For first-time nursing mamas, it may be a bit of a shock when you realize breastfeeding is not as magical and sweet as everyone has led you to believe. YES, it can absolutely be the most tender and special thing you do with your babe, but if you've ever breastfed a baby, you'll totally understand me when I say, "Lets be real..." Breastfeeding is not always adorable or convenient, and a lot of mamas wish they'd gotten the memo.So, if you're planning on nursing your little one and want to know what to expect, here's a few things that I wish someone had told me before my baby started breastfeeding:
The Hospital is not Real Life
Here's the deal mamas--once you deliver your baby, you are either gonna be strung out on endorphins from finally pushing a babe out, or you're going to be a little glassy-eyed from your meds. Either way, when the nurse puts babe on your chest and helps you latch for the first time, you may think to yourself, "That was way easier than I thought it was gonna be!" Think again. No matter how many nurses tell you that, "He's a great latcher,"and "You won't have any problems nursing this one," you will get home, and when you do, it will be like your kid has never seen your boobs before. My advice is to take everything the sweet, patient delivery nurses say with a grain of salt, and remember that there is going to be a learning curve. You're going to cry a lot because your baby won't latch, you're going to wonder if you should just bottle feed instead, and you're going to wonder why on earth they let you bring a baby home in the first place. Hang in there, mama. The first 2 weeks are the worst.
Tubby Todd Mama Nursing Salve
It's Going to HurtAnother lovely, little thing (and probably the most important), which no one saw fit to instill in me, is that your nipples are not going to like you. If you're like most women and have not had extensive experience with something sucking on your nipples before having children, then your girls may have a hard time with the adjustment. You're going to have deal with some dry, cracking and possibly bloody (in my case) nipples while you and your little one figure out what you're doing. My suggestion--nipple cream. And a lot of it. Use something natural and soothing like Tubby Todd Mama Nursing Salve that won't bug your babe when he/she is nursing. Also, be patient with yourself and with your babe. Don't be in such a hurry to get them on that you settle for a bad latch (the most common reason for nipple pain), and don't be afraid to ask your doc for recommendation for a lactation consultant. I swear by them, and would not have nursed my son if I hadn't gone to see one of those goddesses. Invest in some comfortable, washable nursing pads (I found that the disposable ones chafed my nipples even worse) to help protect the girls, and get used to putting them on everyday.
You may not Lose Weight
So this really depressing thing happened to me when I was nursing my son. I was waiting for all of my pregnancy weight to magically disappear every time I got done breastfeeding. But, I was also STARVING all the time, and so then I was eating to keep up my energy and my milk supply. Long story short, I did not lose weight while nursing. Yeah, I know. Bummer. The thing is some mamas need a little more fuel to keep up with their babe's demands, and some mamas don't. So please, I'm begging you, don't be down on yourself when you don't fit into a size 2 after a couple months of breastfeeding.
Stripping Down is not Always Easy
If you're anything like me, once you have your baby, you set up your life to be as convenient for you and babe as possible. This means having binkies, diapers, and burp cloths within arms reach all over your house, and means that when baby wants to nurse, you're ready! This might explain why when I first brought home my son I walked around in a robe for 3 weeks...you know, for the baby. When it comes to nursing, I would recommend not completely disrobing (like your girl here) every time your little one is hungry. I found that this set me up for failure pretty much anytime I needed to nurse him when I wasn't at home. You can invest in a ton of different nursing tops, but that can get expensive really quickly. Or you can just stick with a trusty nursing bra, and find a great nursing cover like Covered Goods which truly covers all the goods while still letting babe do his/her thing. Try it out at home a couple of times a day just to get your little one used to the idea that they won't always have a nakey mama to nurse with. Toughen them up a little, ya know?
Your Back is Going to Hurt When you start to nurse, your whole body is working to get in the right position to assist your babe. You may not notice it right away, because you're dealing with *ahem* other pains *ahem*, but once you're out of the woods for a month or so, you realize that your back and neck are killing you. This has a lot to do with how you're supporting your baby, and how your posture is while you're nursing. Some of the best advice that I received, of course almost three weeks into my maiden breastfeeding journey, was if you're comfortable, the babe will be comfortable. The thing I found that made this the easiest on both of us was a nursing pillow, like this one from ErgoBaby. It's going to allow you to sit up straighter or even lean back, get comfortable, and still bring babe up to breast level without putting extra strain on your back or neck. These pillows are heavenly, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is for both of you to fall asleep nursing babe with this thing around your waist.