Teen mothers face many pressures both from themselves and from society. They may be nervous, or people around them may doubt their ability to breastfeed. But if you are able to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term, then your body is ready and able to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t always mean it is easy. No matter how old you are, you will need good breastfeeding information and support through the early weeks and beyond. The support of a nearby La Leche League Leader can make a big difference. It’s okay to ask for help particularly with breastfeeding. Women have always learned this skill from each other. You were never meant to figure it out on your own.
If you are a breastfeeding mother in your teen years, it is important to remember that your own body is still growing and developing. It is normal to feel hungry when you breastfeed. You probably need to eat more than older mothers to support your own growth as well as that of your breastfeeding baby. You will also need more sleep, and this can be hard with a baby to care for. Learning to breastfeed safely lying down can make a huge difference in your ability to meet your sleep needs and your baby’s feeding needs at the same time. For more information see Sleep and the Breastfeeding Family.
As a young mother, you might face some specific challenges like coordinating school or work with being a mother. It may be helpful to make a plan while you are pregnant for time off, independent study at home, support at your school or a combination of these options. If you want to breastfeed your baby, the school system should support you in your decision. You have the right to breastfeed your baby anywhere you are allowed to be. For more information see Your Right to Breastfeed Your Baby in Public.
Of course, you will want to spend time with your friends. This can be difficult for any new mother, particularly if her friends do not also have babies. In the early days, it might be hard to find time to go out because you are focusing on establishing breastfeeding and getting to know your baby. It may be easiest to ask friends to stop by at a particular time of day for an hour, for instance to bring you a snack or have lunch with you. Later you can ask friends to join you on a walk or gather as a group at your house where you can hang out and be with your baby at the same time. In time, you’ll discover other “mom friends” who understand what you are going through.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, you are a mother! You will learn a lot about yourself as well as your baby, and find you are capable of things you didn’t imagine. Unfortunately, because you are young some people may feel that you want or need to listen to their advice. It can be helpful to have a few close people whom you admire as parents to ask questions. Also see Dealing with Thoughtless Remarks for ideas on how to respond to unwanted advice.
If you have any questions about breastfeeding you can contact your nearest La Leche League Leader for information and support.
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Updated August 2022