Tuesday, June 17, 2014

8 Things They Never Told You about Breastfeeding

It occurred to me that since having a baby I can't look at my breasts the same way ever again. There is just so much... involvement. Before having a baby it seemed like breastfeeding would be the obvious choice, I mean, why spend a ton of money on formula when breast milk is free and better for the baby? Now I know. I got caught up in so much of the pregnancy excitement that it didn't occur to me that breastfeeding would be such a big deal. Everything I read about it had most of the difficult details of breastfeeding either conveniently left out or mentioned only in passing.
I would like to point out that I'm a working mom who almost exclusively pumps. I breastfeed about once or twice a day so I can get some good bonding time in with my sweetpea after work. Keep in mind that this list is all the things they didn't tell you, so I won't be waxing poetic about how wonderful breastfeeding is, since that's pretty much all you hear about. I have no agenda here, so don't think I'm trying to convince anyone to breastfeed or not, because I really don't care. As long as you feed your baby and keep them healthy it's all good with me! 

So here it is: All the things I never knew and no one would tell me about breastfeeding...

1. They will blow up like hot air balloons a couple days after birth. All the books say that "your milk will come in." Yeah, like Pamela Anderson. Only it's not as sexual as it sounds, it's actually terrifying. I once knew a woman who had a really crazy back-alley boob job - her nipples were lopsided, the shape was all out if whack. They looked terrible. I remember seeing her boobs and thinking, "I never want that!" The day after I got home from the hospital I looked in the mirror and that's what my boobs looked like. It felt like they were going to explode. Great. I was going to be sadly ordering those ugly, humongous size E bras on the internet for the rest of my life... But thankfully they went back to normal after a day or so.

2. Your nipples will be sensitive even if they never were before. If you actually get a chance to take a shower with your newborn around, you will find that you can't even face the shower head without shielding your nipples. Those little water droplets can make you cry in pain. So much for a few relaxing minutes by yourself! I recommend having a cold shower beer to ease the pain (not just for the emotional pain... you can put the beer bottle against your nips like an ice pack!)

3. Your nipples will likely bleed at some point. Yeah. Ouch. Once, to my horror, I was getting the pump ready and as I turned it on blood squirted out. Ladies... always put it on the lowest setting first!

4. Breastfeeding is HARD. I made it through boot camp, but OMG, breastfeeding is hard. People love to say things like, "it's a commitment" and "it's a learning process," but trust me, they are sugar coating it. Friends tell me they've had anxiety attacks before every feeding session. I honestly don't know what I would have done if I didn't have my pump! It hurt SO MUCH I would cry. Not to mention my lactation consultant seemed to be up on a high horse, saying you are "doing it wrong" if it hurts. Getting a little newborn to latch on correctly right from the start with a brand new mom seems pretty unlikely. On top of that, the little one is going to want to nurse every two hours at least, so as soon as you finish one feeding session and can decompress and recover, you have to do it all over again. No matter how good the latch is, you are going to get sore no matter what.

5. The internet is full of lies! I was looking at the La Leche League website trying to find a solution to my baby clamping down on my nipple with her gums. They literally have an article saying that all you have to do is say "Ouch!" and the baby will stop biting you. I'm sorry, because I know people love the La Leche League and everything, but that is a total load of crap. I did find some helpful advice on their website, but really, it's tough enough to breastfeed without a bunch of high and mighty moms telling you that you are "doing it wrong if it hurts" as if you have complete control over how your baby decides to take your boob in their mouth. If you ask me, the answer to most of your questions will be to just practice. Keep at it and eventually you will get better.

6. There are myths about "natural" cures for mastitis. These commonly include, for some horrifying reason, putting cabbage leaves in your bra. Come ladies, you know better than that. Don't make fools of yourselves. I've even seen women on Facebook suggest putting mashed potatoes on their breasts as a cure. I'm facepalming so hard right now.

7. Your boobs will leak everywhere. Before I got pregnant I never knew about products like nursing pads. I didn't realize that I would be forced to wear a bra of some kind 24/7 because as soon I hear, smell, or see my baby my boobs will leak everywhere. If I touch my boobs by taking my bra off or adjust them to get comfortable they start gushing. If I nurse my daughter on one side I have to make sure that I have a cloth diaper folded up against the other breast because it will inevitably leak everywhere.
Taking a shower? Milk is all over you before you can hop in the water.
Changing your shirt? Watch out, or the clean shirt will be soaked in milk if you don't move fast enough.
You need at least four hands just to put on a fresh bra - two to hold the breast pads on so you don't drip everywhere and two more to fasten the bra. 

8. Even if you call them "the twins," they are still more different than you realize. I'm sure we've all noticed that most breasts are asymmetrical, but you may find even more things are different when nursing. Maybe one nipple is flat while the other sticks out. Or both are flat, which may make it extremely difficult for the baby to latch on. This means you get to use a whole array of torture devices to try to "correct" it. Nipple shields, breast shields, sucking devices... Have fun trying them all out! That was sarcasm. For me, most of these products caused more problems than less. You also might notice that one side makes more milk than the other. Not only will you notice differences, your baby will too and may choose a preferred side. Your baby may even refuse one side entirely! That way you can have one giant breast full of milk and the other one deflated and sore. Yay!

9. If you ever had your nipples pierced... the milk will squirt out sideways. Which is awesome. And hilarious. Don't forget to chase your partner around the house trying to squirt them with it.


Ashleigh said...

Nursing is HARD, but once its was over, I really miss it. It was great to bond and have a special time but I would have to time my breaks to pump, my boobs looked like a porn star gone wrong and literally I would shoot milk across the room twice a day. Once I got it right in my partner eye from 10 feet away - a personal best.

Good luck mama.

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