Ah, breastfeeding. Besides their sleep schedules, I'm not sure there is a single more complicated aspect of parenting an infant. The breastfeeding experience is different for every mom and for that matter, for every baby and every mom. I know my experiences with my own kids were totally opposite and the second time around, I had things happen that didn't happen the first time. So much went on those first few weeks that I never read about in any baby book and none of my friends ever mentioned. There really should be a book that includes more than just how to latch but until that happens, here are some unexpected things that may happen when you breastfeed:
1. Milk In The Shower
The first time I showered with my breasts a tad *ahem* full, it was like a geyser. I practically cried seeing all that (literal) spilled milk but I am here to tell you -- the hot water helps you relax and can trigger let-down. Another bonus? I had no idea it came out of multiple little ducts so it looks like a watering can with six little streams in all directions. SURPRISE!
2. Waking Up In A Puddle
Even if you strap nursing pads to your boobs and wear two bras, until your supply is regulated, you still may milk your way through a few shirts every night. Between that and the post-partum night sweats, you may find it helpful to sleep on top of towels. Unless you relish changing sheets every morning. I don't.
3. Lumps And Bumps
Sometimes, breasts can be pretty lumpy while nursing. It's usually a clogged duct and can be massaged down but it freaked me out the first time I had it happen thinking I had a tumor. Of course, if it can't be rubbed away, tell your doctor about it as soon as possible.
4. Flat Nipples
Looking at them, I did not think my nipples were flat but apparently, they were flat enough to cause trouble for my son. I had to use a nipple shield for a few weeks to draw them out a bit more. A pleasant visual. If your baby isn't latching well, your nipples may be a little flat too. The shields work beautifully so give those a shot if you want to before giving up!
5. Leakage On The Opposite Boob
When baby feeds on one side, until supply is regulated, it could trigger let-down of your milk on the other side too. I got into the habit of having a pumping container around to catch the run-off because sometimes, it was a lot. Not only did I not want to waste it, I also didn't want to soak my shirt with every feeding.
6. One Might Be Bigger Than The Other
Some women (myself included) have one breast that overproduces, or at least produces more than the other side. It was pretty noticeable for me and very upsetting at a time when I wanted my body to look like my own again as soon as possible. They went back to normal after I finished nursing but fair warning -- it can happen.
7. You May Have Horrible Cramps And Bleeding
No nurse warned me of the terrible uterine cramping I could experience while nursing during the first weeks after having a baby. Nursing can stimulate the uterus to contract and return to it's pre-baby size and that contracting can cause cramps worse than any period and also, the flow of your post-partum bleeding. SO MUCH FUN.
8. Pumping Might Not Work For You
I had plenty of milk while nursing my son but for some reason, the pump didn't do much for me. I could never get more than two ounces on my better-producing side, even if I were engorged. I've heard of many moms saying the same so if you don't get much while pumping, don't worry. As long as your baby has plenty of wet and dirty diapers and you hear them swallowing during feeds, they're getting milk.