10 Things I Learned – and Moms-to-be Need to Know – About Breast-Feeding

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Rusty pipes.
That’s what the lactation consultant called it when I first pumped and my milk was tinged with blood. Believe me, my eyes got real big when I saw rusty-colored milk in that bottle, but it turns out it’s just a sign that your breasts grew fast during pregnancy and there is increased blood flow to them. Or there can be some broken capillaries from rough-handling in those first days of nursing. It usually clears within a week.

Nipple shock.
It hurts to have a baby latching onto you eight times or more a day, but with time, you get used to it, and the nipples toughen up.

The calorie burn.
You burn at least an additional 500 calories a day while breast-feeding, so eat and don’t worry about the baby weight – it will come off in time.

Say bye-bye to modesty.
I tried to be modest and cover up, but the reality is you’ll find yourself naked from the waist up a lot. By the end of breast-feeding, all modesty was out the door, and topless dancing didn’t seem that ridiculous.

You leak – a lot.
When you hear a baby cry (not just yours) or see a sad moment on TV, and while you sleep, you likely will leak. Invest in good nursing pads.

Feel-good hormones.
Breast-feeding activates oxytocin and prolactin in your body, which is sort of like a natural valium. Settle in and enjoy.

Nipple confusion is overrated.
Most babies do fine going back and forth from nursing to taking a bottle. Plus a bottle gives mom a break and lets dad in on some bonding time.

A limited menu.
It’s true what you eat for lunch is what your baby is having for dinner. Some babies do not tolerate certain things and thus mom has to watch her diet; this in addition to avoiding alcohol.

Mastitis is real.
It’s like the flu, and it is not fun, but with antibiotics and continuous breast-feeding, you get through it.

It’s not always easy.
It may be natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Take a breast-feeding class, use the services of a lactation consultant and don’t be too hard on yourself. With practice, you and your baby will likely get your rhythm and be able to breast-feed for as long as it works for you.