10 Surprising Things I Have Learned About Breastfeeding

Whoever said that we shouldn’t cry over spilled milk was obviously a man. Or maybe a woman that never breastfed or maybe she just never pumped. In any case, this person was wrong. Dead wrong. When you are a breastfeeding/pumping mama, it is perfectly OK to cry over spilled milk. I now know this, among other things I've learned on my two year breastfeeding journey with my son:  

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It’s technically not free. 

While the costs of breastfeeding don’t even come close to the cost of formula feeding, it is not free. There are still things you need to buy and I’m not even talking about a breast pump (which can get pretty pricey, depending on your needs). Until I was pregnant, I had no idea that you had to continue to take prenatal vitamins after giving birth when you’re a nursing mom. I also didn’t know, until my son’s 3 day check up, that nursing moms need to give their babies Vitamin D drops. (My doctor told me I could take Vitamin D myself but I’ve read in some places it’s not the same.) Then there’s the nursing pads, pump, storage bags, nursing bra, etc. Still way cheaper than formula, believe me, but definitely not free.

You could quite possibly eat yourself out of house and home.

I had no idea how hungry nursing would make me. No. Idea. This doesn’t exactly help with the whole “you lose weight faster” idea, either. You really need to pay attention to what you’re eating! 

The thirst is unquenchable.

I also had no idea how thirsty I would be while nursing. It’s insane. I would never start a feeding without my hydro flask within arms reach. 

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A baby’s saliva can help mom produce milk to fight infection

When nursing a little bit of “backwash” will enter the mom’s body. Her body can then detect infection and adjust her milk to give the baby what she needs to fight it off. Here is a link to an article I found about it. 

Your breasts may not get as large as you hoped. 

I think many of us equate breastfeeding with ginormous boobs. This is not necessarily true. Yes, your boobs will get fuller and, yes, some women do get pretty big boobs. But every woman is different. While I realize this is disappointing for some women, it does not mean that your boobs don't have enough milk. I definitely got fuller in the upper region but my breasts were by no means huge and, honestly, the difference was probably not even that noticeable. I noticed, of course,(and I did like the fuller look!) but they did not turn out anywhere near what I thought. 

You can store breast milk at room temperature for up to 8 hours.

I’m not sure I ever really thought about this before having a baby but I probably would have just put breast milk straight in the refrigerator. But you don’t have to! I didn’t pump very often at all but occasionally if little man slept through a feeding (I wouldn’t wake him) I would pump and leave the bottle on my night stand. Here is more information on breast milk storage and handling.

You might feel as if the life is being sucked out of you.

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When you are nursing a newborn, it can seem as if you are feeding around the clock. You’re sleep deprived and exhausted. I remember in the first few days of my son being born, crying to my mom (and I do mean actually crying), “It’s like he’s sucking the life out of me. Literally.” I can laugh about it now and see how quickly that season passed but at the time it felt extremely overwhelming and never ending.

It will most likely bring you to tears at some point (and not the good kind!)

Experts will tell you that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt unless something is wrong. I still can’t figure out why they say this. It hurts. Yes, it's true that it shouldn't be extremely painful but I know for me the whole "it's not supposed to hurt" thing had me worried sick that something was wrong. I am definitely not an expert but I also know that it's hard to say what a "normal" level of discomfort is because we all tolerate pain differently. 

Even with a good latch, there’s soreness and possible engorgement (cue the tears). It can definitely be  painful. But it’s only in the beginning, which is nothing in comparison to the amount of time and you will be nursing. And the amount of goodness you will be passing down to your baby for a lifetime!

Haters gonna hate. 

Some people will not like the fact that you choose to breastfeed your baby. It's weird, I know. Some will find it offensive or even disgusting. Some will feel judged by your lactating bosom. And others will find it great, up until they think your child is too old to be breastfeeding. Just keep your head up (boobs out?) and you do you, mama. 

It’s amazing. 

The way our bodies were created to nurture our babies is absolutely amazing. I will never ever forget how my son worked his way down my chest to nurse for the first time. It completely blew me away. Once I got past the learning curve, the pain and the engorgement – I (slowly) started to appreciate the beauty of breastfeeding.

It really is a beautiful thing.

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