I Feel My Boobs- 8 Unglamorous Secrets About Breastfeeding

I touch my boobs a lot. I’m not kidding, a lot a lot. I’ve known this but recently I’ve noticed it even more.
Which got me thinking…
Breastfeeding: when your breasts see more action in one day as a breastfeeding parent than they typically do in a month when you’re not lactating. And that’s with an active and fun sex life. (See 9 Tips to Having More and Better Sex After Baby)
The other morning I woke up to rock hard boobs at 6am and in spite of it being a day when I was supposed to be able to sleep in and my baby was sound asleep, I had to get up. With my breasts full of milk, I was way too uncomfortable to sleep. My boobs were demanding I empty them and so while everyone else slept I joyfully got up and pumped.

Just kidding. I was decidedly not joyful.

I had not-so-nice-words for my pump, even though I like my pump and even though it typically seems to whisper encouragement when I’m pumping, this particular morning I swear it was hissing “eff you, eff you, eff you…”

(Yes, I’m grateful I can breastfeed and that I have enough milk to pump and be a milk donor and meet my baby’s needs but no, I wasn’t joyful to be up at 6am when I otherwise did not need to be.)
There have been a number of articles claiming to expose what nobody ever tells you about breastfeeding or what breastfeeding parents wish they knew about breastfeeding before they breastfed or what surprised them about breastfeeding. So many such articles (I’ve written a few myself), you’d think there was pretty much nothing that anyone actually knew about breastfeeding going into it. As though everyone must experience breastfeeding like “WHOA! NEVER SAW THAT COMIN’!”

Which is, honestly, kind of exactly what it is like. You just can’t REALLY know until you’re in it. There’s no way I would have truly understood just how much I’d be feeling my boobs until I was actually living it.

 While pumping before the sun was up that morning, I stated thinking again of some of the surprising aspects of breastfeeding and put together a new list for you. No, it doesn’t encompass everything and certainly we all have different experiences, but these were some of the ones that even I forget about.
Feeling yourself up. I never knew how often I’d touch my breasts but with breastfeeding I’m regularly handling them and not just to get baby latched. From quick little taps to see which side I should start my baby on to hand expression to breast massage to holding them if I dare the stairs when I’m braless to readjusting things through out the day (hey, they change a lot from one moment to the next!), I’m handling my boobs far more than I ever expected. At this point I do it frequently enough I’m pretty sure I do it in public without even noticing which probably looks a little strange to someone that hasn’t breastfed.
Waking the baby. Who would wake a sleeping baby? A desperate breastfeeding parent, that’s who. Listen, when you wake up and your boob hurts and there’s milk leaking everywhere and you know baby is going to be hungry at some point anyway, waking them to empty a breast that feels like it’s about to explode is basic survival. Besides, it’s not like they’re going to be disappointed.
A critical eye for boob-out-fashion. That dress looked super cute but… I couldn’t get a boob out and frankly we all know what would happen if baby got hungry and boobs started leaking and I couldn’t get the boob out to feed her. Cute or not, I’d rip it to shreds to get her what she needs.
Getting excited about pretty, comfortable, and functional bras. Ridiculously excited. It doesn’t look like a piece of hardware AND you can unclasp each side or pull down easily to feed baby? It’s like Christmas and my birthday all in one! Multiple color options? A touch of lace? Works with even lower cut tops? What is this sorcery? I must have it!
Human scratching post. Babies have razor blades for nails and also have a penchant for gripping things tightly, digging those nails into whatever comes near enough to grasp. Including boobs. Maybe specially boobs. It takes a lot to help baby get latched correctly, positioned comfortably, your breast supported, and somehow defend chest and breasts from baby Wolverine. Having boundaries, keeping their nails trimmed, and doing things like holding their hand or giving them something else to grasp can help or can just turn into a wrestling match with your boobs and chest bearing the brunt featuring welts, scratches, and stab wounds.
Ode to sour milk. I need nursing pads thanks to how much I leak and it can be at any moment. The breast pads help but the truth is I regularly smell like sour milk anyway. My bras, my tops, my sheets. I try to take comfort in the fact that this helps my baby recognize my smell.
So. Much. Time. In many ways breastfeeding can save time and often it can save money too but I am still surprised at just how much time I spend breastfeeding, preparing to breastfeed, thinking about breastfeeding, talking about breastfeeding, and in general, aware of breastfeeding. It may be natural but it didn’t come naturally for me so I spent a LOT of time on it and even when it did get easier, I still spend a lot of time on it. It’s a huge part of my daily life from washing pump parts to storing milk to wondering if that whiff of sour milk came from me to drooling over pretty nursing bras to actually feeding my baby to talking with other breastfeeding parents and sharing stories and information. It takes a lot of time and energy.

Skipping sleeping in. I wanted to sleep in that morning, desperately. There was no way. My breasts were killing me and I didn’t want to risk a clogged duct or possibly hurting my supply by not emptying them when they were full because my baby slept through a feeding. I skipped sleeping in to hook up to a machine that would empty my breasts. Naturally, when I was done putting everything away and laid back down hoping to catch a little more shut-eye, my baby woke up and was ready to feed and play.

It may be unglamorous but that’s a parenting fact, very little of bringing up tiny humans results in feeling put together and ready for the red carpet. But you can’t beat the smiles and snuggles that come with it!

