To say I’m a big fan of breastfeeding would be a massive understatement. I LOVE IT. I find it convenient, snugly and a wonderful source of comfort for me and my little one. I also know lots of women who just didn’t get on with it. I support all women in whatever way they choose to feed their baby, breastfeeding suits some women and not others and that is just fine with me.
The reality is that most mums will give it a go but are not always supported if things get tough. Here’s a list of good and bad things about breastfeeding that I didn’t know until I started doing it. This wont be the same for everybody and although some of these sound quite bad they are fleeting. Please add your own experiences in the comments box!
1. For the first two to three weeks, it is sometimes excruciatingly painful. This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, our nipples aren’t used to such vigorous sucking. We assume that they’ll just get on with doing what they were made to do, but they do not. They put up an almighty fight and scream to be left alone. Secondly, when our milk actually comes in, the breasts can get so engorged that the nipples flatten, so hungry little baby can’t latch on without some serious and agonizing pinching.
The best bit though, is that this awful pain does pass and when it does, the elation of overcoming it is fabulous. So, if you’re reading this within the first two weeks of your baby being born and breastfeeding is painful, then hang on in there. If your nipples are cracked and bleeding though, go and see your doctor! This may be mastitis, which is something different and will need treatment.
2. If you get this pain it doesn’t just happen with the first baby you breastfeed, but all the others too. Bummer.
3. It’s quite common for bits of skin on the nipple to come off during those first few weeks. It’s a bit like when you get a blister on your toe, when the blister heals that bit of your foot gets hardened and can stand the pressure. This isn’t cracking or mastitis, it’s just a bit grim.
4. Breastfeeding seems to make nipples very stretchy. You’ll be amazed at the lengths they can go to when little one decides to have a look around whilst latched on. You’ll be pleased to know this doesn’t hurt, it just looks rather alarming.
5. It is a great way to lose weight initially and it certainly helps getting your tummy back in shape, but beware, breastfeeding also makes you HUNGRY! I don’t mean a bit peckish, I mean, Mama bear just came out of hibernation, ravenous.
6. It’s harder to lose weight when you’re breastfeeding as your body just goes in to storage mode. It wants to make sure you have enough energy to make tasty milk for your baby, so hangs on to extra fat ferociously. Marvelous.
7. When breasts produce a lot of milk, they get a bit leaky, which is why breast-pads were invented. What happens with breast-pads though is that you always forget to put them in on the day your boobs decide to leak. I’ve lost count of the times my boobs have leaked in public, but it has been often and it has obvious. However on the bright side, breast milk doesn’t seem to stain, woo hoo! If it did then all my tops would look like they had headlights.
8. Boobs are VERY clever. They adjust the amount of milk they produce according to how much milk your baby needs. Say you went away from your baby for a few days and your milk levels went down during that time, it would only take just over a day for your boobs to get the message that they need to start producing milk again. Breasts don’t stop producing milk overnight, you’d probably find that you could have 3 months off and still have some milk!
9. Breastfeeding is great for lazy people. I know this because I am one. The idea of sterilizing bottles and making up formula seems like a lot of hard work to me, but then I didn’t sweep the kitchen floor for over a month once so I’m hardly an expert on hard-work in the home.
10. It’s possible to be very discrete when breastfeeding in public. You don’t have to wap out your entire boob if you’re out and about, you can use a scarf or just utilize the fact that you now have super stretchy nipples and feed the baby under the table.
11. Some babies can feed for ages and they’re not necessarily feeding for food, it may just be for comfort. Sam did this, and it was fabulous. We spent hours cuddling on the sofa watching rubbish telly. They were such lovely snug times and I’ll always remember them.
12. Although people may tell you that breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, nobody can prepare you for the wonder of looking down on your suckling babe, catching their eye and giggling with them whilst they ping your nipple in great hilarity. Now, that is precious. 😉