The Truth About Nursing
by Ashford Evans
Your lactation consultant didn’t tell you everything, but I will.
1. It hurts
She may have even gone so far as to tell you “It doesn’t hurt.” This is a lie. If at first the latch doesn’t kill you, then you have the wonderful feeling of contractions every time your baby hooks up and we all remember how good those feel. Once you learn to get through this pain by breathing deeply for the first 30 seconds you will most likely get cracked, sore, and/or bleeding nipples. When this begins to heal is about the time your milk comes in. Holy hell. Your boobs turn into giant hot swollen throbbing bowling balls. Enjoy! Did I mention that this is just the first week? Then things begin to mellow out a bit. You think to yourself “Gosh I’m glad I got through all that. This breastfeeding thing isn’t so bad after all.” This is when your baby begins teething. Does he want the $18 Sofie the Giraffe that you bought him? No. Does he want the gel teethers that you keep in the fridge for him? No. He wants your nipple. He wants to clamp down and chew and maul your nipple. Finally, the teeth break through and you think “Thank God! Some relief!” No ma’am. Every time he chomps down you scream and jerk him off your nipple. Then he cries because you scared him. Congratulations. You’re a jerk. You scared your baby. Go ahead and feel that mom guilt. Finally he will learn not to bite down after this happens enough times, but now he is curious about the world around him. This will cause him to latch and unlatch 1000 times every minute. If you’re lucky he will also begin to grab, knead, pinch, and squeeze your nipple. And this my friends is about the time you start googling “Weaning.”
2. Strange people will see your nipples
It’s not enough that as your lactation consultant was introducing herself to you, she was grabbing your boob and massaging your nipple. You can stomach this indignity. I mean, you just had your hoo-ha on display for upwards of 10 people you don’t even know. Be prepared for anyone and everyone to see your nipples. It could be your husband’s 18 year old employee that stumbles upon your car during a pumping session (he still cannot make eye contact with me without blushing). It could be the 16 year old girl who walks in on you in the rest-stop restroom as you are hooked up right there on the counter because the only outlet in the whole place is in between the sink and the paper towels (think of this as a Public Service Announcement warning against teen pregnancy). It could even be the airport security guard who just keyed into the “family restroom” (there are no words for this one). But it will be someone somewhere. Just be ready to leave your pride in your underwear drawer next to all your bras that don’t come equipped with an easy access panel. You’ll get to wear them again, I swear.
3. You will let down at strange an inappropriate times
Yes, she told you about letting down when you talk about your baby, hear your baby cry, think about your baby, see your baby etc. But she neglected to tell you that you will also let down every time you take a shower. Get used to bathing in a mixture of bath wash and breast milk and just hope it is good for your complexion. There are also other strange times that you will let down. With baby #3, I let down every single time I brushed my teeth. Weirdness. Just invest in an Amazon Subscribe and Save auto shipment of breast pads.
4. You will talk about breastfeeding to everyoneIt’s like the filter between your brain and your mouth gets clogged up with all the milk. You will begin discussing breastfeeding with anyone and everyone who makes the mistake of engaging you in a conversation. It starts out innocently enough with your new mommy-friend’s husband. But it quickly spirals out of control. You will lose the ability to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate people for this discussion. It could be the group of salesmen at the boat show your husband is participating in. It could be your realtor that you ran into at the grocery store. The cab driver who questions why you need dry ice and what you are shipping (breast milk home from a business trip). Your boss when you have to explain why you “need to take a quick break”. I have found that hotel concierges are particularly squeamish – it’s even kind of fun to watch them squirm as you discuss your “perishable items” that need a mini-fridge.
5. Your hormones are worse than when you were pregnant
You may be under the impression that your hormones will return to normal a few months after giving birth. Nay, nay my friend. Breastfeeding hormones make pregnancy hormones feel like a day at the spa. Say hello to our newest resident of crazy town. An email about an extra dance practice for your 5 YO the same week you are traveling for work? This is enough to send you into a full-on shower crying session that may outlast the hot water in your water heater. (We all do that right?) You spilled 4 ounces while trying to make a bottle? This feeling of failure can last for days. Don’t worry, the dog will lick up the milk. You forgot to put the milk in the fridge and now it’s spoiled? It’s kind of cathartic watching your tears swirl together with the sour milk as they spiral down the drain. Oh and the whole “You won’t have your period till you stop breastfeeding!” Another lie. If you are one of the lucky ones who do get an early return from your monthly visitor just know: because of all the crazy screwy jacked up hormones raging in your body, it won’t be normal. I had my period for two months straight. TWO FREAKING MONTHS!!!!
So there you have it. The skinny on what you won’t learn about in the free breastfeeding class that you dragged your husband to. Did you nurse? Did you go through the same things as me?