Okay, so I’ve admitted before I thought breastfeeding would be so easy and natural. I didn’t take a class while I was pregnant with Blaire. Didn’t prep, didn’t do any research. If it was so natural, everything would just work and it’d be just as easy as everyone said it was. Well, that was not exactly the case.
There were so many things I didn’t know with Blaire and a few things I didn’t even hear during my class before Ben was born. I guess some things people just forget to mention (or maybe they intentionally leave them out?!) As my own second breastfeeding journey is winding down, I figured I’d share them with you. Maybe they’ll help you or something you know.
1| It’s hard.
Even if you take the classes, read the books, AND watch the videos. It’s hard. It’s foreign and you’ve never done it before. And that’s okay. You may be one of the lucky unicorns with a baby that easily latches, a supply that’s always perfect, and a baby who never cluster feeds, but you might not be. And that’s normal.
2| Your milk doesn’t come in for a few days.
With Blaire, my milk didn’t come in for about 5 days. With Ben, it was closer to three. Do NOT let anyone freak you out about the amount your baby is eating. If your baby seems content, then please know they are okay. If your baby is unhappy (aka hungry, sleep, or needing change) they’ll let you know! They’re stomachs are so tiny for those first few weeks. It starts off the size of a cherry that first day and progresses to the size of a large egg around two weeks. So just know they don’t need much to feel full.
3| You’re going to leak and your nipples will hurt.
The first time around I think mine were sore for well over a month. Seriously, the worst pain. And I leaked for months! Especially if she went too long without eating overnight. The second time, I’d say they really only hurt for a week or so. And I rarely leaked – but I still did occasionally. And guess what, the time you leave home without the breast pads will probably be the time you hear a random baby cry and randomly let down in middle of a store (or at work, real cool.). So, stock up on both breast pads and nipple cream and don’t look back.
4| Your milk can look different from day to day.
I had NO idea how amazing breastmilk truly is. Yes, I had heard breast is beast, which is why I wanted to try in the first place. (Also, see prices of formula.) But a google search will give you SO MUCH information on the amazing ways your breast milk changes. If you’re sick, your milk knows to give extra antibodies to your baby so he/she hopefully doesn’t get it. If they’re sick, your breast can tell from their saliva (if you are physically nursing and not pumping) and will know to give them extra antibodies then, too. Some days your milk with have more fore milk, which is the fattier part of the milk, and other days it will have more hindmilk. It can even be different colors!
5| If you’re returning to work after your maternity leave, your pump will be your
mortal enemy new BFF.
Ugh, love it or not, your pump will be your best buddy when you have to leave for your baby for more than 3-4 hours at a time. Make sure you learn the best way to use it, since they aren’t always straightforward. And you’ll want to make sure you’re using it properly so you express the most milk possible. And, if you’re not getting much when you’re pumping – don’t worry. Many women don’t respond well to a pump because they are much less efficient than your baby’s mouth. Just stick to a schedule while you’re at work (looking at a baby can help you to have multiple let-downs to get more milk!) and nurse that baby as soon as you get them home from daycare. Or, most reserve a room for nursing mothers – so depending on your commute, it may make sense to nurse them there before you head for home.
6| To be successful, you’ll have to stick to a schedule.
I think it’s different depending on which baby it is. With Blaire, I was a first time mom. Having someone who needed me literally 24/7 was so foreign to me. So having to either be with Blaire when she needed to eat or having to be on a pumping schedule when we were away from each other (on parents-only overnight trips, at work, weddings/receptions where you’re away for more than 4 hours, etc.) and that was something I had never dealt with. Sure, you can try to skip a pumping session, but if you aren’t pumping to make up for the time baby would be eating, then your supply may drop. And you’ll probably end up with sore boobs! With Ben, the whole “being needed 24/7 wasn’t new” but wrangling a toddler and a newborn at the same time was new. Blaire always seemed to need me when I sat down to nurse.
7| Babies can be sensitive or allergic to certain foods you eat.
With Blaire, it seemed like she spit up a lot more whenever I ate anything spicy, so I had to steer clear while she was still nursing. Some babies are sensitive/allergic to caffeine, dairy. So continuing to breastfeed if your baby has a sensitivity or allergy can mean changing your lifestyle.
Chances are you’ve never even heard this word before if you haven’t started preparing beforehand. I had not heard it. Typically babies clusterfeed during growth spurts. They can want to eat every 10 minutes for hours at a time. This is their way of signaling your body to make more milk. And it can be exhausting because 1, you’re awake feeding your baby, & 2, your body is using so much energy to make that precious baby more milk!
9| Not everyone has the same number of working milk ducts. (also #lazyboob)
Okay, so I had definitely never heard of a lazy boob before. It’s one boob that makes less milk than the other. And in my case, on was SERIOUSLY lazy. With Blaire it typically made about half. With Ben, it typically made 1-2 oz at a time. (Boooo) which means they can be vastly different in size, especially when you’re engorged. This can be because everyone has a different number of working milk ducts, which can vary from breast to breast.
At the hospital, you should get to see a Lactation Consultant, who will hopefully give you their contact information so you can get in contact with them with ANY questions or concerns. Yes, you can call your OBGYN or ask your child’s pediatrician, but they will be nowhere near as knowledgable. They can help with any breastfeeding issues, even if they involve your pump. They can even help make sure your parts are the proper size, which will help you express the more milk.
Mamas who have breastfed before, did you know these things before your little one was born? Mamas-to-be, which one of these things is the craziest to you?