Whoever told us that we shouldn’t cry over spilled milk was obviously a man. Or maybe a woman that never breastfed or maybe she just never pumped. In any case, this person was wrong. Dead wrong. When you are a breastfeeding/pumping mama, it is perfectly ok to cry over spilled milk. I now know this. Here are a few other things I’ve learned along the way over the past year of nursing my son:
- It’s not actually free. While the costs of breastfeeding don’t even come close to the cost of formula feeding, it is not free. There are still things you need to buy and I’m not even talking about a breast pump (which can get pretty pricey, depending on your needs). Until I was pregnant, I had no idea that you had to continue to take prenatal vitamins after giving birth when you’re a nursing mom. I also didn’t know, until my son’s 3 day check up, that nursing moms need to give their babies Vitamin D drops. (My doctor told me I could take Vitamin D myself but I’ve read in some places it’s not the same.) Then there’s the nursing pads, pump, storage bags, etc. Still way cheaper than formula, believe me, but definitely not free.
- You could quite possibly eat yourself out of house and home. I had no idea how hungry nursing would make me. No. Idea. This doesn’t exactly help with the whole “you lose weight faster” idea, either. You really need to pay attention to what you’re eating.
- The thirst is unquenchable. I also had no idea how thirsty I would be while nursing. It’s insane.
- A baby’s saliva can help mom produce milk to fight infection. This is both gross and totally incredible. When nursing a little bit of “backwash” will enter the mom’s body. Her body can then detect infection and adjust her milk to give the baby what she needs to fight it off. I read this in a mom’s facebook group but here is a link to an article I found about it. In that conversation, someone else mentioned the same is true about smelling the baby’s breath. I wasn’t able to find anything online to support that theory but I will say, I was completely obsessed with my son’s breath! So, it totally made sense to me. I still like to get a good sniff in here and there.
- A breastfed baby can identify his mother by the smell of her breast milk. I shared in my post on newborns that I’ve heard a baby can smell his mother up to 3 feet away! I find it so amazing, I thought it was worth repeating. A newborn can also tell the difference between her own mother’s milk and someone else’s.
- Breast milk changes composition during a feeding. In the beginning of a feeding, the milk is watery but toward the end it is thick and fatty (good reason to finish one side before switching).
- You can store breast milk at room temperature for up to 8 hours. I’m not sure I ever really thought about this before having a baby but I probably would have just put breast milk straight in the refrigerator. But you don’t have to! I didn’t pump very often at all but occasionally if little man slept through a feeding (I wouldn’t wake him) I would pump and leave the bottle on my night stand. Here is more information on breast milk storage and handling.
- You might feel as if the life is being sucked out of you. When you are nursing a newborn, it can seem as if you are feeding around the clock. You’re sleep deprived and exhausted. I remember in the first few days of my son being born, crying to my mom (and I do mean actually crying), “It’s like he’s sucking the life out of me. Literally.” I can laugh about it now and see how quickly that season passed but at the time it felt extremely overwhelming and never ending.
- It hurts. I guess I technically knew this but, really, there is no way to actually know how much it hurts until you do it. Of course, this is just in the beginning. Experts will tell you that it shouldn’t hurt unless something is wrong. I still can’t figure out why they say this. Maybe so more women will do it, I don’t know. Even with a good latch, there’s soreness and possibly engorgement. It can be pretty painful. But it’s only for the first few weeks, which is nothing in comparison to the amount of time and you will be nursing. And the amount of goodness you will be passing down to your baby for a lifetime!
- It’s the most amazing thing. Ever. All of the benefits of breastfeeding aside, I would do it again simply because it’s an amazing experience. During pregnancy I was in complete awe of my body and breastfeeding only magnified that. It is absolutely amazing how our bodies are created to sustain this little life, even after birth. Not only that, but it’s amazing how the baby instinctively knows what to do. I will never ever forget how my son worked his way down my chest to nurse for the first time. It completely blew me away. Once I got past the learning curve, the pain and the engorgement – I (slowly) started to appreciate the beauty of breastfeeding. It really is a beautiful thing.
What are some things you’ve learned about breastfeeding?