I felt like an instant failure at breastfeeding

Just because you have a set of breasts doesn’t mean you will know how to use them to feed your baby. It’s okay to ask for help.

I felt like an instant failure at breastfeeding

I thought breastfeeding was going to be easy. To be honest I didn’t give it much thought. To be really honest, it never even crossed my mind.

Then my daughter arrived. Hungry. Okay, no problem. Here you go. Here we go. Good cry, mouth is open. Perfect. Here it comes… No?

I was instantly a failure.

Congratulations. It was day one. How was she going to eat?

I wish someone told me when I was taking my hypnobirthing class that there’s no breathing exercise to induce a nice “latch.”

I wish when I was stressing out over which wall decal to choose for the nursery, someone would have mentioned I needed to figure out how my boob was going to transfer the milk into my child’s body—because I can’t squirt it in.

I wish someone told me I would be obsessing forever over how much she ate and how much milk I was producing.

(Oh, and by the way, your body won’t produce a single drop of milk for a couple days after delivery. Don’t worry, you’ll make little dribbles of colostrum that are more than enough nourishment for your newborn.)

I wish someone warned me how vulnerable I would feel needing my husband to help latch and unlatch, as I breathed through the tears.

(Actually, it was nice discovering him taking care of me, protecting my nipples from our little baby shark.)

I wish someone told me that I would look back on that initial pain and smile—that it would be the first thing we would figure out together.

Just because you have a set of breasts doesn’t mean you will know how to use them to feed your baby. It’s okay to ask for help.

I was terrified that my daughter wasn’t eating enough and gaining enough weight. I spoke and met with lactation consultants weekly. I literally would walk into their office, weigh my child, feed my child, and then weigh her again to learn how much milk she was able to transfer.

Those ladies got right in those milk makers and showed me what’s up. I remember being told it should be like my daughter was taking a big bite of a hamburger and putting her whole mouth over my areola. Well, that explained why each nipple was cracked… she was trying to suck the milk out like it was a straw.

Even with the inside info, it still took about a month for my daughter to latch like a champ and for us to get into our groove. Learning from the lactation experts, removing some of the pressure I put on myself, and practicing every few hours with my little teammate is what helped us find our rhythm.

Looking back, I wish I didn’t put so many expectations on myself. Instead of just being present with my baby, I would worry about why I wasn’t better at this, why my left boob seemed less full, or how many bags of breast milk I had stockpiled in the freezer. It became a mini obsession.

Breastfeeding is such a brief window, whether you do it for two weeks or two years. Embrace your journey because the next thing you know, the page will turn and eventually breastfeeding will be just a memory.

Looking back, I would tell myself it’s okay to feel a little (lot) lost, to not be good at this. I would say: You’re not alone. You are learning. In real time. No practice rounds. So please be kind to yourself.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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