What you need to know about breastfeeding
No matter how prepared you think you are when you are entering motherhood, there are always surprises. Many breastfeeding mothers are happy to share advice and stories about their experiences, but no matter how much you're told, you will still feel unprepared. So here are some important things to know about breastfeeding to help you deal with your new experience.
Breastfeeding is relentless and exhausting
Your newborn will have to eat between 10 to 12 times a day - you will be nursing around the clock. And as your baby grows, your body needs to regulate your milk production to suit your child's needs. Even when your baby sleeps for four hours, you may suffer from engorged, uncomfortable or leaking breasts. And then when your baby hits his or her growth spurts, expect to be feeding more often. Be prepared to spend your days sitting and feeding while your baby gets the nourishment he or she needs to grow. Also, take advantage of your baby's nap times between feedings. You will need - and deserve - a rest too!
Breastfeeding will probably make you cry - good and bad tears
You have likely already been told that breastfeeding can hurt - for some mothers, this might be an understatement. While not everyone suffers extreme pain, everyone experiences some major discomfort while trying to master latching and dealing with stretching nipples. You may read that pain means you are doing something wrong, but everybody hurts in varying degrees at the beginning. If it is unbearable, talk to your doctor.
Breastfeeding your baby, however, is also completely blissful and feeding your child can move you to tears. The intimacy in feeding your baby will help you ignore and overcome the pain and focus on your experience.
Breastfeeding is messy
It often takes mothers some time to realize that those mysterious spots on their clothing are coming from them! And, those wet patches on your baby's onesie aren't the result of a leaky diaper. Your breasts will leak. Whether it's between feedings, during let down (when your baby is feeding on one breast, the other will leak) or when you hear a baby cry, you will likely lactate. It takes some time for your milk to regulate, so definitely expect some leakage for at least a few months. The best way to avoid a mess is to invest in some good nursing pads (you can check out Mother ease's Contoured Reusable Nursing Pads here!). You can insert these pads into your bra to absorb any leakage and protect your clothing. Just remember that it is important to change the pad when it becomes wet to avoid irritation or yeast infections.
Breastfeeding is not instinctive
Babies come out of the womb knowing how to suck, but not necessarily how to suck efficiently enough to gain weight. This is also one of the reasons it may cause you pain - they just aren't latching correctly. You may think that breastfeeding will come naturally for you and your baby, but that's not always the case. If things don't work out, don't be afraid to seek professional help.
Remember, even when breastfeeding is going well, some aspects may still feel wrong. Every mother's breastfeeding experience is different, so go with what feels right. If you are unsure about anything, never hesitate to ask your doctor. And if breastfeedng doesn't work for you, that's ok too - it isn't for everyone!