Breastfeeding is a real b*tch.
5 Common (AND NORMAL) BF’in Struggles
Happy National Breastfeeding week, besties! To celebrate, we got together with our friends over at Swhel to bring you a list of 5 things we wish we knew before starting our BF'ing journey and some helpful tips from the pros.
1. That sh*t hurts in the beginning.
When you and your babe are first trying to get the hang of things, finding the proper latch and perfect positioning usually doesn't happen immediately, leading to sore, cracked nipples. Plus, let's face it - your nips (probably) aren't super used to all of that newfound attention they're receiving. (No judgment from us if they are, tho.) It can be hella painful those first few weeks, and we want you to be prepared. If nobody told you, buy yourself some nursing pads (for leakage purposes) and pop a few of those bad boys in the freezer after smothering them in aloe. You'll also want to load up on this nipple cream made by our friends over at MotherLove, that’s won ACTUAL AWARDS for being so good. You can thank us later.
2. It might fu*k with your emotions.
Ever heard of Dysphoric milk ejection? Well, you have now, friend. The term “DMER” was first coined in 2007 by Alia Heise, a lactation consultant who experienced the condition while breastfeeding her third child. “Dysphoria is a state of unease, and milk ejection refers to the hormonal reflex by which breast milk is expressed from the mammary gland.” In human terms, this means: when breastfeeding- your dopamine levels decrease in order for your prolactin (the milk producing hormone) levels to increase. For some (not all), this can cause our dopamine to drop too low - leading to ultra fun side effects that include (but are not limited to): anxiety, anger, depression, + self-loathing. 🙃
3. The engorgement party.
When (and if) your milk shows up to the party, strap in, babe. While your boobs will LOOK fantastic, they will very much feel… the opposite. This is basically your bod’s way of screaming FEED THAT BABY N👏O👏W👏. The good news, though, is once you feed or pump, that sweet sweet relief is instantaneous. If you happen to be blessed, and your precious lil angel sleeps through the night - you WILL wake up covered in your own ✨liquid gold✨ feeling like your chest may explode. To curb the ‘gorge, make sure to nurse early and often – at least 10 times per 24 hours. Don’t skip feedings (even at night, when you really just want to sleep), make sure to keep switching sides, and pump em’ if ya got em’.
Our friend and Motherboard member Brandi Jordan over at Swehl, suggests: "8 or more in 24" re-feedings and the good thing about engorgement - it evens out once your body regulates and generally only affects breastfeeding parents in the first few weeks (phew). Parents can apply compresses (cold for pain relief and hot to stimulate more milk flow). Be careful with engorgement, as it can lead to clogged ducts! For those prone to clogging, check out Sunflower Lecithin supplements to help ease some of that pain”
(Did we mention that anytime you hear any baby crying, even if just on TV, you’ll be leaking like an old faucet? Just a lil fun fact 🥰💦)
4. You’ll mourn your days of breastfeeding once your journey comes to an end (and it’ll hurt like an f’in b, AGAIN )
Breastfeeding grief is a real thing. That bond and unspoken communication that only the two of you had shared can feel like it had suddenly been whisked away, and it’s low-key heartbreaking (yet simultaneously, totally amazing) watching those tiny hands gripping that bottle to feed themselves. It can feel devastatingly lonely, but please know it will pass and be proud of the journey you were lucky enough to share with your growing babe. When you want to stop your milk supply, make sure you do it SUPER gradually – if you try to cold turkey it - prepare yourself for engorgement, which can then lead to blocked milk ducts or mastitis which is a 0/10 stars from…anyone who’s been there tbh. Just remember to be kind to yourself, and always reach out for support if you need it.
5. Some of us can’t produce milk (or straight up just don’t want to BF) - and that’s perfectly OKAY.
Fed. Is. Best. No matter how it reaches that lil tummy in the end, the only important thing is just that. Not everyone can, or wants to take on the pressure of being the sole source of food + nutrition responsible for keeping AN ENTIRE child alive. Saying it’s a lot would be an understatement. If you’ve read this far, you now know it isn’t easy, so don’t you dare start judging yourself (or others!). If you’re feeling that mom guilt, just repeat after me: “My baby is healthy, thriving, and loved immeasurably. These are the things that matter most, and I am fu**ing crushing it.” Rinse and repeat, over and over. Cursing optional.