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We see that celebrity mother glamorously sitting in a makeup chair. Surrounded by hairstylists perfecting her long shiny waves. Her silk robe opened just enough to expose her bosom. Her small calm child lying there suckling away with ease. A quintessential picture of motherhood and all its beauty.
Can you see it? Yeah?
This is the image of breastfeeding fed to us by the media. We dream of the goddess-like moments we will have nursing our offspring. Then, we have a child, and much to our surprise…
Breastfeeding is nothing like you think it will be!
At least it wasn’t for me.
If you read my previous post on breastfeeding (you can read it here), you know that I had some serious struggles when it came to breastfeeding my daughter Lily for the first 5 months of her life.
I had this very unrealistic notion that breastfeeding was going to be easy. However, in the nine months I have been exclusively breastfeeding, I have unearthed a treasure trove of breastfeeding quirks that I had never even thought about before giving birth.
I thought I would be doing a disservice to the soon-to-be mothers out there if I didn’t share all my newfound knowledge.
11 Breastfeeding Truth Bombs
The good, the bad, and the embarrassing.
(PS. If you don’t like blog posts that are a little TMI, this post is NOT for you.)
1. Inverted nipples will be inverted no more.
My whole life I have had one inverted nipple. The left side to be exact. I never had a problem with it and never thought it would be a problem. It just was what it was. Then I had Lily and suddenly it was the bane of my existence.
Babies do not like inverted nipples. At all. Their tiny little mouths, although equipped with some serious cheek muscle, are not built to eat from inverted nipples. So if you have them, I am sorry to tell you, breastfeeding is going to be a struggle, and getting your baby to latch, is almost impossible.
But don’t go crying just yet! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s called a nipple shield.
The nipple shield is a silicone, nipple-shaped device that suctions to your breast and acts as a nipple extension. I used a nipple shield for about 4 months with Lily. And guess what!? Little by little, that inverted nipple popped right out. Now Lily can suck on that thing no problem!
It was a difficult experience and there were tears and blood involved, but it all worked out eventually.
Lesson number one for all you soon-to-be mothers out there: Have no fear and just remember that if you keep on keeping on, your inverted nipples will be inverted no more!
2. Lopsided breasts are a real possibility and it’s awful.
If you have perfectly symmetrical boobies before you have a baby, enjoy them while you can. There is a real possibility that those won’t last after you start breastfeeding.
Mine absolutely did not. My right boob is bigger than my left. Almost two times bigger people!
To be honest, it’s completely my fault. Because I had the inverted issue on the left side, sometimes I would just be lazy and feed Lily on the right side instead of putting the shield on. Or when we were in public I would just nurse on the right because not using the shield was more convenient.
Even though I didn’t do it that often, I think over time my right breast just compensated and began producing more milk. Now I am a Lopsided Lucy and it’s awful! My bras fit weird and it’s actually noticeable underneath my shirts. It’s a little embarrassing.
I’ve actually heard from other mothers that this is a common occurrence. Babies start favoring one side over the other for whatever reason and because of that milk production gets unevenly distributed.
Lesson number two for all you soon-to-mothers: Try your hardest to feed your baby evenly on both sides or lopsided breasts are a real possibility!
3. Milk production will even out but leakage is still a problem.
One of the biggest struggles I had those first couple of months of breastfeeding was the 24/7 leakage. Maybe leakage is too tame a word. I basically had breast milk shooting out of my boobs whenever there was nothing covering them.
Stepping out of the shower? Milk shooting out!
Taking off my bra? Milk shooting out!
Luckily, that only lasted the first couple of months. Now it only shoots out like that if Lily hasn’t eaten in a while and my boobs are about to combust. However, now that Lily sleeps for longer stretches throughout the night, I will wake up covered in breast milk at least once a week.
It’s really fun to have to change your bra, shirt, and sheets at 3 am when you’re already exhausted. Not!
Lesson number three for all you soon-to-be mothers: The sooner you accept the fact that your life will be covered in breastmilk the better. (Don’t forget to wear breast pads!)
