Breastfeeding is a natural thing, but it does not necessarily mean that it will come naturally to any mother.
There are many ways to learn the ropes of breastfeeding. You can read books about it or attend classes. For personal coaching, you can go to a lactation consultant, or you can pay your mom a visit. You will get a lot of valuable tips from her about rearing your child.
But it seems like all the education in the world will never prepare you for the realities of breastfeeding.
If you are planning to breastfeed, you might want to know a few candid things about it. While breastfeeding is a beautiful thing, there will be awkward moments and moments that will catch you off-guard.
Breastfeeding will create a strong bond between you and your baby. If you want to know more about breastfeeding, here are 10 things that you can expect to happen.
10 Things You Might Want to Know About Breastfeeding
1. Breastfeeding hurts – and not just around the breast area.
You will feel some pressure while breastfeeding, but if you feel pain during the first time you breastfeed, don’t be alarmed. While pain may be attributed to improper latch, it is also very possible to feel pain even with the correct latch. After all, a newborn baby can be a voracious sucker.
Aside from breast pain, breastfeeding can also cause you to feel pain in your womb. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin. This hormone causes your uterus to contract and shrink to return to its original size.
2. Breastfeeding will cause you to eat a lot and drink a lot.
Breastfeeding will make you hungry all the time! Your body uses up a lot of the calories you consume to produce milk for your baby. It is no wonder why your body begs you to refuel every now and then. You will also feel terribly thirsty, so drink up!
While it may feel tempting to eat anything, you still need to be careful and maintain a healthy diet. Your baby is getting nutrients from you, so eat healthy. Also, some of the foods you eat may irritate your baby’s gentle stomach, so take note of these.
3. Your newborn baby is not going to need a lot of milk, at least not yet.
If you worry that you are not producing enough milk, the truth is your newborn baby is not going to need much at first. In fact, during the first day, your newborn baby’s stomach capacity is only 5-7 ml. That’s as much as a shooter marble.
Don’t forget to let your newborn baby drink your colostrum even if you think you are only producing a few drops. This magic liquid is chock-full of nutrients that will build your baby’s immune system. Your baby, again, will not need much, but they will definitely benefit from the goodness of colostrum.
4. But your baby will be breastfeeding more often than you thought.
Another thing you might not know about breastfeeding is how you do not really need to worry about timing your feeds. You also don’t need to measure how much your baby is getting. To know if you baby gets enough milk, count the number of wet diapers they have (5-6 in 24 hours). Another full-proof way to know this is to track your baby’s weight.
However, you might be surprised to know that your newborn baby needs milk more often than you thought. Because mother’s milk is very easy to digest, and because your baby’s stomach is so tiny, they need to feed every now and then.
5. You may lose a lot of weight while breastfeeding, or you may not.
As previously stated, you will have to consume more calories because your body will be using them up to manufacture your baby’s milk. You will be hungry all the time. But the good news is that you may not gain a lot of weight. On the contrary, you may even lose so much weight.
Of course, this is not true for every single breastfeeding mom. If you are eating more than what your body needs to produce milk, you may not lose a lot of weight. So it is still helpful to watch what you eat.
6. There is such a thing as breastfeeding let-down, and you need to be ready.
Nursing pads are heaven-sent nursing mom essentials! Once your baby has started breastfeeding, you will experience the let-down reflex. This happens when your breasts are stimulated by your baby’s sucking, signaling the release of oxytocin. This causes your milk glands to contract and produce milk.
You need to be ready because let-down can happen anytime – even when your baby is not currently breastfeeding. For example, the sound of another baby crying when you are out grocery shopping can trigger the let-down reflex. Thus, be ready with nursing pads to catch the milk flow!
7. Eating galactagogues may help… or it may not.
Galactagogues are food substances that claim to increase milk supply. Examples of galactagogues are oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, and brewer’s yeast. For moms who have low milk supply, consuming galactagogues may be helpful.
However, not every mom benefits from galactagogues. For some, these foods do not have an effect at all on their milk supply. To increase your milk supply, it is still best to do the following: maintain skin-to-skin contact and increase the frequency of feeding.
8. It is totally normal to have one breast producing more milk than the other.
If you think that one of your breasts feels heavier than the other, you might be right. This happens when you prefer to feed from one breast. This can also happen because your baby seems to be more comfortable feeding from one breast over the other.
While this is normal, it can feel quite uncomfortable. To prevent this from happening, practice feeding equally from both breasts. It is also really helpful to track which breast you used last to avoid accidentally using the same breast one too many times.
9. Knowing the most comfortable breastfeeding position is vital.
Your whole body participates in the breastfeeding process, not just your breasts. You will want to set up a comfortable breastfeeding corner with a cozy chair and a soft nursing pillow. Look out for your back, which can get strained when you are bearing your baby’s weight without support.
Don’t forget about your legs, too! It can get uncomfortable if your lap is too far from your breasts, so bring them to a higher position. For this, it is useful to get a stool for you to place your feet on.
10. Breastfeeding eventually gets easier.
Breastfeeding is definitely challenging especially during the first weeks. But after you have gotten the hang of it, you will discover that it can be much easier and convenient. It is best to master a particular position that works best for you and your baby – whether it’s sitting down or lying down.