10 things people don’t tell you about breastfeeding

 If you like this post on breastfeeding tips and would like to share it with other new moms and moms-to-be, please provide this link to them: https://perfectingmotherhood.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/10-things-people-dont-tell-you-about-breastfeeding/

Breastfeeding for all babies

1) It’s not that simple, but it’s also not that complicated
Alright, we’re mammals, so you’d think breastfeeding is in our genes, but when the time comes, it doesn’t appear that obvious. Can it hurt? Yes, if you don’t do it right, and mostly, if your baby doesn’t do it right. You didn’t get the lactation instruction manual and your baby didn’t either! So see it as the first learning experience you’ll share together. Make your bundle of joy your partner and don’t sweat the small stuff. And there’s always help out there if you need it:  through your health insurance, La Leche League, some state programs, etc. My biggest advice is to inquire about your options BEFORE you give birth. You’ll be way too busy and tired after the birth to browse the internet for a lactation consultant.

2) Everybody will give you their personal opinion about breastfeeding
You’ll hear more than your share about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding as you approach the delivery date. Sometimes you almost feel like there’s a war brewing out there… And whether you decide to breastfeed or not, you’ll hear both sides of the discussion. I personnally never “made the decision” to breastfeed. For me, it was something I was going to do and made sure I was successful at it, both physically and mentally. I can’t believe how many people kept telling me after I had been breastfeeding for over six months that it was long enough and I could stop now, as if I had nothing else to prove! In a way, it motivated me to continue breastfeeding, as if to show them how little I cared about their advice, but to any mom who is wondering how long she should breastfeed, those comments are very unsupportive. Just do what you want to do, breastfeed or not, for two months or 18 months, and enjoy every minute of it!

3) Your breast size is no indication of how much milk you’ll produce
I was barely a size B pre-pregnancy and became a size D by the time I started lactating, so all small-breasted women, rejoice! I found out that the key to good production is to stay hydrated yourself. The less you drink, the less milk will come out. And eating throughout the day will keep you from feeling famished and exhausted.

4) Your breast pump bag looks really cool
One day after I returned to work, a male colleague of mine pointed out to my black breast pump bag and remarked how stylish it looked, with its several conveniently placed pockets. I replied, “thanks, that’s my breast pump bag”. He looked puzzled and inquired, “your what?” “My breast pump bag. You know, breast pumping”, as I used sucking hand gestures in front of my boobs. “Aaaaah”, he said as he suddenly blushed and walked away. I think that was the last time he’ll ever compliment a lady on her bag…

5) There’s nothing else in the world like night feedings
In the still of the night, when everything is quiet in the house and everybody else in the whole world is sleeping, you get to share some very special one-on-one time with your baby. Both of you feel half asleep, half awake, skin-to-skin, laying in bed. As you listen to the rhythmic sucking-gulping process, you start breathing in a delicious baby smell. Other moms had told you about by that smell, but all they saw what your puzzled look as you thought they were just gone gaga about their babies. It’s all true, your own baby’s smell is the most wonderful scent in the world, and the good part is that it doesn’t go away as they grow up. Alright, it will probably stop in the teenage years!

6) Say goodbye to baby weight!
Breastfeeding is the EASIEST way to lose your extra pregnancy weight without having to run on a treadmill like a wild rabbit being chased by a fierce coyote. Believe it or not, you’ll still be able to eat a good amount of food, as breastfeeding literally sucks calories out of you. For every ounce of milk you make, you lose about 20 calories. I produced a lot of milk, about 30oz a day, which equals 600 calories per day. Way better than the 300 extra calories a day needed during pregnancy that we use to justify eating for two.

7) You’re doing in for yourself, not just for your baby
Breastfeeding causes small uterine contractions that help bring your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size faster. It also reduces your risk of breast cancer by as much as 25%. And it increases your levels of oxytocin (sounds like some good drug name if you ask me!), which is a hormone that helps you relax. Something all new moms could use.

8)  You will lose calcium while lactating
The good news is the bone loss is temporary and according to some studies, women who breastfeed lower their risk of osteoporis in the long run. Take some calcium supplements while lactating, and you’ll be just fine.

9) If you can take on the breastfeeding challenge, you can do anything
I never saw breastfeeding as a chore, or as something I had to do as a mom. I saw it as a challenge and dealt with it every day, until it became a habit. The challenge was to have the baby latch properly, make sure the baby fed enough and that my nipples didn’t become raw meat in the process, and then to repeat every day until I felt it was time to stop. I stop nursing my boys around 9 months, but I continued to pump until they were 13 months old, three times a day, every day. If you can handle that, you can handle most of the inconveniences that life throws at you. And there are a lot of them once you become a parent.

