It’s often spoken of as the most natural thing in the world for new mums, but those first days of breastfeeding can be filled with awkwardness, uncertainty and worries about “doing it right”.
Here’s some of the things new mums might be thinking, as they attach baby to boob – and hope for the best!
1. So, um, I just get my boob out in front of everyone?!
Look, you do. Some women are happy to pop it out with little ado and don’t care about the audience. Others are keen to have a little privacy and keep things under wraps.
Both approaches are great, and in fact ANY approach to breastfeeding is fantastic, if it’s in line with what a new mum wants.
Get your boob out – in whichever way you like. It’s your right to feed your baby, so start as you mean to go on.
2. And this giant-ish nipple goes in that tiny little mouth?!
Hard to imagine, and a bit bracing to get used to, but the whole nipple really does go into that little rosebud baby mouth, if possible.
It can take a little while to feel confident and natural at this, but with a little practice and some advice from a trusted health professional (if a mum deems it appropriate and helpful) the boob-baby-mouth-combo will become almost-second nature.
3. Is anything even happening/coming out?!
When you first start breastfeeding, you may not feel anything much happening, apart from your baby busily learning to feed. This is because the fledgling milk, colostrum, isn’t as plentiful as the breast milk that follows it.
Once your milk “comes in” you will definitely feel the sensation of milk “letting down” and flowing, but prior to this, things are a little less sensational.
4. Is my baby a boob fail?
Perhaps your baby is fussing about a bit at the boob, and you think they’re flunking out at Breast 101? Chances are there is something else going on, and your baby is not a dunce in this department at all.
If you’re at the point where you think your baby is not good at boob, you’ve already tried things like creating a calm environment, ensuring his nappy is dry and making sure he’s extra-comfortable.
Get some advice from your Maternal Child Health nurse, they can help you discover why your baby is struggling and remedy the situation.
5. Why are my boobs lumpily reaching around into my armpits?!
You probably thought your pregnancy boobs were whoppers, until you met your postpartum, newly milk-filled boobs!
These useful and showy mammaries not only cut a fine, full figure, they take up as much space as possible as they ensure your baby has plenty to drink.
The good news is that the armpit/up-to-the-chin boobs settle down pretty quickly and can be kept at bay with regular feeding or pumping.
6. Will I ever have a dry shirt/non-soggy boob again?
You will… but always, always be prepared for the sog!
Breasts are amazing milk-creating marvels and they will damply let you know this at the following times: when they are full, when you hear your baby cry, when you hear someone else’s baby cry and when you absent-mindedly lean on them while you’re waiting in the line at the post office.
Breast pads were invented for a reason, so be sure to make use of them and carry a spare shirt if you’re finding your bountiful chest is constantly making its amazing superpowers known, wet t-shirt style.
7. Will I ever get used to the feeling/pain?
There are a few things you might be feeling when you feed your baby, and some of them are a little unsettling.
If you’re weirded out by the soggy/tugging/sucking feeling, know that you really will get used to that and may even not even notice it’s happening a few months down the track. We hear you though. It’s a whole new thing.
If you’re feeling pain, then that’s something to have a chat to your midwife or Maternal Child Health Nurse about. Very often it can take a while for your nipples to “toughen up” and the interim period can be a little painful, but this kind of pain can also be due to poor attachment, so get some advice about this, just to be sure.
Pain can also be a sign that you have a blocked milk duct – or an infection in your breast, called mastitis – so make sure you get any discomfort checked out so you know what you’re dealing with and can get it sorted quickly and keep everyone happy and healthy.
Breastfeeding comes naturally for some, but for so many mums it takes some time and a lot of dedication to get used to the task at hand.
Remember that if things are a bit bumpy in the breastfeeding department, reaching out for support and advice is the very best idea.