Unless you spent your pregnancy hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard a few things about breastfeeding.
You know that it’s natural and sort of intuitive, but that it’s not always easy. But then there are the other things that no one seems to tell you about. From yellow baby poop and sore nipples to breast milk snobbery and bottomless-pit-hunger, here’s what we wish we’d known about nursing…
1. Trust your instincts.
Even if you take a breastfeeding class and read all about it online, breastfeeding can still be confusing once you sit down to try it. That’s why it’s key to get help and to get it early: breastfeeding success is all about getting a good start – figuring out how often to feed your baby, how to get her to latch on properly and how to establish a strong milk supply. But once you know your baby is eating well and gaining weight, you’re in the clear. Just get the help you need, keep trying – and don’t give up.You’ll get the hang of it.
2. You’ll constantly wonder if your baby is getting enough to eat.
Formula-feeding mums get the clarity of measurements on bottles and doctor-recommended serving sizes, but breastfeeding mums have to wait until baby decides he’s done eating (and if he falls asleep sucking on your boob, is he done eating?)
As a result, you may become obsessed with knowing whether your baby is crying because he’s hungry – or because, well, he’s a baby and babies cry. Relax mama: if he’s content and he’s pooping and peeing as much as he should be, he’s getting enough.
3. There may be a ton of discomfort at first – or none at all.
There’s a chance you’ll be one of those women who nurses without so much as a sore nipple. If so, lucky you! But other mums find much of the breastfeeding process uncomfortable. There’s engorgement, which gives you rock-hard breasts the size of a porn star’s (and so much pain that you can’t even think about doing anything that porn stars do). Then there are the raw, cracked nipples from baby’s constant and earnest sucking for the first few days.
Ouch! And don’t even get us started on infections like thrush and mastitis.
Fortunately, most discomfort is just the result of minor adjustments your body is making to breastfeeding. Your breasts will learn to hold the right amount of milk to prevent engorgement and your baby will stop sucking the bejeezus out of you when she learns to nurse efficiently. If not, that’s a sign there’s something wrong and you should contact a lactation consultant.
4. You’ll become a breast milk snob.
Once you become a breastfeeding mum, your relationship with formula may change. You may tell your husband that the free sample of formula in the cupboard is off-limits – for emergency use only (the emergency being that you and your milk jugs get into a fatal car crash and never come back). Or, if you’re doing the combo of nursing and formula from any judge-y friends. And you’ll see other mums around town and immediately note whether they’re armed with powdered formula dispensers of a nursing cover. When did you turn into this crazy mama?