You've just given birth. You're tired and in pain, but nothing can extinguish the overwhelming feeling of love, joy and pride at seeing your baby for the first time. You did it! You're officially a mother! Your baby snuggles up to you, waiting for the first drops of your life-giving nectar. You help them latch on and they start nursing\u2014but nothing comes out. You might start to panic. You're alone in the maternity ward with a hungry baby and no professional help in sight. For a vast majority of women, the above scenario is all too familiar. There may be different problems, at different times, but the feeling remains the same. Hopelessness, despair, possibly even shame. But remember, mummies, you have not failed as a mother just because breastfeeding doesn't come naturally to you. In honour of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we here at Motherhood will be highlighting some of the things about breastfeeding that likely no one talks about, and why it's important to bring them to light. In order to do so, we asked our Malaysian mums over on Instagram about what they wished they knew before breastfeeding and here are just some of the answers they shared: What Mums Wished They Knew Before Breastfeeding Preparation Is Key There has been more push towards more public awareness on breastfeeding in recent years, including among expectant mums. But even then, many women lack the resources, guidance and knowledge to properly prepare for breastfeeding. Many of us may have fallen under the illusion that when the time comes, it will happen naturally, effortlessly. But that's not the case. At least, not for many mums. Probably one of the more major issues related to breastfeeding is insufficient milk supply. Contrary to popular belief, not all women automatically start expressing after childbirth. Many mums actually end up having to give their babies formula because they are unable to produce breast milk. However, just because formula exists, doesn't mean you should give up trying to breastfeed. This is why it's so important for mums to start addressing their breastfeeding issues before the baby comes. Especially if you haven't started expressing a few weeks into the second trimester of your pregnancy, or at the very least when you're close to your due date. Most women might wait until after delivery to start worrying about lactation, but by then it may be too late. Your Breastfeeding Journey Won't be Smooth Just like most things about motherhood, breastfeeding has been given an idealistic veneer that camouflages the actual truth about the practice. Because it's such an intimate, personal activity, not many mums necessarily want to share their experience with the world. Not when it seems like they've 'failed' as a mother. And especially not when it paints a negative picture on the act of breastfeeding itself, despite overwhelming evidence in support of breastfeeding and breast milk. As previously mentioned, many mums may resort to formula when they find themselves unable to produce enough breast milk. This can be nothing short of heart-breaking if you've been told for years that breastmilk should be the first thing your baby eats after being born. But this is a harmful expectation to perpetuate. Yes, breast milk is the inarguably the best nutrition for newborns, but giving them formula in the meantime does not make you a bad mother. Breastfeeding Takes Commitment There is so much societal pressure with getting your breastfeeding perfect right off the bat, which can also cause some mums to experience 'performance anxiety'. We'd like to believe those heavily doctored photos of happy, new mums nursing their babies on pristine, snow-white hospital beds. But while those images are important for advocating, encouraging and motivating the practice of breastfeeding, they can propagate some unhealthy expectations and myths. At the end of the day, you need to have a strong reason to want to breastfeed your child that goes beyond tradition or culture. But if you've done your research, you're probably well aware of the many benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding. That alone should give you plenty of reasons to commit to the practice. Breastfeeding Demystified Breastfeeding can be difficult for a lot of mums; it can often be a bumpy road fraught with mistakes and misconceptions. That is why it's important to demystify the practice of breastfeeding, so that expectant and prospective mums can educate themselves in advance and avoid the common pitfalls. You May Not Automatically Produce Breast Milk After Childbirth There are many reasons why a mother doesn't automatically lactate after childbirth; stress, age, pollution. But it can also be caused by endocrine disorders, underlying health conditions like hypertension and diabetes, as well as certain types of medication. Many new mums might resort to certain types of lactation supplements (also called galactagogues) in order to increase their breast milk supply. However, some of these alternative treatments have little to no scientific basis and many conventional drugs can cause unpleasant side effects like nausea, vomiting, and even fainting. However, experts generally agree that breast stimulation is the best way to induce lactation. According to gynaecologist and obstetrician, Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar, some ways that a new mum can increase her breast milk supply is through breast compressions, feeding with both breasts, and breastfeeding on demand. Breast milk is produced on demand, so the more baby drinks, the more Mummy will produce. - Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar Manual expression\/stimulation (hand expressing or massage) seems to be first step to inducing breast milk in mothers who have trouble lactating after childbirth. This is then followed by regular breast pumping and nursing to keep the milk flowing. It's also important to drink lots of water, get plenty of rest and consume balanced meals. You should ideally induce lactation a week or two before delivery and freeze any breast milk that you make for the future (this will most likely be in the form of colostrum). Frozen, virgin breast milk stores for a long time (6 to 12 months). But once you get your milk flowing, you'll definitely have no problems breastfeeding your newborn straight after delivery. After that, just use up the breast milk you expressed in advance via bottle feeding. Breastfeeding and Lactation Can Be Uncomfortable Discomfort is one thing many people may not talk about when it comes to breastfeeding and lactation. Breastfeeding should never be painful, but it's not exactly pain-free either.\u00a0 Not only from complications like blocked ducts, mastitis or infection (yes, some women actually get sick from lactation issues) but also from just the normal, everyday things like breast pumping to induce lactation. Many mums report feeling sensations of tingling, pin-pricks, and engorgement during lactation, usually as a result of your body getting used to producing breastmilk for the first time. You may also feel some discomfort during the first few days as your baby gets better at nursing. This is normal. But all in all, breastfeeding should never be painful for the mother or the child. If you're starting to feel feverish, tenderness, aching, or other problems, it's best to consult a physician immediately. There is also the problem of chafing, cracked or sore nipples, usually happening as a result of incorrect latching\u2014which brings us to the next point. Your Baby May Not Latch on Naturally the First Time While it's true that some babies are naturally gifted at feeding from the breast, others may not. This usually means the mother will need to learn how to properly manoeuvre her baby to optimise breastfeeding, which is not an overnight thing. Mastering the correct breastfeeding positions to encourage proper latching is a steep learning curve. Having a breastfeeding assistant or counsellor can definitely accelerate your success, but many mums are also self-taught if the instructions they read are adequate enough. It's also important to note that if you can't make breastfeeding work for you and your baby, bottle-feeding your baby breast milk is completely acceptable. In fact, it should be normalised. Especially if you need to give yourself a break from all the frustrating trials and errors. Your baby needs to eat, after all. Yes, there's a small chance that your baby may get used to the bottle and not want to breastfeed naturally anymore, but if you're persistent and patient, you may just be able to overcome those odds. Keep the Conversation Going Honestly speaking, breastfeeding can be a bittersweet experience. But many mums agree that the trials and tribulations are worth it, especially once you learn the wonderful benefits it has for your baby. And breastfeeding also allows mum and baby to bond in a way that's special like no other. Learning some, practical, real-life tips from other experienced mums (aside from your own, of course), can also be a great life saver. So, if you have some good stories and tips to share, please do so. You never know who may benefit from your wisdom. As a final note, it's also important to ask your hospital if they provide lactation consultation or assistance before you decide to give birth there. This is as some hospitals don't offer the service unless you paid for it in the form of maternity packages. In the meantime, trust your body, have a reliable support system and do plenty of research. Hang in there, mummies\u2014you'll be a breastfeeding pro in no time! Mummies, don\u2019t miss out on your chance to get limited Motherhood.com.my vouchers today by casting your Motherhood Choice Awards 2022 votes\u00a0here! For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to\u00a0Motherhood Story!