Preparing Yourself for Breastfeeding. Or Not.

babyWhen you're preggers, folks are FULL of great advice. They tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps (if the baby sleeps), prepare meals ahead of time to put in the freezer (we never ate any of it), and which baby gear to buy (not a changing table).

One thing I wish more of my grrrls discussed with me, however, was breastfeeding. Now, a little history: I came from a breastfeeding family. My mother breastfed all seven of us (yes, SEVEN, small family in our Irish Catholic town) and my older sister breastfed both of hers before I was even pregnant with my first. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I became a breastfeeding nazi before I even gave birth. I attended breastfeeding classes, bought a spiffy pump, read every book I could, and researched awesome bras and nursing shirts. 

And then I had my first baby.


Yeah, as committed as I was to it (and believe me, I was DETERMINED to do it, because I am a control freak perfectionist), it was nothing like the glamorous life my fellow breastfeeding nazis described. In fact, it was so much more difficult than I could have imagined. And I had a plentiful milk supply, my first son latched in two seconds, and I never had a breastfeeding complication with him.

So why was it so difficult? Because people didn't tell me the TRUTH, that's why! Maybe they didn't want to scare me into bottle feeding (which, incidentally, I do NOT find evil. Whatever works for your family, mmkay?). They just didn't tell me the ugly part of nursing. So, because I'm awesome like that, I am going to tell you like it is. No glamorous perfect mommy stories here. You're welcome.

  • Your pretty, perky girls are going to look verrrry interesting after being pregnant for nine months. They will look unrecognizable after nursing for six years straight. They will now become victims of gravity, look as though you have a road map of the United States tattooed on them, and your nipples will be bigger than silver dollars (WHAT?!? I'm not going to sugar coat it!).
  • There isn't much point to buying cute nursing bras while pregnant. Everyone tells you to buy them a cup size or so larger. Sometimes they are six sizes larger. Buy one or two one-size-fits-all sports bra type nursing bras, wait until your milk comes in and calms down, then order a couple of decent ones. Or else you are stuck with a bunch of silky, leopard print nursing bras that are way too small. Yes way.
  • Same goes for nursing tops. If your chest gets as big as mine did, you will no longer be a size XS. You'll be an XL. Sooooo lucky.
  • When your milk comes in, your cute little 34Bs that turned into 34Cs during pregnancy will swell up to the size of cantaloupes and become 36DDEFs. Yes, F. As in Freaking Huge.
  • Your baby will choke, release his latch, and sputter while milk squirts everywhere, just because he can. Nothing like that let-down reflex.
  • When you have sex for the first time after your milk comes in? BIG, WET MESS, mmkay? Just a warning.
  • You can get pregnant whilst exclusively breastfeeding. In fact, you can get VERY pregnant while exclusively breastfeeding. You will also be able to get your period back AT FOUR WEEKS POSTPARTUM, Y'ALL. Despite aforementioned exclusively breastfeeding. Just sayin'.
  • Don't pump so much if you don't plan on giving that baby bottles. Why? Because you'll fill a 25+ cubic fridge/freezer full of it in about five days (9 ounces per pumping in five minutes -- could have fed a third-world country). And a chest freezer in the basement. And eventually, you'll have enough to give your sister for her failure-to-thrive baby. For three months. That's 90 days worth of breast milk, for those of you not good at math.
  • You might nurse through a second pregnancy, plan on weaning the first kid, and then tandem nurse for another year. That's nursing two kids at once. Yes, it's possible. No, it isn't fun. But yes, I'd do it again.

I'd never deliberately steer anyone away from breastfeeding but I feel honesty is the best policy. And brutal honesty is the bestest policy because sometimes plain honesty leaves out teensy little details. Now, go buy yourself a case of cotton breast pads (the polyester ones are dreadful. Flannel, all the way). And another few cases of disposables ones because you might be wearing them for a month or two. Or 18. Not that I know anyone like that.

Image via paparutzi/Flickr

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