When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I read every book I could find on breastfeeding. There was a chapter devoted to preparing your nipples for nursing. The author advised roughing up my nipples. The suggested method was to cut circles out of my bra. My nipples would be rubbed all day from my sweater or shirt.
Naturally, they would get used to the irritation and toughen up. I thought it sounded odd, but the article assured me I needed these strong, nipples. I cut circles out of the cup in my bra. My husband was aghast when I undressed for bed. “Anne! What the hell is that?” he asked with a horrid look on his face.
“I’m toughening up my nipples!” I shot back. “What do you think I’m doing?”
He was speechless.
After my daughter was born, the nurse grabbed her head and stuck her mouth on my breast roughly. I was in the midst of asking, “Can you be more gentle?”when my daughter latched onto my nipple. I felt like I’d been bitten by a shark…a big shark…with big teeth! The nurse smiled and said, “Excellent.” (This did not feel excellent.) The article did not mention that nursing hurts at first.
I was a young mom and honestly, I was clueless.
Here are a few things I wished someone had mentioned to me:
Breast feeding was so convenient.
If baby was hungry, I’d just attach her to my breast. I’d gotten so good at nursing in public, no one would ever know. There was no need to prepare formula or sterilize bottles. The only drawback was that only I could feed the baby, unless I pumped milk. This meant that at two, four and six a.m. when baby was hungry, I was on call. My husband slept through it all. After a week of sleepless nights, I bought a breast pump.
Nursing breasts have sensitive hearing.
If you are in a store and a baby cries, any baby, your milk will come in. While I worked, my husband was home with our daughter. If I called and heard her even whimper in the background, my breast pads couldn’t contain the tsunami of breast milk overflow. Keep a spare blouse in your desk drawer.
Breast size changes throughout the day.
I was a B cup in the morning and before noon, my breast swelled to a D. I always wanted larger breasts, except if I removed my bra, milk shot out like a super soaker water gun. But, my personal favorite benefit of nursing was the weight loss. I ate lemon pudding with whipped cream every single day. Some days I had two. The weight fell off and baby got that all important colostrum. Mother’s milk was perfect for my baby and my hips.
Milk production slows if you don’t get rest.
When your milk supply feels low, you need a nap. An Irish woman told me, “The secret to nursing a baby is oatmeal for breakfast and a beer with lunch. The hops in the beer works magic for breast milk supply,” she said in that sweet accent.
Not all babies adjust to taking a bottle.
My daughter gagged, flailed, and spit out that “fake nipple” right out. She refused it completely, while making faces we’d never seen before. If I was at work, she would hold out until I got home to nurse. My husband tried everything, but she’d have none of it! You’d have thought he was trying to poison her.
Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone.
In the end, it’s the mom’s choice. Some women have difficulty nursing; some don’t even consider it. I encourage all women to support each other in whichever they choose. Postpartum will be knocking at the door soon. Let’s be kind to each other. Motherhood is challenging enough.
Moms, love your babies, sing to them, rock them and enjoy the tender moments. More importantly, feed them any way you choose. The most important thing is time and love……and burping, never forget burping.
Anne Bardsley is the author of How I Earned My Wrinkles, Musings on Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause. Her second book Angel Bumps, Hello From Heaven will be released in Sept 2017.
She barely survived raising five children who are grown now. She is so glad she didn’t strangle them in their teens, because she now has four beautiful grandchildren. She lives in St Pete, FL with her wrinkle maker of a husband. Visit her website: http://www.annebardsley.com
She is featured on Erma Bombeck, Better after 50, The Grand Magazine, Scary Mommy, Very Funny Women, Paradise News, Island Reporter and many others.