If you are soon-to-be expecting your first little bundle of joy, you no doubt have learned a lot about pregnancy. And in turn, you have learned first-hand about all of the, how shall we say? Unglamorous things about being pregnant? Point being, we’re sure you’ve experienced some surprises along the way. Things you wish you would have known beforehand. We also feel there is a similar amount of unspoken mystery surrounding breastfeeding. So, today we are going to talk about what we think you should know about breastfeeding now – so you’re not surprised by it later!
Breastfeeding Can be Hard
For some reason, there is an expectation that moms instinctively know how to breastfeed. While, yes, breastfeeding is a very natural phenomenon (for most women), it is not necessarily an easy skill to master. And as your body is recovering from labor, learning to nurse may be the last thing you want to do. You may experience issues with latching, low supply, or maybe your baby just isn’t interested. Nursing is something that takes time to learn how to do it efficiently. If you are having a hard time or find yourself getting frustrated, don’t give up. We are now offering virtual lactation consulting, so if you have questions or troubles with breastfeeding, we’re here to help!
Breastfeeding Can be Painful
Yes, breastfeeding might be painful. And it is important to understand what may be causing your pain:
- Improper latch
- Clogged duct
- Sore or cracked nipples
. . . to name a few.
There’s a lot of *trial-and-error involved when you are first learning how to breastfeed. Once you get the hang of things though, breastfeeding can actually become very pleasant. Not only will you experience a physical release of pressure, but your brain releases oxytocin during breastfeeding. Oxytocin is known as the “love” hormone which encourages a sense of calm and can initiate bonding.
*If you are experiencing chronic pain during breastfeeding or are exhibiting signs or symptoms of mastitis (rash, warm skin on the breast, burning sensation during feeds, or fever) it may be time to visit your doctor.
You Need to Eat More
Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, energy to produce the milk as well as to deliver it. On average, you will be burning anywhere from 400-500 calories a day just from breastfeeding! In order to keep up with this demand, it is crucial you compensate by eating an abundance of healthy, nutritious food. Staying well-hydrated is equally important.
You’re Going to Need Bigger Bras
When you are breastfeeding, you will undoubtedly notice how much bigger your breasts have become. When your milk comes in, it is not uncommon to gain a full cup size (or more)! But don’t worry, once your milk supply stabilizes you will see a reduction in the size of your breasts. However, they will most likely remain enlarged until after you wean your little one. So invest in quality, supportive bras.
Your Nipples are Going to Leak
Yup, you read that right, you leak breast milk. All the time. They will leak when you are close to feeding time, they will leak when you think about your baby, they will leak when you hear a baby cry, they will leak when you take a warm shower, trust us they will leak! Sometimes it is just a dribble and other times it can be a full-on eruption. Many people who have never breastfed tend to think of the stream of milk as coming from one set point, like a faucet. But in reality, the milk comes out in a spray, like a showerhead. The best way to be prepared for the inevitable leakage is to stock up on breast pads and to always carry a spare t-shirt when you go out!
So there it is, a few of our favorite inside pointers to help you prepare for breastfeeding. Much like pregnancy and delivery, breastfeeding is full of surprises, frustrations, even annoyances. Once you get the hang of it though, you will love the time you get to spend snuggling, nourishing, and bonding with your little one!