What To Expect When Breastfeeding (Honestly!)

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What To Expect When Breastfeeding (Honestly!)


There are alot of things people tell you about breastfeeding that can help you prepare; then there are those things that NO ONE tells you and you wish you knew...I'm going to share a little of both with you!

When I got pregnant with our first daughter in 2012, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It's what my mom did and what I felt was best for me and our baby. I am a believer that breastfeeding is a very personal preference and is not for everyone. Let's face the fact of it...you need to be comfortable with a squiggly, crying, human being being attached to you almost constantly, especially during the first few months of life.

For some moms, that's not for them...and that's OK!

I was lucky enough to have my mom as guidance; she breastfed all of us (myself and 2 siblings) up until our first birthdays. She told me it was hard and tiring in the beginning but it would get easier- and it did. She told me once I get through the first few weeks, I'd be golden...and I was!

I had her to cheer me on, check in on me, give me advice and continue to push me through the beginning, knowing herself it gets easier as the days and weeks go on. I believe if you really want to be successful at breastfeeding, you NEEED family or friends (heck, even strangers!) to support and encourage you. After all, it's NOT an easy task and takes weeks to get into a good rhythm! But once you find that rhythm, it's so worth it!

1. Breastfeeding is not easy in the beginning- it is HARD and EXHAUSTING and anyone who says differently is lying!

I was very lucky to have, what I would consider, an easy "go" at breastfeeding for all three pregnancies.

Was is something to get used to the first time I did it? YES!

Was I exhausted from nursing on demand almost every 1-2 hours for months on end? YES!

Did it take a few weeks to get into a routine and rhythm with each baby and figuring out what nursing positions worked best for each of them? YES!

Were my boobs sore until my body got acclimated? YES!

I feel the first few weeks of nursing my first daughter were the hardest. This was ALL new to me. I was a new mom. I was sleep deprived and hungry 24/7. I was trying {something} I had never done before. Oh and by the way, that new {something} was what would keep my newborn baby ALIVE and nourished for her beginning stages of life...no pressure! When you breastfeed, water intake and eating frequently is SO IMPORTANT. I would always notice when I wasn't drinking as much water or eating enough because my milk supply would reflect that.

Being on top of your diet and making sure it's well-balanced is crucial when nursing.

2. Breastfeeding HURTS in the beginning!

Some people say if breastfeeding ever hurts, the baby isn't latching correctly. I don't agree with that entirely.

Yes, if the baby isn't latched on correctly, that WILL hurt and leave your boobs a hot, sore, gruesome mess. However, what no one fully prepares you for, is the pain of engorgement when your milk comes in. Without even having a baby nursing on you, just the pain of your boobs filling like water balloons full of milk was enough to tell me, "hey now...yep, your milk is here and raging with vengeance!" It took me about 2 months, after each of my daughters' deliveries for my milk to begin to regulate. Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. The more frequently the baby nurses, the more milk your body thinks it needs to make for your growing little cherub. I would begin getting engorged after 1.5-2 hours and would be dying to get the baby on me to nurse or attach a pump to me like I was a cow...because my body was used to my babies nursing that frequently! I wasn't blessed with babies who slept consistently through the night anytime before they were a year old, so I was nursing through the night until almost 9 months on each baby.

I would still be getting engorged 6 months in, but as time went on, my body got better at "adjusting" to the babies true supply needs and engorgement didn't hurt by that point.

3. Afterpains are more like LABOR all over again!

These hit me like a Mac truck. The other pains I experienced while breastfeeding each of my daughters were terrible afterpains. HOW did people not warn me of the severity of these?!? Some of my girlfriends didn't experience these with their first or even second babies but I had them each time. If you don't know what afterpains are, they are pains caused by your uterus contracting back to it's "normal" size. Mine literally felt like early labor contractions for days after giving birth. They lasted fully for about 2 weeks postpartum and were more intense after each consecutive birth. Taking Motrin (as my doctor advised) or using a heating pad didn't help much after my first baby- they were too strong after baby 2 & 3! I would literally clinch my fists and take deep breaths EVERY time my baby would latch on to nurse, which is what would cause the contractions. My doctors and nurses would always tell me it's normal and they get worse with each pregnancy- some girls get them much worse than others. Thankfully, they were gone after 2 weeks.

4. The environment you breastfeed in may matter to some!

For me, I could nurse anywhere and not be bothered one bit. Heck, I could be walking through Rittenhouse Square, flying on an airplane, I'll even carry on a conversation with a stranger or my father in law while I'm nursing and it doesn't bother me. But, that's not the same for many...and I totally get that!

To help you better understand my openness...I gave birth to my first two daughters at a "teaching hospital"; so basically, everyone but the janitor (maybe she did actually? haha) saw ALL of me during my hospital stays. Right after my first baby was born, lactation consultants would come in when I had a room full of visitors (family and friends) and tell me it was time to feed and shove my baby on my boob so she could "see the latch". Med students, nurses and doctors alike all checked out my post partum bod and pressed on my uterus like they were pushing out another baby with their bare hands. I had several male doctors in my practice, and while my husband thought it was odd, it didn't phase me at all. I didn't care what the gender of my doctor or nurse was, as long as they were dilient, knowledgeable and could deliver a healthy baby at the end, that's all I cared about. I got so used to strangers "seeing" me, that nursing in front of a n y o n e or even in a crowded environment didn't seem bother me or my baby a single bit.

With that being said, some girls are totally opposite, and I get that! Some moms want the peace and quiet to focus on the task at hand. Some moms need total relaxation to be able to breastfeed and their bodies can't relax without total silence. Some are simply much more private and only want to nurse alone with their baby with no one else around, not even their husband. Everyone is different, as are our bodies.

What works for one may not work for another. The environment you breastfeed in may or may not matter to you. It never mattered to me.

5. Practice Makes Perfect..for you!

The more you do something, the better you get. Just like anything, practice makes perfect.

My "perfect" nursing experience, may be very different from what my mom, sister or friend would describe as their "perfect" nursing experience. But my point is, the more YOU do it with YOUR baby, the better and more efficient you two will be together. You will learn what nursing positions your baby is most efficient eating in, and you will know what routine works best for you.

...With a nursing cover or without one.

...In the car in the Target parking lot or in the nursery with a noise machine on.

...Laying skin to skin in bed or pulling up a sweatshirt while sitting upright on your recliner.

The way you choose to practice nursing and the ways you are most comfortable doing so is all that matters.

Enjoy the experience, do what works for you and your baby, and you won't have any regrets!

#family