10 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

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I’m the girl who was “prepared” for having a baby. I read all the parenting books, took all the birth-prep classes, polled all my parent friends, and researched all the baby gear. So of course you can imagine the nice welcoming slap in the face I received when I actually had my first baby.

I think what surprised me more than anything though, was how little I was prepared for breastfeeding (even though I obviously took the breastfeeding classes).

Here are 10 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding: 

It hurts. Coming from someone who had an unmedicated childbirth the first time around, I found the first few weeks of breastfeeding with both of my babies to be the equivalent of rubbing sandpaper on my nipples. The fear of that initial latch on was crippling, and after the 8th or so feeding of the day, I would pray to the Lanolin gods to spare mercy on my chapped, bleeding nips.

Merely talking about it gets people riled up. I still haven’t figured out why anyone would ever look at another mom’s method of feeding and feel the need to provide input. Breast, bottle – who cares? Let’s celebrate that our babies are being fed and cared for by someone who loves them more than anything else in the world.

It owns you. Literally. Everything from your diet, your schedule, and your hormones – breastfeeding is your boss, and you will say goodbye to freedom for awhile. I seriously had no idea that every decision I would make for the next year or so would revolve around feeding my baby. Have a nasty cold? No meds (aka relief) for you. Want to go out for the night? Better pack a pump. Want to stop misplacing things? Better go get your keys out of the refrigerator first. The breastfeeding brain struggle is real.

You can’t wear dresses or cute bras. Wearing a regular bra for the first time after breastfeeding was a monumental holiday in our household. It was the day mommy felt like she could conquer the world. And, I would love to know if anyone has figured out how to wear a dress while breastfeeding. I was traumatized by having to strip to my bra and underwear at my brother-in-law’s wedding, while sitting and pumping on a bench in front of the bathroom door (so every time it swung open, the world could see me in all my glory).

Feeding in public is not for the modest. Some make the process of feeding in public look SO EASY. I’m the awkward girl in the corner with a screaming baby in one hand and my boob in the other – leaving no hands for the *dreaded* mishap of my nursing cover falling off. Literally my worst nightmare. And it happened more times than I can count.

Be prepared for awkward moments. Like when your boobs start leaking mid-conversation with a male friend who doesn’t have children. Or when your boss walks in on you while pumping. NO ONE PREPARED ME FOR THESE ENCOUNTERS.

Your sex drive will plummet. At least mine did. And I really wish someone would have prepared me. I blamed my low libido on sleeping an average of 3 hours a night and existing solely to keep a tiny human alive. When actually, it was the breastfeeding hormones. And I learned from an angel of a friend that there is a cream that can be prescribed by your OB to help level out those hormones. Game changer for baby number 2. And totally worth the $300 price tag.

There is no break (ever). Even if you decide to “let dad take this round” with a bottle, you still have to pump in order to keep up your supply. You just have to resign yourself to the fact that your life revolves around a baby who seems to be hungry for 95% of it’s first few months of life.

Pumping and storing milk is practically rocket science. When I worked outside the home with our first child, pumping ruled my existence. Especially because I didn’t have an abundant milk supply. It made me crazy calculating how many ounces my baby needed to get through the day and how many times I needed to pump to produce that. Between all the measuring, calculating, dividing, and multiplying I did, I should have earned a degree in milk science.

You will miss it. With our second (and last) baby, all I could think about was her first birthday so we could begin weaning. That is, until her first birthday, when I was the one not ready for our journey to be over. We finally weaned around 16 months, and there were all kinds of bittersweet tears during “the last feeding”.

Now that I’m out of the trenches of breastfeeding, I’m left with two lasting keepsakes: 1. an irreplaceable bond with both of my children and 2. deflated boobs that serve as daily reminders it was a good run while it lasted.

What surprised you most about breastfeeding?

4 COMMENTS

  1. I nurse in dresses. Actually I’ve converted most of my wardrobe to “nurse friendly” options. I don’t have many things that are tight, if they’re fitted it’s a stretchy material. I also double layer EVERYTHING. So if I pull my tshirts up, I have a tank top still covering my stomach and back.

  2. All of these things are real. Was there a reason you were set on weaning at 1 year? No judging, just curious. My son will be 1 next week and shows absolutely no indication of weaning at all. I am of the mind to let him nurse as long as possible, but I am curious about reasons to wean on your own. Also, I do exactly what the previous commenter said–tank tops under everything! I don’t even remember what it’s like to wear a real bra.

    • You know, with my first, I was such a “rule follower”. And one year seemed to be what I kept reading and hearing. So silly. With our second, I just nursed until it felt like we are both ready to wean.

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