Before having my first child I read everything I could find about successfully breastfeeding. However, soon after having my daughter I realized there were a few things left out that I wish I had known about. Find below (10) things I was surprised about when first nursing my daughter and feel free to add yours to the list in the comment section.
2. You will have to wear a bra 24/7. Since leaking happens at night for most breastfeeding mothers, you should invest in a comfortable bra for overnight. You may also want to lay a waterproof pad underneath of you at night in case your nursing pads fail.
3. Unfortunately breast infections can be quite common in the first couple of months. This is because your milk supply is regulating and your little one is still learning correct latch-on/positioning. While your body and baby are adjusting, clogged milk ducts may result which can lead to infection. If you begin to feel off or show any signs of infection (red streaked area on breast, chills, fever, extreme fatigue) seek immediate treatment. Antibiotics are necessary to properly treat breast infections and the sooner you seek treatment the better you will feel.
4. You may have forceful letdown/overactive ejection reflex. While some mothers struggle with low milk supply, I had quite the opposite problem. Forceful letdown is when you have an oversupply of milk that flows at a high rate when letting down. This can lead to baby choking, crying, digestive upset, and can make feeding time generally stressful. My solution to this was pumping a bit of milk out before a feeding to trigger the forceful letdown. I was then able to nurse my daughter at a more normal rate that was tolerable for her. If you have this condition and plan to nurse while on-the-go, receiving blankets work very well to catch the milk spray from the alternate breast. Forceful letdown usually clears up once your milk supply regulates or about 3 to 6 months postpartum.
5. If you plan to use a bottle in addition to breastfeeding, introduce one from the beginning. I did not use any bottles with my first daughter but this was not by choice- she refused to take one because she did not know how to properly suck from one and I introduced it too late. My second daughter was given a bottle on occasion from her very first weeks. This helped tremendously when I returned to work as she was already used to the bottle nipple and now transitions back and forth from breast to bottle very well. If I had waited to introduce the bottle with my second daughter, I believe it would have resulted in the same outcome. So if you anticipate being away from your little one for a date-night, work, etc. try introducing a bottle early-on.
6. Do not pump milk out at night once your little one begins to sleep longer stretches. I did this for a few weeks trying to relive pressure and it resulted in my body continuing to produce milk at these times. Instead, express only enough to allow you to sleep comfortably. Your body will adjust to the change in supply in a few days.
7. Invest in multiple button-down shirts. These were all I wore in the first few months of my girl’s lives because I was able to maintain privacy and not lift up my entire shirt to feed. They are also much cheaper than the fancier “nursing” shirts sold at maternity shops.
8. Breastfeeding will make you hungry all of the time! My appetite increased way more than normal due to breastfeeding. This is completely normal as you can burn up to 500 calories a day simply by feeding your baby. Just make sure to fill up on fruits and veggies for snacks instead of carbs as this is healthier for you and baby.
9. Breastfeeding can be painful in the first postpartum days. This is because breastfeeding releases hormones that naturally cause your uterus to contract and shrink down to it’s pre-pregnancy size.
10. Breastfeeding will create a lasting bond between you and baby that nothing else can replicate. Cherish each quiet moment you have while you feed your little one as this time is so special. After all the infections, embarrassing leaks, and midnight feeding sessions, I learned how much this time meant to me and am so glad I chose to persevere through the difficult times and feed my girls this way.