Before I had my first son, I had ony heard of ALL the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding. There is no denying that breastfeeding is the best. I did quickly find out with my second son that there are various things that I never knew about breastfeeding. These topics were never discussed. While breastfeeding is a beautiful bonding moment between you and your baby, it has a dark side! Here are 9 things I have found in my breastfeeding journey I did not want to hear.
Your breasts will be lopsided at some point
Ideally, you want to switch breasts with each nursing session. This allows each breast to empty and signals your body to produce more milk. If you nurse your baby and they refuse your second breast, one will be full and the other empty, thus creating lopsided breasts. For some mothers, their baby will only eat from one breast causing the neglected breast to dry up. This often happens when one breast flows easier than the other breast. As far as lopsided breasts go, over time it gets better. However, for some mothers, uneven boobs is the new black.
Your Breasts May Leak
With my first son, I rarely leaked. When I did, it was not enough to cause ruckus over. That quickly changed with my second. I would hear phantom baby cries and start leaking like a geyser! A baby crying signals your let down which is what causes the leaking. This is why it is suggested that mothers who exclusively pump while their baby is in NICU record and listen to their baby cry during pumping sessions. You can be at the park and hear another baby crying and start leaking! Be prepared to have your shirt soaked at some point in your breastfeeding journey. Carry an extra t-shirt with you and always keep breast pads on hand.
It Is Difficult
Breastfeeding is not easy, but it is instinctual. Not only do you have to learn this process, so does your baby. Each baby is different, so what worked with one may not work with another. Your baby can experience a number of issues that make breastfeeding more challenging. A few include:
- Your baby having a NICU visit
- Tongue, lip and cheek ties
- Dairy, soy, gluten allergies
- Babies born pre-mature
- Thrush (yeast infection in baby’s mouth and on your nipples)
Each mother experiences her own issues with her breastfeeding journey. I found that reaching out to support groups on Facebook saved my sanity. I also had a friend of mine who worked nights that answered so many of my questions and pushed me to not give up. “Just one more session.” She would tell me. Having your family on board with breastfeeding is also a huge help. No mother ants to hear “Just give him formula” on the nights she is worn out, tired and exhausted.
Thrush Is Very Common
Before I had my first, I had NEVER heard of thrush. When he got thrush, I had zero knowledge about it. A family member mentioned it to me and my response was “How could he have thrush, we were just at the doctors yesterday…… Wait… What is thrush?” Yeast thrives in warm moist places. Many woman have experienced a yeast infection before and they SUCK! Thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth. It is extremely painful for babies which is why it causes issues with latching. A baby with thrush will not want to latch properly if it is causing them pain to do so. They will also un-latch improperly causing you extreme pain. Your nipples can also get thrush from your baby’s mouth. This will make your nipples have a pink color to them along with severe cracks. With my first he had what I would consider extreme thrush. It became so painful for me to breastfeed after he latched improperly and almost ripped my nipple off. Seriously. I had a rip from one side to the other.
So, what does thrush look like? Thrush will be white specks in the mouth that you cannot wipe off with a wet cloth. Catching this as early as possible is key! The doctors will prescribe medicine for the baby and your nipples. It is also recommended that you sterilize pacifiers, bottles, pump parts (anything that your nipple or babies mouth comes in contact with) until the thrush has subsided.
What Is Sleep?
It is no mystery that babies wake up many times during the night. I do believe that I was misled with my first as he slept AMAZING and still does at age four! My second is seven months and still wakes around five times a night. My second is the baby who taught me to VALUE sleep. From the get go, he would not sleep well. He was constantly crying because he was not getting enough due to tongue lip and cheek ties. Then, we discovered dairy and soy allergies. He is now 7 months old and neither of us know what sleep is. There is no sleeping through the night. I have probably not slept an entire night in a year or so. Motherhood is fun, right?!
Pumping – Another Adventure
During the course of my son’s ties, I as exclusively pumping. It took 1.5 hours for me to pump leaving 30 minutes to feed him. By that point, it was time to start the process all over again. he had lost weight, so I feared letting him sleep longer than 2 hours without eating. Pumping, in my own opinion, is more difficult than breastfeeding. Especially if you are exclusively pumping. You have to find the right nipple shield for your breasts. If you don’t pump, you become engorged. If you aren’t nursing you face clogged ducts and mastitis. Am I pumping enough? Am I pumping too much? How do you store milk? Before feeding, the milk has to be warmed in a bowl of water….. This added in to my lack of sleep. Parts to be cleaned. Parts to be replaced. Then everything is going great until your pump gives up on life.
Engorgement = Sweating
This is something I had not read or heard of ever before. When your breasts start to fill up, YOU WILL SWEAT! I thought I was losing my mind! I was the only one sweating, constantly cranking the ac down trying to cool off. Truth be told, it takes a lot of work for your breasts to produce milk. The more engorged you become, the more you will sweat!
Clogged Ducts And Mastitis
At some point many mother experience clogged ducts. This occurs when a breast is not fully emptied. If it is not treated, it can quickly become mastitis. Mastitis is an infection caused by untreated clogged ducts. A red warm lump and fever are common symptoms of mastitis. If you are pumping, you are more prone to clogged ducts. A baby is the best way to get rid of clogged ducts. They are the best at emptying the breasts! I was exclusively pumping and had clogged ducts NON STOP! I was constantly massaging and applying warm compresses.
Your Breasts Become A Hot Topic
When you are breastfeeding, EVERYONE wants to know how it is going. How the baby is latching. If your nipples are cracked. Your 4-year-old will stare in amazement as his sibling eats from your boob. He will also make sure all of Sonny’s knows that his brother is crying because he will not latch onto mommy’s breast properly. Your mother wants to watch you nurse to ensure you are doing it properly. You are constantly researching about nipple shield sizes and latching and sending pics to professionals. Doctor appointments are often filled with breast talk. If you are having issues, like I did, all you think, breathe and do is about the boobs.
I am sure there is many more I could add to this list. These are the top 9 that stood out to me that I had never heard and did not want to know. What are some things you did not want to hear about breastfeeding?