.
Mantras have put me in the mind frame of gratitude. I have learned to give thanks – to my body, my God, my daughter – for each latch. We all work together to nourish her. It truly is a beautiful experience and one I will cherish forever.
I exclusively breastfed Lyric for the first six weeks: no pumping, no pacifiers, no bottles. I now know that I could’ve introduced those things earlier, but at the time, I didn’t want to jinx anything. I am learning to trust my intuition and do what feels right for me and my baby, despite the gazillion opinions floating around the internet and in my personal circle.
When I finally started pumping, I realized that I had a set amount of time just for me. I used this time to my advantage; I decided to recite mantras from Louise’s book out loud and in front of the mirror if one was available to me.
I still start each pumping session with, “I begin this pumping session filled with gratitude, joy, love, and milk. My milk flows freely and easily. My milk supply is as abundant as the ocean waters. I am tapped into the infinite supply of milk the Universe offers.”
I also take the time to bless everything – the resources I use to pump, the time I’m pumping, the milk my body creates, and most of all, my daughter.
It may sound silly, but honey bunny, when you’re trying to create a stash of stored milk, you will try anything. I’ve tried the cookies and the teas, so why not mantras? Why not use the time to bless my daughter and speak into reality all of the things I want?
3) Mantras remind us to honor the body we have.
Although I don’t have the physique of my pre-baby days, mantras have helped me make peace with this softer, curvier body that nourishes my baby and is her safe haven when the world is too much.
Also, I don’t take for granted the ability to breastfeed. I know that there are mamas out there who would love to but can’t. To them, I say #fedisbest. There are a million reasons to feel guilty, but I am a firm believer that breastfeeding should not be one of them. I still use the mantra “One latch/pumping session at a time” every single day.
Furthermore, I have learned to honor the output of every single pumping session, whether it’s 2 or 12 ounces.
Every single drop of breast milk is precious and a reminder that a mother’s body is a miracle. We are the portal through which life enters this world and we have been given the ability to nourish our babies.
Being a mom is tough, and we’ve got to give ourselves the gift of our own compassion. We have to honor the fact that we are all doing the best we can with what we have, breastfeeding or not. I’m pretty certain we are all doing a lot better than we give ourselves credit for.
Mantras have proven to be beneficial for me, specifically for breastfeeding, and in general, for all things motherhood related. We, mamas, are faced with so many challenges when it comes to raising our kids, and breastfeeding mamas, in particular, do battle daily with discouragement, social stigmas, going back to work and maintaining milk supply, teething babies (ouch!), loneliness, etc. We’ve got to guard our minds against negative thinking, and we’ve got to think on purpose. It’s very important that we support ourselves with the power of our thoughts.
Here are a couple of the mantras I created to maintain my milk supply:
- My milk flows freely and easily.
- My milk supply is as abundant as the ocean waters.
- I thank you, Body, for nourishing my baby and me.
- Every cell in my baby’s body is divinely healthy.
And here are some more beautiful affirmations from Louise Hay:
- My baby is divinely protected and surrounded by love. We claim mental immunity.
- My baby’s future is bright, joyous, and secure.
- Harmony, peace, love, and joy surround and dwell in me. I am safe and secure.
- I love and approve of myself.
- I am totally open and receptive to the abundant flow of prosperity the Universe offers.
- I bring peace to every corner of my life.
I’m proud to report that, at the time of this writing, Lyric and I have been on our breastfeeding journey for 286 days. Will we make it to one year or more? I honestly don’t know, but we take everything day by day, latch by latch, pumping session by pumping session. This experience has taught me to live in the moment and to actively cultivate peace and harmony in my life. For this, I am grateful.
Now it’s your turn. Comment below and share what tools and/or practices have helped you in your breastfeeding journey.
I am cheering for you. Like you are a true miracle.
From the Front Row,
LaTisha Cotto is a Master Life Coach and Motivational Speaker based out of Waco, Texas. She helps people take center stage in their own lives by reminding them of their innate worthiness and brilliance. When she's not life coaching it up, she's hanging with her daughter, Lyric, and her Chiweenie, Presley. You can check her out at latishacotto.com.