4. Oversupply is a thing and it can be a real struggle.
You always hear the stories about mothers who didn’t produce enough breastmilk for their babies. But did you know there was such thing as producing too much breastmilk?
I didn’t know that, but now I defiantly do. I, of course, want to say how grateful I am that I am able to produce enough breastmilk to more than adequately feed my child. However, having an oversupply of breast milk comes with some struggles of its own.
Whenever I fed Lily she would start choking and gagging because the milk would be coming out too fast for her to swallow. She ended up learning to only drink half of the milk and just let the rest fall out of her mouth and down my stomach. Good times!
She would also spit up a lot and get gassy/burpy from being forced to eat so fast. The spitting up is something we still deal with daily. I mean, I would spit up too if I was forced to drink like a man competing for first place at a milk drinking contest!
Lesson number four for all you soon-to-be mothers: If you are finding that you too have an oversupply of milk, try not to pump unless you have to. You will be doing more harm than good. Pumping too often will only tell your body to produce more milk!
5. Breastfeeding in public get’s easier but is still a pain in the ass.
Breastfeeding in public is a controversial topic in and of itself. But let’s just put aside the should we/shouldn’t we “I’m just trying to feed my baby…STOP GIVING ME THAT LOOK!” public opinion aside and just focus on pure logistics.
Breastfeeding out of the comfort of your home is not a walk in the park. Now let me just preface this by saying, if you’re one of those women who truly doesn’t mind whipping out a boob in public, then you have it a little bit easier.
But if you’re more like me and like to cover up a little bit when you breastfeed in public, you’re going to hate it. Trying to cover up, while getting your baby to latch is so hard. But even as you get a little better at that there are still so many obstacles to face!
Trying to nurse in a restaurant? Here are your options: Squishing your baby between you and the table while you sit in the booth, squishing your baby between you and the table while you sit in a hard chair, or going outside and sitting on a hard bench.
Remember how I said breastfeeding in public was a pain in the ass…I was being literal.
Trying to nurse at a sporting event or movie theater? Let’s hope you know the people on both sides of you because they’ll either get elbowed by you or kicked by your baby.
Trying to nurse while sitting in the grass at the park or on the sand at the beach? Better have been doing your yoga because you’ll need some serious core strength to hold yourself upright. The list can go on and on.
Lesson number five for you soon-to-be mothers: If you’re not at home on your couch, bed, or cozy glider, breastfeeding in public is a pain in the ass. Plain and simple.
6. One day your baby will suddenly discover your breasts and it’s hilarious.
My daughter is now 9-months old as I write this. Which means I have been feeding her through my breasts for 9 months. When she is hungry I pull out a boob and she eats. When she’s done, she turns away and that is that. She never showed any interest in my boobs whatsoever.
That was until a couple of weeks ago when she suddenly discovered the vessel from which her food is delivered. It was like watching a food critic mull over and inspect a dish they had just been presented which they’d never eaten before.
There were thoughtful furrowed eyebrows. There was a look of part confusion and part fascination. There was lots of poking and prodding. And of course, there was the occasional tasting.
After she was done with her very thorough inspection, she looked up at me with a hilarious smirky look on her face. It was like, “Mom, have I been eating out of these things this whole time? Hmm.”
Lesson number six for all you soon-to-be mothers out there: If you’re breastfeeding and one day your baby suddenly acts like Isaac Newton discovering gravity … It’s okay. It’s completely normal. I think.
7. Babies like to practice yoga while nursing, just go with it.
Do you know how sometimes you like to walk and eat at the same time? I mean, thumbs up for multitasking! Well, as your baby gets older, they will also want to move around while they eat, just like you!
They’ll stretch and stand and twist and turn and do what seems like a sun salutation…all while your nipple is still in their mouth.
It’s not painful per se, but it’s also not the most comfortable or relaxing time either. I find it actually quite funny watching my daughter figure out how far she can venture away from me and maneuver every which way, while still latched on.
Lesson number seven for all you soon-to-be mothers: There will come a day when, like mine, your precious baby will also want to practice yoga while nursing. Just go with it! I mean what’s the worst that can happen?