10) You’ll miss it when you stop doing it
Now, you’re probably screaming, are you crazy? Nope, I’m not. Deciding when to stop was actually very difficult. After sharing a part of me (my milk) for so long with my babies and acting as their lifeline, it was hard to close that chapter. Becoming a mom is a wondering experience. First you grow a whole human being inside your womb, and your job continues when you feed that being from your own body. Sorry guys, but you’re really missing out! Breastfeeding provided me with me-time, especially when I went back to work and I pumped, alone in a locked room for 20 minutes at a time. With only the rhythm of the pump to hear and a good book to read, those were my most precious minutes of the day. It was hard to go back to the lunch room and not have that moment of peace that I so needed to get revitalized for the rest of the day.

To all moms out there, try breastfeeding and seize the day! Kids grow up fast, and the nursing months will end up being a tiny section of their lives. And if you think that breastfeeding is painful, read my post on Love hurts – why do our children cause us pain every day? I believe you’ll clearly see there’s much more pain awaiting for you!

For more breastfeeding posts, read Why is breastfeeding not considered a medical necessity? and Breastfeeding – a tale of two hospitals.

For more inspiring stories on breastfeeding moms, visit the Simple Gift blog.

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35 responses to “10 things people don’t tell you about breastfeeding

  1. So so true, breastfeeding is one of the hardest things to do correctly. Without the proper support I can understand why so many women start feeding and then give up. Im lucky I had the support of my mother who is a lactation consultant my journey was difficult tho and I had to express everyday for 6wks as my son could not latch on properly due to his jaw. Great article look forward to reading more :-)

  2. This is a fantastic resource! Thanks so much for posting it. I’ll make sure to forward it along to new moms.

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  4. I posted on TB too – but I love coming across blog entries like this. The fact that people don’t really talk about breastfeeding is the reason I started my breastfeeding blog – it is a place where mamas share their stories. I would love it if you would consider sharing this entry – and also maybe a personal story as well. Check it out. And GREAT! entry.

  5. This is awesome. I just wrote about my experience B/F and I’m posting it on my blog as recommended reading and forwarding it to friends and family. Hope you don’t mind. Breast feeding rocks!

  6. just read your list. i so agree! #4 is hilarious. and the night time feedings can be so sweet. i wrote a post about night beauty: http://peanutsandpapaya.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/night-beauty/ — about night time parenting and that time alone with a baby.

  7. My firstborn gave up night feedings early, like at around 3 months. I actually missed them, much like I miss breastfeeding her. Yes, it can all be a pain. But it’s also the most beautiful experience ever, and in hindsight it’s over really FAST. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  8. chocolate and waffles

    I agree with your thoughts on breastfeeding – I think it’s a wonderful way to nourish and bond with your baby. I am still nursing my DD and she’s almost 15 months. I am sure there are people who think we could stop, but I think the emotional connection that breastfeeding brings to the baby is still useful at this age when the baby seeks out his/her independence – s/he still has a way to connect with mama.

    However, I have to disagree with the weight loss! I lost some weight initially when I breastfed, but have gained weight while nursing. I know several women who didn’t lose weight while nursing (unfortunately, I figured I would be one of those! I would have much preferred to be in the category of those who lost weight effortlessly while nursing!).

    Anyway, glad to hear such an overall positive take on breastfeeding!

  9. I enjoyed your post. Do you have any advice for moms with flat nipples?

    • I would advise anyone with that concern to see a lactation consultation BEFORE the baby’s birth and see what can be done (special stimulation exercises – Hoofman technique), breast shells before , breast shields after birth, pumping, etc). Moms who are motivated to breastfeed need to look for support in order to address this concern. Most moms will be able to breastfeed in that situation, so it’s worth a try.

  10. Hi, I enjoyed your post. So many women have a problem in the early stages of breastfeeding that they give it up too quickly – I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful nursing sister who showed me that for my daughter and me – lying on our side was the easiest position for her to latch as she was a real littly.. we’ve been feeding for two years now – I do think it’s time to give it up – just not sure how we’re going to do that though – she just doesn’t show any signs of being prepared to give it up.

    For me the best was the gorgeous little sucking sounds she made as a baby, it was the most beautiful sound in the world to me and I love the closeness we have physically and emotionally when we feed.

    Thanks for a great post.

    http://www.hiccupsandgigglessa.com – the parenting website for parents by parents

  11. Hi,
    So enjoyed your post, will send a link to all newly lactating mommies! Had such a giggle as your points are very valid. I recently had a blocked milk duct which turned into a nipple infection but we are all back on track and heading for the two year mark on child number 3! Keep in touch!

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoying my post and are passing it along. It’s sad to see so many moms start out breastfeeding their newborn, only to give up after a few weeks because they’re encountered a variety of problems. I think more moms need to know that they can do it and do it well if they arm themselves with the right support.

