There are some things in life that you can only really understand after you've experienced them. Breastfeeding a newborn is one such experience. When I had my second child, all of these things came rushing back to me as I remembered all of the joys (and pains) that come with breastfeeding a newborn. Here are my top 10, I'd love to hear some of yours!
You know you're breastfeeding a newborn baby when...
1. The first thing you do after a shower is reach for your breast pads so milk doesn't go everywhere.
The glorious warmth and cleansing feeling of having a child free shower is not quite the same when you realise that the small jets of liquid spurting around are actually milk.
2. You wake up in wet patches of milk at night and realise that your breast pads have somehow slipped out
Even worse, you feel a dripping sensation and realise that your breasts are not actually covered at all, and now wet patches cover your bed.
3. You decide that actually it’s ok to just put a towel over a wet patch and go back to sleep instead of changing the sheets (anything for more sleep!)
There may be a delusional period for a week or two where you and your partner get up and change the sheets every time there is a wet patch. After a while, sleep deprivation helps to reset your expectations. Wet patches aren’t so bad. Sleep is good.
4. You have to shower facing away from the nozzle in the shower
All of a sudden, your nipples are ever so sensitive. Between a baby learning to latch properly, and being engorged with milk, your poor nipples have a lot to cope with. Water shooting at them from the shower is just too much (but don’t worry, this doesn’t last!)
5. You contemplate waking a sleeping baby multiple times a day because otherwise your breasts might explode
It took an hour to settle your poor tired baby, and you have done everything you can to keep him sleeping but now you think you might explode if he doesn’t wake up soon! You’re not sure if you’re going crazy or whether you should wake up the baby or cope with aching breasts. What to do!?
6. You’re often surprised there isn’t blood or bite marks after an especially enthusiastic latch on
You dread that nuzzling moment when you realise it’s time to nurse AGAIN and you feel as though your nipples haven’t recovered from the last session. You’re thinking about buying shares in Nipple Balm because you’re using so much of it (don’t worry, this doesn’t last either – always check with a lactation consultant that the attachment is good and rule out possible issues such as tongue tie, but otherwise sometimes it just takes a few weeks for you and your baby to get used to each other).
7. The first thing you do when visitors leave is whip out your sore nipples to air them and let them heal
It may sound like an old wives tale, but airing your nipples is the best thing you can do to help them heal and to help prevent nipple thrush or infections from occurring. Even better, squeeze a little bit of colostrum or breastmilk onto the nipple first and then let it air dry.
8. You make sure you have a water bottle and snack on your bedside table when you go to bed every night to save yourself a trip to the kitchen in the middle of the night
It sounds weird, but nursing through the night can leave you with a dry mouth and hunger pangs. Your body is working hard to give you baby all the nourishment she needs, which means you need to make sure you’re giving your body all the nourishment it needs! Nursing through the night can create some of your most special quiet bonding moments, but it’s hard to appreciate when all you can think about is water or food!
9. You experience a let down whenever you hear a baby cry. Even when it’s not yours
You’ll be innocently walking along, perhaps even child free, when suddenly a baby will cry out and your breasts start leaking. For some Mums there’ll be a bit of an ache as the milk lets down, and you’ll be reminded of your baby and wonder if he’s hungry. Sometimes it will happen spontaneously, when you least expect it.
10. You have cabbage leaves or nappies in your freezer to help with engorgement (or if you’re really well prepared you have gel packs!)
You’ll hear so much advice on what to do to help with engorgement! Especially if you’re particularly sensitive and find it painful you might try all sorts of things. Cabbage leaves and disposable nappies are often recommended by midwives though be careful of cold burns, or you can buy breast gel pads that can be heated and cooled which is great for a multitude of purposes.
What would you add to the list?
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About the Author
Corryn is mum to 2 gorgeous boys and 1 labradoodle, muddling her way through parenthood, running a business and keeping her sanity. She loves reading comments on the blog, so go on, say hi! Read more about Milk and Love.
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