Updated: Dec 31, 2022
Most of us are familiar with the basics of breastfeeding, but there are a lot of little things that you just have to learn yourself, based off of your own unique breastfeeding experience. If you've been following my motherhood journey via BOOBELIFE for the past 8+ years, you know a little something about the victories and challenges of my two very different and unique breastfeeding experiences. . Every experience is unique, and I can only share my own with you my own. From thrush and sore nipples to heartbreak and dating, I've been through it all while breastfeeding. I breastfed my son for 4 months and my daughter for 4 years and both experiences were completely different! Here are five things no one has told you about breastfeeding!
1. It doesn’t always happen right away! Many moms struggle with getting their baby to latch on properly or have difficulty producing enough milk in the early days after giving birth or in their entire first breastfeeding experience. This can be frustrating for both mom and baby but don’t give up hope—with patience and perseverance, most moms eventually find success in breastfeeding their babies. It’s hard work! Let’s face it—breastfeeding can be difficult and challenging, just like bottle feeding! From mastering the latch to dealing with sore nipples and engorgement, it takes time to get the hang of it. But don’t get discouraged and think "I'm not meant to do this" because truly, you are and it does get easier with practice and the right support! The best advice is to just keep at it and remember that your efforts will pay off in the end, practice makes perfect and progress doesn't happen right away. I breastfed my first child for 4 months and my second for 4 years! If I would've labeled myself as unable to nurse the first time around, I would've never had the opportunity to actually enjoy breastfeeding my second child for so long.
2. Give your boobs days off! In the first few weeks and months of breastfeeding, I struggled with chapped nipples and thrush of all things! If you don't know what thrush is, it's a yeast infection that happens anywhere on the body including orally and on the boobs! Long story short, my nipples were in serious pain in the beginning, while exclusively breastfeeding. We went through 3 nipple shields and even when we found the right size, they didn't make things easier, like I thought. It was just too painful to nurse when the nipples were suffering so I bought milk catchers and when one boob was in pain and in need of a day off, I would slather it in boob balm and use a milk catcher all day to capture and save my leaking milk for future bottle feeds while the boob took a day off with no touching or contact from my baby's mouth. By the next day, my boob was recovered and ready to breastfeed while the opposite boob took a day off, if needed. This worked wonder for us when she was really small and it was still learning to breastfeed.
3. You don't have to breastfeed in public. I had big boobs when breastfeeding. They definitely are not small and perky! Also, babies usually don't like eating with their faces covered (who would?!) Mine absolutely did not! So it was never to easy breastfeed in public for me!
I pushed through anyways because I wanted to be a part of the breastfeed anywhere movement but eventually I realized that I was most comfortable nursing my kids in private or where there weren't many people. Stares from judgmental women and perverted men and unwanted energy from people all around just turned me off to it. It did make breastfeeding while out and about more challenging but I made it happen by using my car, a quiet corner or a room, a bedroom, or nursing station. There are a lot of them now. Sometimes life got crazy and there were times I would just whip it out in public for the sake of my mental health and/or baby's comfort lol. I was at a fun brunch once with girlfriends and I was so relaxed and having great conversations with friends that I didn't want to get up and find a place to nurse. My daughter needed it right then and there so I just put on my F it pants and went for it. It went surprisingly smooth and everyone was so supportive. A couple of rushed grocery trips with two cranky kids called for my to nurse in public too sometimes but we survived. Basically, I breastfed in public when I had to but chose more often to nurse privately whenever possible. Nursing in public doesn't have to be your thing.
4. Dating and Breastfeeding happens If you've followed my journey, you know I left my 10 year relationship when my youngest was two. When she was four, I started trying to date again. It was so new and weird to me! She was still nursing at least twice a day at this point. Sex again after so long and while still breastfeeding and with someone new was wild to me! At first, I dealt with conflicting feelings of shame and guilt for wanting to get back out there. Soon after though, I started to give myself grace and eventually enjoyed a couple of encounters as a single woman again that I truly enjoyed before she stopped breastfeeding all together. Coincidentally, she chose to stop nursing around that very time as she started preschool and maybe felt my new energy. It was bittersweet. I knew I would miss it but I also felt like we were both ready and I felt a new exciting sense of freedom and independence again..at least a little lol. You might notice several changes to your sex drive and sexual desires during the postpartum and breastfeeding period. While this can be really confusing, it’s also completely normal. Being a single mom while breastfeeding can make it even more taboo but what's important is that you honor yourself and body and take your time to discover and do what feels right for you.
5. It can be really rewarding! Once you and your baby master the art of breastfeeding , you will enjoy some amazing moments together while nursing. Not only is it incredibly nourishing for your baby but there are also many benefits for mom as well—from helping her uterus contract back to its pre-pregnancy size to promoting bonding between mother and child. It will help build confidence in yourself! Breastfeeding requires a lot of hard work but once you finally get into a good rhythm with it, you will find yourself feeling more confident than ever before about your ability as a mom to provide for your baby's needs. That feeling alone makes it all worthwhile! I developed a new self empowerment and compassion for my self along with a strong bond and connection with my kids!
While there may be some challenges along the way, these five things no one has told you about breastfeeding should help you prepare you for what lies ahead on this beautiful journey with your little one. I hope that this article gave you some insight into a few things you may not have known about breastfeeding. Every experience is unique, and I can only share my own with you my own. If you're currently breastfeeding or thinking about it, go in with an open mind and remember that every journey looks different. What are some things that you learned from your own unique breastfeeding experience? Share in the comments below!