8 Breastfeeding Facts Every Mom Must Know About
Are you excited to meet your newborn but don’t know anything about breastfeeding?
Keep reading and find out about the 8 Breastfeeding Facts Every First-Time Mom Must Know About!
Whenever I thought about breastfeeding, it just felt so
easy and natural to me. I thought that all women can breastfeed since it’s what nature „wants“ us to do.
Breastfeeding will come naturally once my baby is born and I will learn with time.
I actually „managed“ to breastfeed my daughter until she turned 5 months old. It was quite a journey and I wanted to give up a couple of times during those months. But I didn’t. Once I finally got used to breastfeeding and started „enjoying“ it more, my daughter started weaning herself off. Another thing I never thought about before.
Anyway, there are a few things I wish I knew before I started breastfeeding my daughter. These facts would have definitely helped me mentally to keep going without losing my mind.
Today I will share those 8 Breastfeeding Facts in the hope they will save your sanity and enable an easier Breastfeeding Journey!
1. Milk Supply
Before I gave birth, I thought that my milk supply would shoot in right after my baby was born. Or at least a few hours after that. But guess what, that’s not what happens.
I gave birth on Friday at 10:43 p.m. My milk however started coming in on Wednesday at around 2 a.m. So almost 4 days passed before I was able to actually feed my daughter breastmilk. Every woman is different, as well as the time their milk will come in. But in general, it takes around 3-6 days until your breastmilk will start flowing.
You may ask yourself: What do babies eat during that time tho? Don’t worry, nature got you covered.
Colostrum is a yellow, pretty thin liquid that your body starts producing during pregnancy. You will only produce a little amount since your baby’s stomach is still super tiny and doesn’t fit that much anyway. It is very beneficial to feed the colostrum to your newborn.
Even if you are not planning to breastfeed, you should think about feeding it to your baby in the beginning before switching to formula. This golden liquid is filled with protein and antibodies and will help your newborn thrive during the first few days of life.
3. Baby’s Latch
Most women think that every newborn knows what to do once brought to the breast. Well, chances are your baby is going to be as confused as you in the beginning. Babies don’t attach themselves perfectly and just start feeding. They actually need some practice to properly latch on to your nipple in order to be able to drink your colostrum/breastmilk.
It can get very frustrating to help your baby latch, especially if they are screaming and wiggling out of hunger. Just don’t give up and ask a midwife or lactation consultant for help. Once your baby latched, it may feel super weird at first.
You can also watch some videos online or do a breastfeeding online class before going into labor. This way you are much better prepared and know what to expect.
The best advice I ever got: Bring your baby’s nose (not mouth) to your nipple, press your boob into a burger and slide it down into your baby’s opened mouth. Your baby’s mouth should be wide open and you should see a movement in the back of their jaw.
Here is an image I found on Simple Wikipedia
4. Baby’s Suck
Another thing that doesn’t always come naturally for our babies is the sucking part. Some babies are just natural talents and will suck your breast like a champ. But some babies will have little idea what to do once latched to your nipple. The strength of the sucking is very important for the amount of milk your baby is getting.
So in case your baby’s suck is very weak and they still seem hungry after every feeding, you may consider pumping some of your breastmilk and feeding it to your newborn until their suck gets stronger. Our daughter was born very big (10 lbs 7 oz) with an even bigger appetite. My colostrum was just not enough for her so I had to feed her some formula after every breastfeeding session.
After a while, her suck became very strong and once my milk started coming in, I was able to stop supplementing with formula. So don’t beat yourself up in case you can’t get your newborn satisfied in the first few days or weeks. If you decide to continue to breastfeed, just stick to it. Keep going and it will get easier with each day. You can and maybe should contact a lactation consultant and ask for advice. My midwife actually helped me a lot and without her, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
5. Breastfeeding Hurts
You probably heard about it before or figured it out while reading the mentioned facts so far.
Breastfeeding hurts. It hurts a lot.
Just because it’s what „nature designed our breast for“, doesn’t mean it won’t irritate your nipples and cause you a lot of pain. I mean we are also „designed“ to have sex and as far as I remember, that stuff hurts the first few times we are doing it. Right?
