Breastfeeding is such a crazy experience. If you’re preggy and getting ready for the new baby, I’m sure you’re reading all kinds of blog posts about breastfeeding. Maybe you just had your baby and you’re wondering if things are normal.
So how do you know what to expect when you’re breastfeeding?
Back in the day when I had my sons, I decided to breastfeed based on the recommendation of my doctor. She made sure to tell me all about the benefits for the baby, and I was all in! I was ready to nourish this tiny new life with my boobs.
However… she didn’t tell me what to expect at all! This was way back in 2000 - before blogs or online resources for breastfeeding existed.
I was SUPER lucky and had zero problems with my production or getting my son to latch, thank god! But I was fully unprepared for all the nuts and bolts of what would happen to my body.
Now, breastfeeding is different for everyone - and it’s different from baby to baby. I wasn’t so lucky with my second son - I had almost no milk production, and I had to switch to formula when he was a few months old.
Just keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different, and yours is just as valid as anyone else’s! That being said, here’s a list of what to expect when you’re breastfeeding.
- Your breast milk might not come in for a few days. Don’t panic - keep breastfeeding. If you stop, your body will get the signal it’s not needed.
- Breast milk doesn’t look like milk from the supermarket. Especially at first - it will look yellow! That’s because it contains colostrum - that’s a crucial, nutrient and antibody rich substance that your body makes to feed an nourish a fragile newborn.
- Your boobs will leak. Ummmm yeah. You will need to stuff things into your bra so that milk doesn’t leak everywhere. Your boobs will leak if you’re on a feeding schedule but you’re away from baby - like when you’re at work. When you’re feeding the baby, the other boob will leak. Luckily, there are these nifty little bra inserts to deal with this! Or, you might have to stuff a towel in your bra.
- It feels REALLY WEIRD when your milk “comes down.” Yes! Your boobs will “let down” the milk when your body senses it’s feeding time. This feels like an intense tingly sensation in your boobs!
- Your boobs might squirt. Mmmmhmm. They will squirt across the room. Or firehose your baby in the face.
- Your boobs might not squirt - this is not an indication of low breast milk supply. Bodies are all different. Your supply and let down will probably regulate with time - they will feel softer too.
- NIPPLE SORENESS. When you start breastfeeding, your nipples are getting a lot more friction than they are probably used to. This can make them super tender for the first week or two until they get used to it. Get some really good nipple cream to sooth them in between breastfeeding.
- It’s important to note that the nipple soreness should only last a short time. If your baby has a good latch, breastfeeding should not hurt.
- One side might produce a lot more than the other! This is called a “slacker boob” and we wrote another blog post about it here.
- Babies nursing habits will change - they might feed more or less at certain times. At certain times, babies might start cluster feeding - which means they want to nurse all the time! Don’t stress about this - it’s normal.
- Breastfeeding in public can be a source of stress! It can be hard to feel like you have privacy when you need to breastfeed a hungry baby but also have a life. Bebe Au Lait's nursing cover was designed by a mom, for moms! Our special design stays put, but allows air flow and eye contact between mom and baby.
- It will be amazing. No one tells you this, but breastfeeding makes you and baby blissed out. A cocktail of hormones is released when you are feeding your baby that makes you feel like a supreme nature goddess who is at one with the world.
The most important thing to remember is that every body is different, every baby is different, and every breastfeeding experience is valid. If you’re nervous about breastfeeding, you should schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant who can give you personalized tips and feedback.
At Bebe Au Lait, we know that breastfeeding can be a little intimidating! That's why I've created a downloadable nursing schedule to help you keep track of your feedings when you're getting started.
This nursing schedule is super easy to use - just print it out at home! You can print as many as you need. You can track the day and time of the nursing session, whether the baby fed on the left or the right, how long the fed, and notes about the feeding.
Do you have any breastfeeding stories? Are you planning to breastfeed and nervous about what to expect? Share with us in comments!