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So you want to breastfeed and have started to educate yourself. Congratulations! You’re taking a major step towards having a successful breastfeeding experience with your baby! To help you along, I’ve gathered 26 facts on breastfeeding that no one will tell you right away. These seem to only come up once you’ve been breastfeeding for weeks or months … but it’s so much better to know them upfront!
I’m sure you’ve heard that breastfeeding is natural and it is… but there’s also a lot to it. Not everyone can just
Most issues can be overcome if you have a support system or know your stuff. Even then though, the baby is learning too and you need to give your baby time to learn this new skill.
To help prepare you for breastfeeding, here are some of the things moms commonly say that didn’t know about breastfeeding before they started:
Note: I am not a medical professional and none of the following is meant to be taken as medical advice. If you have any concerns about your, or your baby’s health, please consult a doctor.
1. Tongue Ties and Lip Ties are real!
Yes! They are definitely real and they often go undiagnosed for weeks which can lead to serious challenges including bad latch, cracked nipples, undersupply etc. Untreated, they can even cause kids issues later in life including speech delay and poor teeth spacing resulting in costly orthodontic bills.
If treated quickly after a baby is born, the procedure is super quick and easy.
Here’s a video that may help you learn how to identify a tongue tie or lip tie. If you suspect that your little one has one or both of these, then ask your pediatrician, lactation consultant, and nurses to all look at it before you leave the hospital to be 100% sure that they do or don’t have it. Get multiple opinions if needed.
You might be asking yourself… if moms have been nursing forever, why is there even an issue with tongue tie and lip tie not being noticed and treated right away? The answer is simple… When formula became the standard a few generations ago, fewer and fewer people were trained on this and it got “lost”.
Pediatricians are getting much better about being able to identify and diagnose it, but many still miss it so it’s best to get a second opinion if you’re experiencing challenges or suspect that it’s an issue.
2. Probably the biggest breastfeeding fact no one will tell you when you’re pregnant is that … Cluster Feeding Is Normal!
This is a big one! Cluster feeding is when your baby seems to nurse a lot – sometimes it seems to be constant. Babies naturally cluster feed at different points for various reasons. Sometimes they are doing it for comfort. Sometimes they are doing it because they are about to (or currently) go through a growth spurt.
Many moms immediately assume that if their baby is nursing a lot, that they aren’t producing enough milk. This train of thought can lead to lots of issues including actually reducing your supply, causing an oversupply, or ending breastfeeding all together (voluntarily or involuntarily).
A much better indicator of whether your baby might not be getting enough milk is their number of wet diapers. Watch their diapers closely because each individual pee counts as 1 (and if you wait too long to check, you might be counting two pees as one). Here’s a great easy to use guide for breastfeeding from VeryWellFamily.com.
“Day 1: A newborn baby will pass urine for the first time within 12 to 24 hours of birth. During the early hours and days of life, an exclusively breastfed baby may not have many wet diapers.
Day 2: You should look for at least two wet diapers a day until your breasts begin to fill with milk by the third or fourth day postpartum. As your milk supply increases, so will the wet diapers.
Days 3 to 5: Your baby should have at least three to five wet diapers.
From Day 6 on: Your baby should be having at least six to eight wet diapers every 24 hours but may have more. Some babies have a wet diaper at every feeding.”
If your baby is cluser feeding but getting enough wet diapers (even if they may have lost some weight), your baby and your supply may still be fine! Consult a pediatrician who is knowledgeable about breastfeeding, and seek the help of a lactation expert if you have concerns to be sure.
3. Natural does mean easy or intuitive!
You are not a bad mom if breastfeeding doesn’t come easy to you and your baby! Very few people are able to breastfeed without ever having a challenge. When moms used to have more of a real tribe around them, they’d have tons of other currently breastfeeding moms around to help them – we don’t have that as much anymore.
This post with some of my top breastfeeding tips may help you though!
4. Breastfeeding is a lifestyle
When I expected my second son and had determined to breastfeed, I had a revelation one day… “OMG What will I do if the baby is hungry while we are outside???”
Can you believe it? I was about 34 weeks pregnant at the time and I only JUST thought of it!
If you decide to exclusively breastfeed, then it will be a lifestyle decision. You will need to drink a ton, eat plenty of calories, dress in a way that makes nursing easy, and have a plan for breastfeeding outside – among other things.
I promise though, once you get started, you won’t even think twice about it! Just know that it’s a big choice so you aren’t surprised once you get started.
5. Breastfeeding can be mentally, emotionally, and physically consuming
Hormones play a big role in breastfeeding and breastfeeding uses up calories … so be prepared to really feel it. There are two sides to this though… Yes, it will be “consuming” but breastfeeding will also cause your body to release “happy” hormones.
