32 Things Nobody Told Me about Breastfeeding

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!

breastfeeding pin

updated 04/26/2020 by Rebekah Pierce

10 thoughts on “32 Things Nobody Told Me about Breastfeeding”

  1. I know I am way behind on this post, but silicon breast pads are WONDERFUL! They can be washed with a little dish soap, and no leakage at all. So much nicer than cloth or, “gasp” disposable nursing pads.

  2. I am generally a very modest person, but I had no desire to hide away for a year after my first son was born, so I became addicted to ponchos that I knitted myself. I made several out of cute yarn (there are entire books of patterns for ponchos and wraps), and they were a wonderful solution for when I needed to nurse in public. I wore them over a camisole top that allowed easy access for my son, and we nursed whenever he needed, without me feeling the least bit exposed. They make great baby shower gifts, with an explanation, lol. I considered it one of the perks of being pregnant, I had an undeniable justification for buying a few skeins of that wonderfully soft fancy yarn I always want!

  3. It’s a bit weird, but my husband and I fence and I found a pair of nursing pads worked great as cushions for my ‘hub-cap’ style breast protectors! lol I love the fact that they wash so easily.

  4. Cabbage leaves in the bra work wonders for engorgement…and the number one reason why new mothers end up with sore nipples if because everyone is always telling them their baby needs to eat more…every mother and baby are different…when I had my first son they told me I had to nurse for 20 to 30 minutes on each side…after horrible pain and almost giving up I realized that he had me empty in less than 10 and the older he got the quicker he got so he was just using me as a pacifier for the remaining 20 minutes no wonder why I was so sore…what did I know…Now I say listen to your own body and your baby…

    and about nursing in the bathroom…I would never…I sat down on the floor in the baby section of Walmart and nursed son #2 (he was a demanding nurser every 2 hours on the dot) I wouldn’t eat in a bathroom I sure wouldn’t feed my child there either…you can still be modest and feed your baby in public fully covered and decent and so what if someone knows what you are doing they don’t hide in the bathroom to eat their tuna on rye… (sorry just sayin…)

  5. Nobody told me the painful part either! I was not sucessful in breastfeeding until my third child. Even though I know! my technique was right and was also told so by an observing lactation consultant! The nurses left the room after the birth of my first child and said looks like you know what you are doing! Ouch it hurt for three months no joke. We did get through it and I ended up nursing him until approx 15 months old. The thing I did to get through it was just say to my I am nursing you this time and I did not worry about tomorrow I just faced it one nursing at a time (and kicked the coffee table when he would latch on) I knew it was best for him and me in so many ways and it did turn out to be a wonderful thing. I wish someone had told me how difficult it can be just so I would have known. Even with really rough starts, I would whole heartidly recomend breast feeding!
    Blessings to you and your family.

    Something the lactation consultant in the hospital told me to do was put on a warm (wet) tea bag after nursing. Something about the tanins in tea help healing. check with your health care professional about this, but it did wonders for me. I did not hear about it until my third child.

  6. Add this one:

    That nursing each child is always different. You learn a little as you go but each one surprises you with something new.

  7. I know that you’ve gotten much more experience since this article was written, but nursing in public was always a big concern until I purchase some tops from Motherwear.com. I highly recommend these tops and have nursed in public situations numerous times.

    One of my friends, who was super-sensitive to public nursing, commented that I’d need to go to the car to nurse one evening when we were dining together. I told her that the baby was already nursing, she just about fell over. She said that if he was already nursing, I didn’t need to go anywhere and she wanted to see that top later.


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