There was a lot I didn’t know about pregnancy and now that baby girl has arrived, there’s a lot I didn’t know about breastfeeding. Sure you hear a few things from other mommas; mostly about how your boobs will grow, how uncomfortable it is and to get ready for your nipple to be pulled like a sling shot (ouch). While these things are true (for me), I’m here to share 5 things I learned while on my breastfeeding journey.
1. Suppresses Your Period
I had never heard this before. Literally I had never heard anyone talk about this. I understood that pregnancy did this, but breastfeeding too?! It wasn’t until my first postpartum appointment when my OB mentioned my period could be suppressed for as long as I breastfed. Or it would be irregular during that time.
Wow! But why?
Hello prolactin! Prolactin is the hormone responsible for producing milk. In turn, it’s also prevents menstruation. BUT it doesn’t prevent ovulation. Yeah, read that again.
I also had no idea that ovulation could exist without a period. Is your mind blown? Because mine sure was.
2. Has Low Vitamin D
They say breast milk is “liquid gold”. Which made me assume that it had all the nutrients that a babe could possibly need. And it does, with the exception of Vitamin D! I never knew breast milk had low levels of Vitamin D until our pediatrician prescribed us drops to give daily to our baby.
It was at this moment that I also learned forumla fed babies get their daily dose of Vitamin D from formula without the need to take a supplement.
We are learning so many things, aren’t we?! Or maybe you already knew all this. Okay, moving on.
3. Tingly Feeling Is Normal
When both my boobs started tingling I immediately thought something was wrong. It kind of felt like the tingle when your foot has fallen asleep. After asking my lactation team (@goldilacts) about it, they said it’s totally normal! Breasts will tingle when they are full, milk is letting down, flowing fast, or filling back up.
If the tingle progresses to an ouch, then you’ll want to talk to your doctor or lactation team to see what’s going on.
4. Takes Time to Build Milk Stash
When it came time to start building my milk stash and freezing it in bags, I didn’t realize it can take up to 2 weeks (give or take) for the milk volume to increase. I thought once breastfeeding was established, I would produce as much milk as I wanted instantly. But it takes time for your breasts to understand that you want more milk made.
It all works on a supply and demand system. In the beginning you’re only producing as much milk as you need (when baby eats). Your breasts don’t know that you want extra milk to put in your freezer. The way you communicate that to your body is by pumping!
Your boobs don’t know the difference between your baby nursing or your pump pumping away. All they know is that you need more milk to feed the mouth that is actually your pump. Increasing your demand will increase your supply. Side Note: That also works in reverse. If you want to stop your supply, then decrease your demand.
It’s also important to know that when you start this stashing journey, you will most likely pump teeny tiny amounts in the beginning. Don’t get discouraged! Trust the process and be consistent. Those tiny amounts will gradually increase as your breasts learn that you need more milk.
Aren’t our bodies amazing?!
5. It Doesn’t Always Hurt
How many of us go into breastfeeding thinking it’s going to be the most painful thing ever? Yup, me too. To my surprise, I experienced minimal pain! I won’t lie, while nursing in the hospital I had a bit of sensitivity. I mean come on, this little human is sucking on your nipples with all their might every 2-3 hours. Of course it’s going to feel sensitive, but I wouldn’t say it was painful.
In addition to getting help from the nurses, I also took advantage of the lactation consultant at the hospital. She would pop in when I was beginning to nurse and give me hands on help until I got the hang of things. It was so valuable to have this available during the first few days of baby’s life.
I learned that a proper latch plays a role in minimizing discomfort. I always make sure my babe’s mouth (including her lips) surround my entire areola and not just the nipple. If it’s just around the nipple, it will definitely feel like a painful pinch. In that case, I release baby from the nipple and re-latch.
This is just a taste of the things I’ve learned about breastfeeding. I’m honestly learning something new every single day. I highly recommend looking into a lactation consultant if you’re wanting extra support in your breastfeeding, formula, or combo feeding journey. I am so glad I found @goldilacts; they have been GOLD. Especially since this is my first baby and everything was so new.
Once you are home it can feel very overwhelming to make sure you are meeting your baby’s needs. The stress and pressure can skyrocket. Having the expertise and support of lactation consultants is the best decision I made for myself, baby and husband. Because at the end of the day all 3 of us are new to this and we can’t help each other if we don’t know how to help each other.
Please leave your comments, tips, suggestions, interesting facts, or anything else you’d like to share about breast/formula/combo feeding below!
Check out @goldiacts here
Watch our full birth story here