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 21 years.
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Eight Things I Wish I’d Known About Breastfeeding the First Time Around…

by Sarah Saucedo

This post is generously made possible by Bamboobies

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Being pregnant with my third baby, I am fortunate to be able to reflect on two previous breastfeeding journeys. Two completely different journeys that both managed to encompass the good and the bad and fortunately were able to end on a high note, on my terms. Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting that my third time around will be all rainbows and butterflies now that I have had two previous children to ‘work out the kinks. ‘ No, unfortunately, babies and breastfeeding don’t work like that. But, thankfully, I was able to take away some helpful reminders from each of my children’s breastfeeding experiences and will be able to lean on them when baby number three makes his/her arrival. 

1. Babies aren’t born hungry, they are born to suck (literally)
When baby is born, after all the excitement of their arrival, is to latch them on the ‘eat.’ But really, baby latches on to stimulate their reflexes to rid themselves of meconium (dark green poop). Sure baby will get some much needed liquid gold (colostrum) during that first feed, but baby isn’t starving. I promise. Just wait to change those first few diapers and you’ll understand what I mean by them needing to clear out their systems!

2. Baby’s newborn tummy is tiny
Seriously, it is very, very small. Baby’s tummy at birth can actually be compared to about the size of a small cherry. To breaks that down even more, this equates to 1/2 tsp needed to fill their tummy up. Really! So, rest assured, the first few milliliters or colostrum is really all they need for the first few days.

3. Breastfeeding is learned for both mom and baby
Breastfeeding your newborn may not feel awesome the first few days or even week. It’s not necessarily because of any latch issues or positioning problems. It’s the fact that your new little one is attached and suckling your very sensitive breasts a lot. This will get better as you and baby learn. But if it doesn’t or if you start noticing trauma (bleeding or cracks) reach out for help! Breastfeeding isn’t supposed to hurt.

4. Remember to take care of yourself
We are often so focused on baby’s needs, the onesies, toys, car seats – you name it! It is important to remember that your body is and will be going through lots of changes and being prepared and getting support for yourself can make all the difference.

Even though breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy. Whether you are leaking, have sore nipples, or are working on a good latch getting the right products to support your breastfeeding journey is important. I experienced sore nipples with my second baby due to a tongue tie and by the time I knew what was happening, my case was so severe I needed ointments with antibiotics. This time around, I plan to have a preventive, healing nipple balm in my arsenal . bamboobies boob-ease® Organic Nipple Balm is amazing for sore and cracked nipples. It’s new mom nipple TLC and doesn’t have to be washed off before baby nurses.

In addition to sore nipples, with my first, I leaked a lot and was going through disposable nursing pads like there was no tomorrow. Not only was it not cost efficient but the feel of the disposable nursing pads was less than ideal. This time around I plan to use bamboobies® Washable Nursing Pads. Not only are these washable nursing pads eco-friendly but they are ultra-soft and absorbent! They are also a great registry item!

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5. Bonding Time
Until you have recovered and you and baby have learned the ropes together, breastfeeding will involve a lot of couch time or at least sitting down. I was antsy at first and felt that I should be doing more. But really, what can you do when baby wants to eat every two to three hours and each feeding takes 30-45 minutes? Rest, relax, bond with baby and get caught up on all of your favorite TV series while baby is satiated. Breastfeeding will get easier and more mobile (you’ll be eating dinner while baby eats soon enough), but again, it takes time. And that’s ok!

6. Breastfeeding can happen in any position
Piggybacking on the last point, you will eventually feel comfortable to nurse in whatever position is most comfortable, convenient, or simply-the one baby will nurse in at that moment (gymnastics anyone?!) Breastfeeding looks different from mama to mama and that’s because it needs to feel right for mom and baby! I thought the cradle hold was the only way with my first. With my second, I realized that nursing can happen laid back, laying on my side, with a cross hold, a football hold, over my should (my toddler taught me this one). Once the possibilities of positioning opened up, I had a much more enjoyable experience breastfeeding in a comfortable manner.

7. Yes, dad can be involved
Breastfeeding seems like a feeding method that leaves all the responsibility on mom. However, your partner can be involved in more ways that just bottle feeding baby. Ask them to bring you snacks or water during a cluster feed, the remote/phone/book when you are trapped under a fussy nursling. Ask for a foot rub or just plain l’adult conversation when you feel you need it. Breastfeeding takes a lot out of mom so your partner’s support is always helpful and can be a moral e booster when needed. 

8. Pumping is not indicative of supply
If there comes a time when you need/want to pump, don’t be alarmed at the little amount you may see in the bottle. With my first baby, I was going to school full time. I pumped all the time with a double electric, hospital grade pump. In return, my body thought I was producing for very hungry twins and my output during my pumping sessions reflected that. I was able to feed baby on pumped milk for about six months before my supply dropped.

With my second, however, I was a stay at home mom. I had no reason to pump. So, when the occasional date night happened, I did not respond to the pump as well. I could maybe pump and ounce or two, although my second child and I had a very healthy breastfeeding relationship that lasted for over two and a half years with no issues of low supply. Rest assured, babies are very efficient at emptying the breast, more so than the pump, thinking your supply is reflected by the amount you are able to pump is not helpful and can in fact cause unneeded stress.

Every breastfeeding journey you may embark on with each new baby will be different. This is simply because every child and situation is different. I had two completely different, yet both successful (to me) breastfeeding journeys. I was able to learn from them and can only hope to use these lessons and tips from the first two with my third baby. Breastfeeding and the relationship you create with your child(ten) will never look exactly the same to the nest baby or even compared to your friend’s journey, and that is ok! Enjoy what works best for you!

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Sarah is a mom of two wonderful boys, and is expecting her third child in March! She is bamboobie’s support maven as well as a Certified Lactation Educator and Counselor and is passionate about all things breastfeeding. 
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