Like many of the things pregnancy and baby-related, I thought breastfeeding would be simple. As simple as: you have the baby, your milk comes in, you breastfeed the baby until you see fit. That’s how it goes- as simple as that- in VERY FEW CASES! Breastfeeding is not as easy as you may think, but this post is not about breastfeeding. It’s about the stuff that happens to you actual BREASTS that no one bothers to mention or at least they don’t go into it in much detail- Have no fear, Queen Overshare is here!
Somewhere during that 2 hour period of skin to skin bonding with my baby, a midwife came in and asked me if I was going to breastfeed him and if I wanted to try. I said yes, they turned Liam’s head towards my breast and he made his way- unassisted to the nipple, latched on and fed until his little heart was content. Great right? Amazing! Loving, sweet touching and all that!
Why however did the boob he wasn’t feeding from hurt?! And more so, why did no one tell me about this? So with that put out there, here goes my list of things that happened to my boobs that I wasn’t prepared for…
- In Trinidad, we have a saying ‘don’t let yuh right hand know what the left is doing‘ (or something like that). If this applied to breasts, then I’d be in trouble. Aside from the ‘pain’/tingling in the breast that I wasn’t breastfeeding from, out would spout milk as well. Anywhere from a goteo to a full fledged chorro. Granted, this happens more if the baby hasn’t breastfed in a few hours and not every time you breastfeed. But it almost always still catches me by surprise.
What can you do? Wearing breast pads is handy so that you don’t get your shirt wet. My favourite disposable ones are Medela and Chicco brand. They’re soft and discreet and not too expensive. I also bought some washable organic bamboo nursing pads but as fancy as that sounds, I honestly didn’t like them that much. They’re bigger than the disposable ones and absorb a bit more, you can also obviously wash them and use them time and time again, but I just prefer the disposable ones.
- I don’t know if this has to do with pregnancy and breastfeeding or my skin just happened to be really dry but OH DEAR LORD did my boobs itch the first couple of months! Obviously you can’t scratch too hard because breasts are sensitive, that or you’ll end up squirting milk everywhere! But I just wasn’t prepared for the constant itchiness.
What can you do? There are tons of creams for this but I didn’t like any that I tried. What worked for me was olive oil- extra virgin. Right after getting out the shower I’d rub olive oil all over my boobs and let them air dry (or at least try to- let’s face it, long, luxurious showers are a thing of the past). If you don’t have time to let them air dry; you can gently pat them dry. The olive oil on your nipples is safe for the baby as well. (Says our pediatrician).
- Then there was the one (read thousand) time, my boobs were so full that they were rock hard, a little lumpy and hurt like a bitch! This happened a lot in the beginning. They recommend you feed the baby every 2-3 hours for about the first 2 weeks, then you feed on demand- that can be as often as every hour or two or more than 5 or 6 hours if your baby sleeps a lot. Because our bodies are wiser than we realise, so our boobs tend to fill up around the time our baby will want to be fed. Perfect! Or maybe not, because sometimes they fill up really fast and you might have the spillage I mentioned before long with some pain and tingling. But what you may also notice is that your boobs are hard (call them firm if it makes you feel better) and they hurt to touch. They also look very ‘veiny’.
What can you do? Take a warm shower or put warm wash cloths on your boobs. This alleviates some of that pain and tenderness and it helps get rid of some of those lumps. It may cause the milk to leak out though.
- WHOSE boobs are these?! There is so much that can go under this heading. The fact that your baby is now the CEO of your breasts is probably the top of the list. Your baby gets the boobs when are where he/she wants/needs. Once they hit about 2 or 3 months and start observing things around them, so they pull your boobs in which ever direction that catches their attention and without much gentleness while feeding! Also the fact that it’s hard for your boobs to be used during ‘sexy time’ because getting milk squirted in your eye or face is pretty much un-sexy (unless you’re into that kinda thing…). But in direct response to my question… your boobs when full are round and firm. After breastfeeding they are soft and saggy! My haven’t fallen to my navel just yet but once they aren’t full, they are somewhat sad looking! The joys of motherhood, I suppose! Does this get better? I’m not sure because I’m only 5 months in and will probably be breastfeeding for at least another 5! Who knows though. I hope it does but if it doesn’t at least I know my saggy boobs would be the result of a good deed and a full baby!
What happened to you boobs after pregnancy? Anything really strange or funny? Please feel free to share in comments.
***Just as a disclaimer (after the fact): This is about my experience. While other mothers have shared that most, if not all of these things have happened to them as well. This is not a guide to what will happen to you but if any of it does- know that it’s perfectly normal or at least, that it’s happened to me! However, if anything feels uncomfortable, too painful or just off, please see your doctor, midwife or lactation specialist.