The same goes for breastfeeding. Your nipples have to get used to constant stimulation. Since your baby most likely won’t know how to latch right in the beginning, it will irritate your nipples even more.
I don’t want to scare you, but my nipples even started bleeding after the second day. Our daughter just wouldn’t latch on correctly but had a pretty strong suck right from the beginning. Which means she sucked on all the wrong places and literally abused my nipples.
After I told a midwife about my struggles, she suggested using a nipple shield and it SAVED MY LIFE. Everything worked out smoothly afterward and once my nipples were healed, breastfeeding stopped hurting. It still felt weird and sometimes uncomfortable to me, but I got used to that feeling pretty quickly and after a while, I stopped noticing it.
Just because your nipples stop hurting after a while, the pain is not over yet:
6. Engorged Breasts & Plugged Milk Ducts
Here is where the „fun“ begins. First of all, you may ask yourself how you know your breastmilk is finally coming in… well, you will just know. To me, it felt like a very strong immunization running threw my breast veins.
Once my milk was coming in, my boobs would get super big and just felt very engorged. Sometimes it felt like I was carrying around two very heavy stones. The more often your baby eats during the day, the more milk your boobs will produce. But if you suddenly stop feeding your baby at a usual time, your boobs will engorge and it may cause some plugged milk ducts.
Let’s say you always feed your baby at 01:00 a.m., which goes on for a couple of days. Your boobs will know that your newborn wants to eat during that time at night and will, therefore, produce milk. Amazing, right? Well, not so amazing anymore once your baby stops waking up at that time and continues to sleep. Your boobs don’t know that in advance. They will still produce milk for your baby and chances are you are going to wake up in your wet, milky sheets with hot, hurting boobs.
If that ever happens to you, go ahead and gently pump some of that milk. You can even use your hands and a warm towel to do that. Just don’t pump too much milk, otherwise, your boobs will continue producing it. You only need to do it until your boobs feel less engorged and a little softer.
7. Breastfeeding In Public
The day will come when you finally feel comfortable breastfeeding your baby. Your milk supply is regulated, your nipples don’t hurt anymore and your breast is no longer engorged. That took around 3-4 weeks for me.
For a moment, you think you got everything under control and finally mastered motherhood. You will decide to go out for lunch or do some grocery shopping on your own. All of a sudden, you will realize that you now have to feed your baby in public. For me that meant: Pulling down my bra and shirt, putting on my nipple shield, making sure that my daughter latches on the right way and ignore all the curious but also judging stares of the people around me.
Don’t worry Mama, you can do it. Just make sure to prepare yourself for a breastfeeding session in public. Maybe you want to pack a breastfeeding cover. Maybe you feel more comfortable pumping before you head out and feeding your baby with a bottle. Just do what feels like the best way for you!
As often in life, preparation is key!
8. You Will Most Likely Hate & Love It
So after reading all these „negative“ things about breastfeeding, you may ask yourself why anyone decides to breastfeed in the first place…
Well, simply because it is one of the most rewarding, beautiful, and amazing experiences you will ever have. The bond you will create with your baby is going to be so strong and you will love the time and moment only the two of you get to spend together.
Also, breastmilk contains everything your newborn needs. It provides them with so many great nutrients and helps them thrive and grow into healthy and strong babies. Just knowing that you are the one feeding your baby only with what your own body provides is a crazy good feeling.
Breastfeeding is, at least for most women, one of those things you just love and hate at the same time.
That does not mean you won’t have a strong bond when feeding your baby formula. You can still create a routine for only you and your baby that imitates breastfeeding and will help you feel just as close. I made the experience after my daughter weaned herself off. I was so devastated and sad in the beginning but after a while, I got used to the bottle and found a way to create the same intimate atmosphere I had before. Same thing for exclusively pumping moms.
Plus, my daughter is still getting everything she needs from her formula and is a healthy little sunshine. Just because you may feed your baby formula does not mean they have a lack of nutrients. Just make sure to choose a good brand that provides them with everything they need to grow and develop.
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