If you’re gearing up to embark on a breastfeeding journey, or even if you’ve already trekked many miles with your milk-filled mammaries – make a cuppa, pull up a seat and have a browse through our (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) look at what breastfeeding mums need to know.
1. Breastfeeding may not come naturally to you
Take it from a mum who struggled to breastfeed both of her children, while it may appear breastfeeding is innate in both mothers and babies – don’t be fooled. For most mums and bubs, this is a learned behaviour – and a steep curve at that. Don’t be discouraged or disheartened if it doesn’t quite go the way you had planned and hoped. That’s a great attitude for parenting in general! But don’t suffer in silence, either. Seek help either through your GP or lactation consultant.
2. You’ll usually have two hands free
Breastfeeding will probably give you the most freedom to use both of your hands for any given task. Just prop your baby on a nursing pillow while they feed, and you’re free to knit, eat your lunch, complete your thesis (or just Pin stuff you’ll never get around to doing). Ironically, though, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who is co-ordinated enough to be able to walk and breastfeed, you’ll be confined to just one spot. So it’s freedom, with a price.
3. Large breasts don’t mean more milk – but they do take some sorting
Don’t be fooled into thinking big boobs = litres of free flowing breastmilk. Likewise, don’t assume small breasts means less milk. It doesn’t work that way, trust me. However, larger breasts do pose a problem for some nursing mums (namely me) – so here’s a little tip for the massive mammary brigade. Grab one of your baby’s muslin cloths, and roll it into a small log shape. This can be placed under your breast to give it a handy, non-surgical lift that may help with attachment, especially when your baby is still little.
4. Your breasts will leak
This may seem elementary for some mums – but I was completely unaware of the whole breasts-leaking-scenario right up until after I gave birth and soaked through my first maternity bra. I questioned my midwife, “What’s going on here? Do I need those breast pad things all the time?” Funny now, but I was clueless! So for those of you in preparation mode, let me pass on my knowledge so you can avoid embarrassment (and ruined bras). Yes, your breasts will leak – usually quite a bit at first. They will leak between feeds. They will leak when you hear your baby crying. They will leak when you get out of the shower. They’ll leak when you’re shopping (you won’t notice until you get home, and then all of the strange looks will make sense). The solution is to pop a couple of breastfeeding pads into your bra. I don’t think you can go past ones that have an adhesive strip, so they stay in place.
5. Another baby crying will mean your boobs will spring into action
Even if your baby is out of your sight and earshot, the sound of another hungry infant is often enough to kickstart happy hour at your mammary milk bar. Again – breast pads are your friend!
6. You won’t need a clock
Because your breasts will keep perfect time. Whether your baby is feeding in two hour blocks or four hourly increments, your clever breasts will turn on like a tap when it’s time to feed.
7. Whatever size nursing bra you think you’ll need, go bigger
I’m ‘blessed’ in the boob area – and I seriously thought they could not possibly get any bigger. But the pretty, lacy maternity bras I purchased were no match for my goliath cleavage once my milk came in. Speaking of which – you can also expect your breasts to look different. They’ll likely start to resemble a map of sorts, where the roadways are actually veins. Not exactly pretty, but remember they’re doing their job – so be proud!
8. A hot drink is nothing but a distant memory
When we’re relaxed and peaceful (which is usually the case when breastfeeding), the call of a warming beverage is very alluring. Whether it be coffee or tea, it’s the perfect time for a brew. Except it isn’t. Breastfeeding and hot drinks really don’t mix. Because, while it may appear your baby is calm and content, there’s nothing they like more than being distracted while feeding. Sudden movements from little feeders are very common, and these, combined with hot drinks, can mean third degree burns for you. Or worse, for baby. So you’ll have to stick to starting to drink several lukewarm beverages when you’re not feeding, but never actually finishing them.
9. Your boobs become child’s play
Breasts are not just a source of nourishment for your baby, they’re also a source of comfort. And entertainment. So you may find your baby quite enjoys patting your breast while they feed. You may also find that your baby will take to pulling your top down anywhere and any time they want a feed. So here’s a friendly reminder to always be on guard!
10. You may not always love it, but it is amazing
There are times when breastfeeding is tough. It can hurt, it can be difficult, it can be inconvenient. But it’s also beautiful. My absolute favourite feed was the one right before bed. When my babies were still warm and smelling delicious from their bath. They were calm and content. The house was mostly silent – and there was the promise of at least 45 minutes of unbroken sleep ahead. Take the time to look down at your baby, and feel all the feels, because it’s gone all too quickly.