Breastfeeding is an amazing gift mums give to their babies. It provides the best nutrition for your little one, reduces the risk of sickness and obesity, and is a wonderful way for mums to bond with their babies. Plus, it’s convenient and cost-friendly.
But breastfeeding is not always as simple as putting your baby to your nipple and letting him, well, suck. Many mums run into a host of problems before they get used to breastfeeding.
Your nursing journey may not be easy, but it will also be peppered with quirky moments and unexpected emotions, which might leave you more than a little surprised.
Here are some examples.
1. It can be instinctive…
Heard about the breast crawl? It’s the phenom where a newborn baby placed on the mum’s belly will shuffle his way up to her nipple by smell and try to latch on. A baby only starts to crawl at about 6 months! But seriously, most babies are born with an innate instinct to suckle, though it is stronger in some babies than others.
2. … Or it can feel completely unnatural
When you breastfeed, you may feel like your breasts are no longer your own. Sore nipples and chafed skin are just several discomforts new mums have to endure during the early weeks of breastfeeding. “It felt icky to me, and I hated that my breasts got engorged, sore and they leaked unexpectedly,” says Constance Soh, mum to Ella, 1. “While I firmly believed in the health benefits of breastfeeding, it didn’t mean I enjoyed it that much.”
3. How time consuming it is
You’ve heard that your baby will nurse every 2 to 3 hours as a newborn ― and this seems manageable. However, consider that you breastfeed 20 minutes on each side, then you might need to pump to fully empty your breasts. Next, you have to wash and sterilise the pump. After this, you may need to squeeze in a diaper change before catching a bathroom break for yourself. You finally manage to sit down and rest, but before you can get comfortable, bubba has woken up, and it’s time for another cycle of feeding!
When you breastfeed, you may feel like your breasts are no longer your own.
4. How thirsty you will get
It’s common to feel thirsty when you are breastfeeding, especially when your baby is a newborn. You are providing a tremendous amount of fluids for your baby, so you’ll need to stay hydrated. Says Yvonne Goh, mum to Gwendoline, 3 months, “I get super, super thirsty ― and I’ll gulp down a 500ml bottle of water every time I feed her.”
5. The colour of your milk
Your breastmilk will probably be creamy-white or white in colour. But there are days where you might notice a green, blue or yellow tinge. If your milk is greenish, it’s probably because you’ve been eating more green foods. Foremilk ― the thinner milk that is produced when you first start to nurse ― has a bluish tinge, while hindmilk ― the thicker milk that comes later ― is yellowish.
6. You may feel “high”
Many mums say that feel exceptionally calm or relaxed while nursing their babies. Other mums feel kind of “high” ― this feeling is probably brought on by the oxytocin and prolactin released when the baby suckles.
Breastfeeding can change the way your breasts look. Find out more…next!
7. The changes your breasts goes through
You’ll start to see the changes even when you are pregnant: Your areola gets darker and the skin gets thicker, while your breasts and nipples enlarge. Don’t fret ― the changes simply prepare you to breastfeed. Darker and more prominent nipples help your baby locate the milk source, while the thicker skin provides some protection from injuries and chafing.
8. They’re lopsided
You may find pretty early on that your baby prefers latching on one breast compared to the other. Since a higher demand triggers your milk supply, the preferred breast tends to fill up with milk faster, and the other doesn’t get engorged quite as often. This is completely normal ― expect that one of your breasts may seem visibly larger than the other.
9. Your boobs feel untouchable
It’s not uncommon for you to feel uncomfortable for anyone other than yourself or your baby to touch your breasts during this time. If your mister tries to get close, you might find yourself yelling at him to stop. It’s completely normal ― due to hormonal shifts, your sex drive can tank when you’re breastfeeding. But fret not, once bubba is a little older, you’ll be back in the game!
10. And they leak…over everything!
Yup, you can find yourself having a letdown when you’re having sex, when you’re looking a pictures of your baby, or even when you hear a random baby cry at the supermarket. It makes for a pretty embarrassing situation, especially if the milk stains start showing through your clothes. Make sure you’re wearing some breast pads, especially in the first few months.
Due to hormonal shifts, your sex drive can tank when you’re breastfeeding.
11. Your baby can bite
Even newborns are known to chomp down pretty hard on their mum’s nipples, causing an immense amount of pain! You see, babies with zero teeth still have pretty strong jaws. Give him something else to bite on. Keep your knuckle or finger near the corner of his mouth. As soon as he starts to bite, immediately insert your finger between his gums and nipple. Give him something else to bite on. Keep your knuckle or finger near the corner of his mouth. As soon as he starts to bite, immediately insert your finger between his gums and nipple.
12. You’ll feel dry
A lack of oestrogen when you’re breastfeeding can cause vaginal dryness. This can make sex painful, which contributes to your lack of interest in doing the deed. But don’t worry, slathering on some lubricant usually does the trick.
13. You’re naked ― a lot!
For modesty’s sake, you practise using a nursing shawl at home, only to realise that it’s just so cumbersome ― and hot! So, many new mums opt to use a cool tank, or, erm, go topless at home, since the boob is out so often!
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