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Gory Details About Breastfeeding

A mother's milk doesn't come in until 3 to 4 days after the baby is born. In the meantime, the baby sucks very small amounts of colostrum from the breast. Some hospitals give baby formula. I hear in the olden days, Moms gave their babies water while waiting for their milk to come in. 

Being stressed out or tense can delay the milk from coming in.

When the milk does come in, it hurts. It feels like someone tried to stuff too many oranges under your skin. 

Letdowns—a reflex that releases milk from the breast, usually activated by the baby sucking—can hurt too. It feels like someone pressing on a bruise from the inside mixed with a tingling-like, appendage-just-fell-asleep sensation.

When nursing and experiencing a letdown, both breasts release milk, and if you're not wearing nursing pads, you may leak onto your clothes. 

Letdowns occur even when not nursing or even thinking about your baby. They happen when you aren't ready and aren't wearing nursing pads.

Even if your nipples stick out like the nose on a balloon animal, the baby will stretch them out further with a suck that is far more powerful than a Dyson with a crevice tool attachment. 

Not all women are built equally. Some are just not designed to nurse.

Breastmilk is sticky, and learning to breastfeed is messy. Changing outfits several times a day is normal, especially when you don't have several breastfeeding-compatible outfits to wear.

Bottles of freshly pumped breastmilk have the propensity to tip over and spill all across your laptop, your outfit, your car, or down the stairs, bouncing and splattering all the way.

Pumped breastmilk separates as the cream rises to the top. I hear it is a viable substitute to milk in any recipe. No, I haven't tried.

Just because the baby slept 6 hours doesn't mean Mama did, especially if you've been nursing every 2-3 hours around the clock for the last 6 weeks. Chances are you'll wake up in the middle of the night with full nursing pads, damp sheets, the sweats, and aching breasts that feel as hard as softballs. 

Babies bite while nursing, even before they have teeth. And that hurts like the dickens.

Babies slap, scratch, and kick while nursing.

Babies can suck your nipples off if the latch isn't right. And, by the way, your blood isn't harmful to the baby's digestion.

Babies sometimes favor one breast over the other, which unless counteracted can lead to one breast being significantly larger than the other.

One breast alone can produce enough milk for a baby. Two breasts can produce enough milk for twins. Don't ask me about triplets. I don't know. 

After nursing, breasts don't always shrink back to their normal size. They frequently shrivel to smaller than their original size.

Nursed-on breasts sag and lose their perkiness.

And since you asked, yes, I am a proponent to breastfeeding. I attempted to breastfeed my first baby back in 2012, but after 3 months of pumping and bottles, I decided it wasn't worth it. With my second, I made another attempt with far more research and support. After many tears and lots of gore, I succeeded with one breast. I was lopsided for the year that I nursed. Now with baby number 3, I finally succeeded to get both sides functioning semi-normally. 

I've learned that breastfeeding can be convenient, sorta-sweet, and the most inexpensive option available. But if it's not working out for you, for Heaven's sake, just give the baby a bottle! They'll live. And after you get over mother's-guilt, everyone will be much happier.

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