The 19 Most Surprising Things About Breastfeeding
Real moms share what surprised them most on their breastfeeding journey.
No matter how prepared you are for breastfeeding, there’s bound to be something that surprises you. Maybe it’s the rollercoaster emotions, maybe it’s how ravenously hungry you are ALL the time. We asked our community of real moms what surprised them most about their breastfeeding experience, and here’s what they had to say:
1. Breastfeeding makes you hungry.
“How hungry breastfeeding makes you. Next time I will be prepared with healthier snacks rather than donuts!” – Julie M. In the first 3 to 12 months postpartum, your body burns between 300-500 calories a day producing breast milk – definitely enough to make you hungry.
2. Breastfeeding makes you thirsty.
“The thirst. I’ve never drank so much water in my life!” – Lauren P.
3. Let-downs and leakage.
“Let downs! Leaking from the side the baby isn’t eating from! Oh, and the way my breasts spray like water hoses!” – Jacquelyn M. While some women will have leaking and/or forceful letdowns due to the release of oxytocin, not every woman experiences this.
4. Hard and painful, yet amazing.
“How something so natural could be so hard and painful. But how something so hard and painful could then turn into something so amazing. I have a special bond with my daughter no one else can have.” – Alex W.
5. That gummy grin!
“The amazing feeling you get when they make eye contact with you and pop off for a quick gummy grin before starting again.” – Miranda D.
6. The indescribable connection.
“That you can calm a baby in 3 seconds. Doesn't matter if they are mad, upset, hurt or frustrated. The connection you have with your child is indescribable.” – Mallory W.
7. It's all your newborn needs!
“How my daughter can grow and be so healthy from my milk alone.” – Cassie S.
8. It can stop your period.
“That breastfeeding can stop your period from returning.” – Alia K. While some women don’t get a period until they wean, others will get one within several months following birth. When it returns depends on a lot of factors, including your baby’s nursing patterns, how your body reacts to lactation hormones, and more.
9. You might experience cramping.
“How bad my cramps were while breastfeeding during the first few weeks after giving birth.” – Autumn S.
Many women experience menstrual-like cramps while breastfeeding. This is because the hormone oxytocin is released, which causes your uterus to contract back to its pre-pregnancy shape and size.
10. Cluster feeding can happen.
“Cluster feeding. My 3-week-old constantly cluster feeds for up to 3 hours plus he constantly wants to be right with me. Sometimes I feel like all I have done that day is breastfeed and hold my baby while he sleeps.” – Ashley P.
Cluster feeding is characterized by your baby nursing for short periods, coming off your breast, nursing a little more, fussing, and so on and so forth. Learn how to manage it.
11. Flat nipples.
“That there is something called flat nipples!” – Allison C.W.
Some women have flat or inverted nipples, which can sometimes make breastfeeding more challenging. Learn more about breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples and products that can help draw them out, like Medela SoftShells.
12. You can maintain a supply by exclusively pumping.
“That you can maintain a supply by exclusively pumping.” – Chasie B. Find tips on how to succeed while exclusively pumping.
13. The mix of emotions when it's time to wean.
“How emotional I got when he weaned himself! I bawled my eyes out.” – Tonia H. It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions surrounding the weaning process. These tips can make it easier.
14. Every breastfeeding journey is unique.
“How each journey and each baby is different. My first was easy, it was enjoyable and fun. My second, completely different. Going on 9 months and we still struggle but we will still do it!” – Dara M.
15. Frequent worrying.
“How much I worry! About everything- if she's getting enough, if my supply will come back after illness, if I will pump enough for the next day, if I am eating the right stuff, drinking enough water... the list goes ON AND ON!” – Rachel L.
It’s normal to worry about everything you’re doing as a new parent. But it’s also important to relieve that stress.
16. If you don't use it, you'll lose it.
“I definitely wasn't aware if you don't use it, you'll lose it. My daughter is 6 months and she only nurses on my left boob, and now the right only produces a few drops.” – Kris R.
Your body responds to your baby’s feeding needs, so naturally if you pump or breastfeed less often, your body will begin producing less milk. Luckily, the opposite is true, too!
17. Support system.
“That everyone and their granny had an opinion about it! And any mama choosing to breastfeed NEEDS a support system!” – Felisha P.
18. Emotional rollercoaster.
- “How much of an emotional rollercoaster it is!” – Michelle K.
19. Realizing how much you actually love (or loved!) it.
“I was surprised by how much I loved it...my breastfeeding journey is coming to an end and I’ve been in denial for a few weeks. I look forward to being able to create that bond with my future babies.” – Alyssa C.