I’m a pretty hippie crunchy homebirthing mama, but I have to say – there are aspects to breastfeeding that no one likes to talk about. We want people to breastfeed SO BADLY we feel like telling them of the hard stuff will make them bolt.
I say we prepare new moms instead.
Here are what I believe to be the under belly ugly truthiness facts (that I personally experienced) about breastfeeding that no one will tell you:
1. Drips, stains, leaks oh my – I am starting out slow here – there just cannot be enough said about how often your shirt will be covered in milk. It takes a while for the learning curve of when to use the nursing pads, which type you prefer, how often to change them, all of that – to kick in. And everyone knows those aren’t just regular water stains on your shirt.
2. Limited clothing – you have to always dress in a manner that allows you to pull out a boob. Dresses are only possible if it’s a special (nursing) dress. You will also likely start wearing layers making your hot water ballon boobs even hotter on your chest.
3. Weight gain – If you’re like me at all, you won’t be one of those mom’s who lose weight with nursing, but actually gain weight. Or at least keep it on as long as you’re nursing. It’s different for everyone, but it seemed like my body wanted to hold on to the extra stuff in case of famine.
4. Less sex – it’s true, you’ll feel so touched out you really don’t want much to do with your partner. I think this is nature’s contraception too – expect a reduce in libido.
5. Limits on food and drink – you may have already figured this out, but tons of babies nowadays have food allergies that babies never used to have. Expect to have to cut dairy, sugar, wheat, soy, corn, or all of the above from your diet for awhile.
6. It hurts like heck – the first couple weeks are rough. REALLY rough. You have to get used to it, your nipples have to recover from the shock, the relationship between you and your baby is new enough that the latch might not always be perfect. The beginning is really hard for a lot of moms.
7. Stretched out boobs forever – yes, this really is true. They get so yanked on (especially after a few kids) that there’s really no hope of perkiness ever again without the help of surgery.
8. You feel trapped – unless you’re also going to become a pumping pro you will feel trapped some days. Maybe if you’re prone to PPD like I was, you’ll feel trapped a LOT of days. You may feel like you never get a break or that the responsibility of being the only one who can feed your baby is too much to bear. Those will be the hard days.
9. It’s sacrifice – in case you can’t tell from this list, breastfeeding involves a ton of sacrifice. For some moms their lives can’t work under this kind of pressure and keep them sane. It’s a big decision.
10. It’s all still completely worth it – I can tell you I listed each of these here because I personally experienced all of this. And yet, I long for those nursing days. I felt like a triumphant mother on my good nursing days. I had a deep connection with each of my babies because of our nursing relationship and I felt good knowing they were getting such epic nutrients. On my good days, and there were many, I was amazed at what my body could do, that I alone could nurture and nature my baby. Not one of these ugly truths held a candle to the truth of what the experience meant to me – and that was total trust between my baby and I.
We were one during that phase of life.
And from then on each baby got too big to nurse, then too big to be held all the time, then too big to sit in my lap all the time and then too big to need me all night long. Hands down, breastfeeding was the best decision I made for my babies when they were born.
Learn more about one woman’s experience: Breasts After Breastfeeding