According to VeryWell Family:
Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin from your brain. It allows your baby to get the breast milk from your breasts, and it causes your uterus to shrink down after the birth of your baby. It also fosters love, nurturing, and a strong emotional bond between you and your child.
6. You don’t get any time off
If you are going to exclusively nurse your baby, then know that it’s a full-time 24×7 job.
7. Latch is SO important and both of you have to learn it
8. You are going to watch LOTS of TV
There’s a silver lining though… You will get to watch a ton of TV! Be prepared with a Breastfeeding basket that includes drinks, snacks, and a cell phone charger or battery. Then you can curl up on the couch with your new cutie and nurse the day away while watching TV!
9. The witching hour is real
Have you ever heard of the “witching hour”? This is when your baby is fussiest and may want to nurse for what seems like the entire night – sometimes from 7 to midnight!
Many moms begin to worry that their baby is being fussy because they are hungry and mom isn’t making enough milk. This is usually not the case! KellyMom.org has a great article on this topic and the site is very reputable! Here’s a great quote from the post:
This behavior is NORMAL! It has nothing to do with your breast milk or your mothering. If baby is happy the rest of the day, and baby doesn’t seem to be in pain (as with colic) during the fussy time – just keep trying to soothe your baby and don’t beat yourself up about the cause. Let baby nurse as long and as often as he will. Recruit dad (or another helper) to bring you food/drink and fetch things (book/remote/phone/etc.) while you are nursing and holding baby.
10. You may not NEED to pump
Pumping is such a huge topic! IF you are exclusively nursing by putting baby to breast, and you will not be away from your baby during any of their meals, then there is really no reason for you to HAVE to pump.
If, though, you’re going to be away from your baby either because you work, or you want a night out, for example, you will need to pump. This is because anytime you miss a feeding with your baby and don’t pump to remove the milk your baby would have drank, you are
Anytime your baby drinks from a bottle, whether it’s pumped milk or formula in the bottle, you need to pump in order to replace that feeding and maintain your supply. If you’re going to be working and away from your baby, this post about how to pump at work is a must-read!
11. If you aren’t going to exclusively pump, you probably shouldn’t pump until at least 6 or 7 weeks postpartum to pump
Your supplies take about 7 weeks or so to regulate. When your baby is firstborn, you won’t make much milk at all but then your milk “comes in” and you will likely feel engorged on and off.
This is because your body is learning how much your baby needs. If you pump before it regulates, chances are that you will develop an oversupply.
I know I know… How can too much breast milk be a problem? Right?
Believe it or not, making too much milk can be a huge problem. Your baby could have trouble latching or keeping up. Your baby may end up gulping a lot and taking in too much air which will make them gassy. You will be uncomfortable. The list goes on and on.
To learn more about issues that can result from an oversupply, read this post. Or… just hold off pumping until either you go back to work, are past the 7 week mark, or REALLY have to in order to replace a feeding session.
Here are even more things you should know!
12. Some moms ONLY pump and then bottle feed. I personally find this to be really hard and time-consuming but for some moms, it’s the right thing for them! So just know that it IS an option!
13. You will develop the most AMAZING bond with your baby when you breastfeed
14. You will miss breastfeeding one day
15. Breastfeeding makes you HUNGRY
16. Big breasts can make nursing really difficult!
17. Small boobs can make breastfeeding really difficult! Yup… Neither is “Ideal”
18. There are so many positions to learn! If one doesn’t feel comfortable, try another!
19. It’s normal for one breast to produce more milk than another
20. Your breasts may not be the same size for a while. When they fill up they get bigger and then they “deflate” when your baby empties them.
21. You will need to learn how to nurse on both sides. Some people find that they can’t nurse on one side but that’s rare… most eventually learn to nurse on both sides so keep trying!
22. You will likely wake up in a pool of milk at some point. Just laugh it off and move on!
23. Try to watch TV on an actual TV rather than your phone. Your eyes and your wallet with thank you!
24. Breastfeeding CAN hurt in the beginning. Sometimes it’s a sign of a problem like
26. Flat nipples are a thing and will make it harder to breastfeed but not impossible! This post includes a video to show you how to breastfeed if you have inverted nipples!
I hope these facts on breastfeeding helped! I’m sure you already know that breastfeeding is complex… Some parts are challenging and other parts are beautiful!
Always know that breastfeeding is a choice. While I am very pro-breastfeeding, I have formula-fed one of my kids because that was the right thing for him. If breastfeeding becomes a major challenge and posts like this one aren’t helping, please please reach out to a lactation consultant or doctor.
Your mental health and well-being is important too and it’s okay to seek help.