8. Sleeping in a bra every night seriously sucks.
Are you one of those girls who rips off her bra as soon as she gets home? Do you enjoy the release and feeling of freedom? Did you love sleeping braless and hate putting a bra on in the morning?
I was one of those bra-hating girls. Luckily, I’ve had fairly small boobies my whole life so being braless was a choice. Ahhhh, I can still remember that glorious feeling of being braless.
Now, it feels like such a distant memory, since I’ve been wearing a bra for 9 months straight! That’s nin months of days and nights; only got a taste of freedom during my 15-minute shower.
I think sleeping in a bra has to be the hardest part to get used to, but it has to be done. That or I end up sleeping in a puddle of breast milk.
Being in a bra all the time was not something I ever consciously prepared myself for and it’s one of those things I wish a breastfeeding veteran would’ve warned me about.
Lesson number eight for soon-to-be mothers: Enjoy your boobie freedom while you can ladies!
9. Nursing in the summer is one sweaty ordeal.
You know that feeling of being so hot you can feel the sweat dripping down various parts of your body? And if someone even goes near you, you freak out because you just cannot handle any more body heat? If you’ve ever slept in the same bed as another human being in the summer, then you know what I’m talking about.
Well, breastfeeding during the summer is like sitting in a sauna while being forced to cuddle someone…while naked. Sweaty. Sticky. Uncomfortable. Now if you have some powerful fans or can crank up the AC then I guess sweaty feedings won’t be that big of a problem.
Lesson number nine for you soon-to-be mothers: If you plan on breastfeeding your baby in the summer somewhere outside or without air conditioning, prepare to end the feeding with sweat dripping down your arm and your poor baby’s hair drenched!
10. When you have a teething baby, proceed with caution.
I know you have probably heard this before. People have warned you to watch out for when your baby gets teeth because they will try to bite your nipple off. Do you know why they say that? Because it’s true!
Luckily, I have a very gentle baby who has only bit me a few times and it’s never been hard enough to bring me to tears. But from what I have heard, not all moms are that lucky.
Another weird thing that happened when my daughter’s two bottom teeth popped through was that she temporarily forgot how to eat. It was like having these two sharp things take up residence in her mouth erased her ability to suck properly.
This caused her to tug and pull at my nipple weirdly and it was way more painful than when she actually bit me with her teeth. She gradually started eating more normally, but still has moments where it’s like she’s trying out new techniques, and can’t say it’s too enjoyable for me.
Lesson number ten for soon-to-be mothers: You shouldn’t be afraid of when your baby starts teething…just proceed with caution!
11. Breastfeeding is wonderful despite all of this…no really…I’m serious.
So now you’ve heard me ramble on about how breastfeeding is essentially awful and you’re probably starting to think that formula is looking like a much more attractive option.
Would you be surprised if I said breastfeeding is one of the most wonderful things I have ever done in my life? I am not yanking your chain guys. It truly is amazing.
Is it easy? No!
Is it simple? No!
Is it glamorous? No!
Is it comfortable? No!
Is it incredible that I have the ability to make food with my body, to have a bond like no other with my daughter, and to know that I am providing her with the most nutritious food I can offer her?
Yes, yes, and yes!
Although I have had many struggles with breastfeeding in the last 9 months, I have also had many triumphs. If I would’ve given up, in the beginning, I wouldn’t have experienced how incredible it feels to be the one to provide my child with the nourishment she needs to thrive.
The last and final lesson for soon-to-be mothers: Listen to your body. Listen to your heart. And listen to your baby.
If you feel like you need to breastfeed your baby, just know that it is possible to power through the struggle and get to the other side. Don’t feel like you’re the only mother having a hard time. I guarantee you are not alone.
On the other hand, if you feel like it is just too hard and you can’t get past whatever obstacles you are facing, don’t feel like you’re a failure.
Breastfeeding is easy for some people and hard for others. You have to work with what you’ve got and do what feels right for you.
If you have any questions about breastfeeding, please ask me! I am not an expert and can only speak from experience: however, I am here to help if you need it!