So I'm breaking the silence, for all of my lady friends who haven't had babies yet and are planning to breastfeed, and all of my lady friends who have had babies and had to suffer without internet acknowledgement, and for all my dude friends who never wanted to know anything but secretly were actually a little bit curious. And to show Sebastian when he's older what I went through in order to feed him so I can guilt trip him, because that's what moms are for or whatever.
Breastfeeding: Stuff I Had to Learn the Hard Way
- It HUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRTTTTTTS. I was told to be prepared for "sore nipples." I was not told to be prepared for HUGE RAW RED CRACKED BLEEDING NIPPLES THAT MAKE ME SCREAM AND CLENCH ALL MY MUSCLES IN PAIN AND DREAD FEEDING MY POOR CHILD WHO INCIDENTALLY EATS APPROXIMATELY 497 TIMES A DAY OH MY GOD. The best comparison I can give is to rub your nipples raw with sandpaper every hour. Now, I know I tend to exaggerate from time to time, but this is no exaggeration. They gave me some Lanolin but it really only made it so that the material from my hospital gown only hurt pretty badly instead of excruciatingly when it rubbed against my nipples. Also, it made it harder for Seb to latch, and latching on was the most painful part. I gave up on the Lanolin and just fought through it, reminding myself that I love my baby and he needs to eat. Seriously, though, I will never judge formula-feeding moms again because a few hours into the first day, I was ready to give up completely. The nurses and lactation consultants kept telling me that if he's latching correctly, it shouldn't hurt. And they kept telling me he was latching correctly. K THANKS. Finally, our discharge nurse came clean and said that with every one of her kids, it was three weeks before it was no longer toe-curling pain. Which was nice to hear except that three weeks is like an eternity in Bleeding Nipple Time. Thankfully, mine healed after a week and a half and haven't hurt since.
- Your boobs will get HUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGE. What's more, your nipples will get HUUUUUUUGGGGGE. Bigger than when you were pregnant, which was already comical enough. You will start fitting into bra sizes usually reserved for porn stars except that you totally won't want to wear a bra for like a few months. Also, you thought that after you were done being pregnant you can start sleeping on your stomach again, but your rock-hard engorged breasts have other plans.
- The baby crying will make your milk let down. Seeing a picture of your baby will make your milk let down. Seeing a picture of someone else's baby will make your milk let down. Thinking about your baby will make your milk let down. Thinking about the animated Disney crab who shares the same name as your baby will make your milk let down. Invest in heavy-duty nursing pads, a waterproof mattress pad for your bed, and pack like four extra shirts for yourself.
- Related: Milk let-down feels like you're being punched in the boobs.
- It's not as simple as you think. Even if you can manage to get the latch and the hold right, there's still the whole feeding part. Sometimes, he will eat and be done, but this is almost never. More often, he will start eating and take a breather or look at something shiny or smile at me or contemplate the universe except that the milk doesn't pause when he does. And apparently, there are several holes on there that each gush like a punctured water balloon and the baby's face gets soaked, which makes him pretty mad. Sometimes, he will eat for five minutes, act like he's done, wait for you to rearrange your complicated nursing shirt system and go back to eating your own food, or talking to adults, or pooping, and then he'll decide he's hungry again. This will repeat for hours sometimes, so that you've basically dedicated an entire evening to feeding.
- Nursing in public is not really that big of a deal. I had always planned on nursing the baby wherever he wanted it because one, it's sort of mean not to feed a hungry baby I think, and two, an eating baby is quieter than a hungry baby. I never intended to use a cover or hide in a bathroom (ew!) because I don't think feeding my baby is something that I should be ashamed of. It's like this whole big feminist political thing. I've heard all sorts of stories of women who have been asked to stop feeding their babies in public. So I researched the law and I prepared my arguments and I was all ready to defend myself in a frenzy of lactivism! For womankind everywhere! I pulled up my shirt and... no one cared. I've fed Sebastian in church, waiting rooms, grocery stores, restaurants, the park, the laundromat, weddings, and at family and friends' houses, and the worst reaction I've ever had is people awkwardly looking away. But mostly, they've either politely offered me privacy or not even noticed what I was doing. I haven't made a spectacle of it and no one has harassed me on it. For the most part, everyone has treated it like this normal part of life. Which, oh yeah, it is.
- It's basically magic. I'm pretty sure only unicorn blood can compare to this stuff. Not only is it the most perfect food for him and nothing he ever eats again in his life will be as healthy for him, but it has all sort of healing powers. When Sebastian was born he had pretty bad jaundice, and breastfeeding cured that. Dabbing on some milk cured my bleeding nipples. Right now, it strengthens his immune system and helps him fight infections, and it's also giving us noth all sorts of disease-fighting powers for the future. IT EVEN KILLS FREAKING HIV! But let's get real here. Fighting disease is great and my nipples are forever thankful that they are no longer bleeding (amen), but the real superpower breastfeeding has is that it sucks the fat out of your body! Babies need fat, so they just take it from Mom! Really, no wonder some women breastfeed their kids until kindergarten and beyond. IT SUCKS THE FAT OUT OF YOUR BODY. It burns 500 calories a day! Do I want to go run for an hour, or do I want to sit on my butt and feed the baby? GEE LET ME THINK. I will happily breastfeed Sebastian until he's 30 if it gives me license to eat as many cupcakes as I want.
- The smell of breastmilk is oddly comforting. I... don't really know what to say about this one except that it just is.
I've only been doing this thing for a few months, but I plan to continue for as long as Sebastian wants it (again: cupcakes!). Moms, is there anything I have yet to discover?