When it came to breastfeeding, nobody told me…
1. That the day my milk came in I would wake up with my shirt completely soaked, and for several days afterwards.
Also, that your milk doesn’t come in immediately, especially if it’s your first baby. Your breasts will produce colostrum first, then milk later.
Your milk will come in fully after several days but it can take a week or more so you may have to supplement with formula. Hand-pumping can make your milk come in faster, too.
2. That I would go from a size B to a D, and back down again in a matter of hours.
And unfortunately, breastfeeding is not the time to go without a bra. You’ll be leaking for so long that you’ll want a bra to sleep in so you don’t end up in a puddle!
This varies between women, though – some don’t leak that much at all.
3. That the first two weeks of nursing would be extremely painful, even though I know my technique was right.
Once you get used to it, though, breastfeeding should not be painful. If it hurts, it’s usually due to a latch issue, and you might be able to use a nipple cover to help your breasts and your baby adjust.
4. That I would get so cracked and sore that my curious 3 yr. old would ask me if the baby was drinking blood!
Also, don’t be surprised if your baby pulls off and starts spitting up blood. It’s not her blood, it’s yours – and no, it’s probably not going to hurt her.
5. That these two products would save me tons on agony: Lanolin and Soothies.
They are WONDERFUL! I gave them both to my sister when she had her baby.
6. That I needed the baby to nurse, just as much as he needed me! Can you spell ENGORGEMENT!
I was also incredibly surprised by the “fire hose” effect that seemed to take over when my baby pulled off the breast. I was not prepared for that kind of mess!
7. That there aren’t many public places that will accommodate a nursing mother.
Try nursing your baby in a public restroom with no chair to sit in. Fun!
Luckily, once you start breastfeeding, you probably won’t care as much about having your nipples out in the open.
8. That at first, trying to pump milk was like trying to get juice from a banana!
You’re lucky if you get a few drops.
9. That my entire day would revolve around this one person’s hunger.
It takes a long time to nurse a newborn, especially if you have one that is constantly falling asleep at the breast!
It will take you about an hour to do a feeding if you count diaper changes and clothing changes. If you’re pumping, you’ll have to tack that on, too!
10. That I would be able to sleep nurse successfully!
11. That I would learn to twist my body into uncomfortable positions at times in order to nurse my baby in cramped spaces (try an airplane seat!).
12. That my long hair would come in handy to cover embarrassing leakage in public. I suggest you keep nursing pads close by!
*By the way, as I was typing this discovered that nursing pads also make great coasters!
13. That tongue tie is a real problem, and it’s not my fault.
14. That breastfeeding can lead to isolation, especially at first. If you’re not comfortable with people like extended family seeing your breasts, and you don’t want to (or can’t use) covers, you may end up in separate rooms a lot of time.
15. That it sometimes takes two hands. This one can be a tough pill to swallow for someone who plans on working part-time or full-time from home while breastfeeding an infant!
Although it gets easier to nurse onehanded as your baby gets older – and as you gain more experience – it takes two hands (at least!) when you’re first getting started.
BUT keep in mind that, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to breastfeed and do multiple tasks at once. You might be able to work at your computer, prepare dinner, put a child to bed, or even help with homework – all while nursing!
16. That letdown is a super weird feeling – and it’s different for everyone. For some people, you’ll feel a pins-and-needles feeling.
For others, it’s more like a tingling or burning. Your boobs will let you know when it’s time to nurse – trust me, you don’t need a clock!
17. That it’s not as easy to stop breastfeeding as you might think. Once your baby quits breastfeeding, it can be so devastating!
You might find yourself totally unprepared for the emotions that follow. Other times, you might want to give up. It’s okay to give up, but just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. You’re not wrong to want your freedom back!
18. That it takes a TON of energy.
Sure, it’s a great way to lose the baby weight, but if you aren’t eating well or you’re not drinking enough water, it can totally sap your energy. It burns around 500 calories a day – more if you’re nursing multiples!
Oh, and trust me – you’ll be just as hungry (if not more so) as you were when you pregnant. Not the time to diet, let me tell you!
19. That spit-up still happens.
Lots of doctors will advocate for breastfeeding as it reduces the incidence of spit up. However, it still happens. There can still be some digestive issues, too!
20. That your back will likely be killing you.
Not only are your boobs huge now, but your neck, shoulders, and back might hurt because you’re always bent over to breastfeed, plus you’re bending over to pick up your baby at other times of the day, too.
21. That it can be tough to find the right position.
It will take you countless tries to find the right breastfeeding position for you and your baby. Once you do, though, it will go much more smoothly.
A nursing pillow can help you find the right position and you can equip it with a burp cloth if your baby spits up.
22. That cluster feeding sucks.
Cluster feeding, which is when your baby wants to eat every single hour (or sometimes more often) can really hurt. It not only puts a serious dent in your freedom, but it also kills your nipples.
23. That I needed a new, separate breastfeeding attire.
It can be tough to feed when you can’t get your shirt unbuttoned enough to free your boob. Note that you don’t necessarily need nursing bras, though. Plenty of women just wear sports bras while they are nursing their babies.
What is worth the investment, though, is a good p umping bra. These are also often nursing bras, so you can make the most of your time and money.
If you get a pumping bra, just make sure it’s snug enough to hold the pump in place for the best suction.
24. That the more the baby eats, the more milk you produce.
If you’re able to pump between nursing sessions, you will signal to your breasts that they need to produce more milk, even after the milk comes in.
Your milk levels and nutrients will fluctuate, though, at different times of the day. At night, the breast milk will have more melatonin to help your baby sleep, and if you’re sick, the breastmilk will contain antibodies to help the baby not get sick, too.
25. That you need to be prepared for thrush.
Thrush causes a white patch in your baby’s mouth and is a fungal infection. You can prevent it by making sure all bottles and pacifiers are sterilized. You should also use dry, cotton nipple pads and let your breasts air dry after showering and nursing.
26. That weaning can be difficult.
Babies don’t always wean on their own, so you might need to wean for them. Your baby might become clingy and wake in the middle of the night wanting to nurse. Just do whatever is right for you and your baby.
27. That you need to take advantage of your support systems.
Make sure you see a lactation specialist so you can ensure your baby is eating enough. You might also want to join a mom’s group, which will help you get support during the super tough days of breastfeeding.
28. That you should try not to skip any feedings.
Sure, life gets in the way – but it’s important to stick to a feeding schedule in that first month or so after your baby is born.
Not only can skipping feedings lead to mastitis (for you) or thrush (for the baby) but it can also confuse your boobs as they won’t know how much milk to produce.
29. That some babies never learn to take a bottle.
If you want to supplement with bottles of pumped breast milk – and let Dad take over so Mom can take a break – know that your baby just might not take them.
30. That you’ll have to rethink your shower routine.
Be careful using shower gels and bar soaps – they can dry out your painful skin even more!
31. That there are apps to help you out.
You read that right! If you’re one of those tech-savvy moms out there, you should take advantage of the many apps that will help you manage how long and how often your baby feeds at each breast.
32. That you might not need birth control for a while.
If you are breastfeeding exclusively, there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to get pregnant for some time. But don’t rely on breastfeeding as your exclusive form of birth control, as it can still happen!
But most importantly: That I would never feel such a fulfilling, rewarding joy as knowing that I was able to personally sustain and nourish my beautiful child. I wouldn’t trade it for all the formula in the world!
updated 04/26/2020 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.