  12. Great article. Liking this article was a pleasant unexpected surprise, after reading “Baby Gear Don’t Waste Your Money”. This article was a much better read, more cohesive, and had better facts.

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  14. Here in Germany quite a lot of mums breastfeed which I found fabulous after having my fourth child. I fed all of my children myself. The first three were born in Scotland, and especially when I had the eldest, I found very little support and a lot of people against breastfeeding.

    I think that your article is great, I also have an extra point to make: you can choose to wear clothes that conceal the fact that you’re feeding when you’re out in public. I often wore baggy tops and just popped baby undreneath. People sat next to me on benches and were shocked when she ‘popped out’ as they’d had no idea I was feeding. Plus you can find very good baby carriers that are suitable for feeding. I’d feed on the go when necessary, which was very useful with other children.

    You’re so right about the feeling, the bond and the missing it. It’s something I’m very proud to have done for my children.

    • I had no idea Germany could be so unfriendly towards breastfeeding. I thought this only happened in the US! There’s obviously a lot of progress to be made everywhere, to allow mothers to feed their babies the natural way.

  15. Thanks for the informative article. It’s to the point and fun to read. I added a link of it to our FB page (Milk Mommy Milk). I think that every new mom should read this. It’s amazing to me how so many women shy away from breastfeeding for lack of guidance. And yet, breastfeeding is the BEST thing a mom can do for their children.
    thanks again.

  16. I am 19 years old & pregnant with my first! I’m due in 12 days & even since before becoming pregnant I was determined to breastfeed! Of course I am nervous, who isn’t? Especially with their first. Questions keep coming in my head like, “Will I produce enough?”, “Will I be able to help her latch on?”, “Can I really do this?” But after doing my research & taking a breastfeeding class, I am extremely excited & can’t wait to have that skin to skin bonding moment with her! I know it might be rocky at first, but the most important thing is for me to stay confident. I know it’s best for her, plus the positives it has for the mother as well! I just want to thank you & all of the people who support breastfeeding! There is so much negativity towards it now a days, it’s sad. The only word I have for people like that is immature. But again THANK YOU! :)

    • You’re welcome and you should be very proud for giving breastfeeding a try. There’s no other feeling in the world than realizing your own body can feed your baby on its own. How cool is that? Just surround yourself with the people most willing to help and tune out the others, no matter how close to you they are. Breastfeeding is the first of many, MANY things people will want to give you their expert opinion on!

      My biggest advice to you is, get the best support you can get. If things don’t work out at first, get help from a lactation consultant right now. My first child was a lazy sucker and my second was a pro from birth, so you never know what you’re going to get.

      Also, you may be surprised at how helpful or unhelpful people in the hospital are. Read my post on Breastfeeding – a tale of two hospitals (https://perfectingmotherhood.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/breastfeeding-a-tale-of-two-hospitals/) so you’re ready for everything!

      Good luck and feel free to come back and report how you’re doing!

  17. I just found this blog from the Milk Mommy Milk fan page on facebook & couldn’t wait to share with my friends. My daughter is 2 & we are still going strong (nursing). I am over 40 pounds less than my PRE pregnancy weight & feel great. Most of the time I love nursing & it has had it’s challenges. I would like to add a possible #11 & #12 & #13 for the list that one of the Milk Mommy Milk owner’s Katy shared with me when BB was an infant when I thought I wasn’t producing enough. #11 It is demand & supply… The more that is demanded, typically the more the body will supply. #12 you might never get as much from the pump as you will get from your baby sucking directly. I was getting frustrated when I started to pump because I was curious how much I was producing & barely anything came out at times yet my daughter never seemed hungry & I nursed on demand. She gained weight #13 there is a different growth chart for breast feed babies compared to bottle feed babies & I believe you can find it on WHO.

    • Thanks for stopping by and adding to my list! Breastfeeding sure is a learning skill but I can say the same of parenthood in general. It takes quite a lot of practice to be a parent and you can try get things wrong. I think the biggest rule for breastfeeding success is getting enough support, especially since there seems to be so many people that will try to tell you it’s OK not to breastfeed even when you genuinely want to.

  18. I found breastfeeding one of the hardest thing I have done in my life. I only did it for a month and a half for various reasons and felt very guilty but my baby is happy and growing well…I still was able to benefit from it and lost all my baby weight in no time. Thank you for sharing this ! I will be following your very resourceful blog !

  19. Great post, brought back a lot of memories! :) I can’t wait to start all over with baby #2 in 6 weeks! It is really such a special time and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even in the beginning when I worried whether I had enough. Lucky for us our pediatric encouraged me and with her support I felt confident to stay away from formula until supply met demand.

  20. I love this blog because it is so true.

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