Despite many mothers-to-be taking a breastfeeding class or reading a book about nursing to prepare for feeding their new babies, a lot can still be shocking when it comes to breastfeeding and the changes your body experiences. Here are a few weird things that many new mothers would never expect happen to them … but that are totally normal!
Leak … when someone else’s baby is crying. Mother nature did not program our breasts to only let the milk start flowing when our own baby was crying in hunger. Nope, for many nursing mothers the wails of any baby will lead to the same reaction! This can sometimes be a bit embarrassing and is why some women will wear nursing pads to absorb any leaked milk. For others it’s no big amount and no big deal.
Have one breast take over. Many new mothers will try to have their baby nurse evenly at both breasts, which is a good idea when breastfeeding is being established for an adequate milk supply. However, over time one breast often pulls ahead as the one that makes more milk on average. Women who pump exclusively or often at work can attest to this. It doesn’t mean you have one “defective” breast or won’t be able to make enough milk for your baby. In most cases, breastfeeding mothers see some difference between their breasts and have no issues at all.
Feel pins and needles when your milk lets down … or nothing at all. The milk let-down reflex is when milk is being ejected from the cells that store milk. Some women will feel pins and needles or a tingling sensation, while others feel nothing. For those who don’t have any sensation, this can be very scary as they often wonder if their baby is getting any milk or if their breasts are working correctly. Fear not: this is totally normal, and you can use other signs to know your baby is getting milk, such as good nappy (diaper) output, milk dribbling from his or her mouth, and (best of all) a happy, contented, calm baby while feeding.
Hurt! Your back, your shoulders, your wrists. All the pictures you find in parenting magazines show women gloriously feeding their babies without a care in the world. The real scenario, however, is often very different: hunched over in weird positions, supporting your growing baby with your arms since you left your nursing pillow who-knows-where. This combined with the joints in your body being super flexible thanks to the hormones of breastfeeding can take a toll on your body, and lead to back pain, sore shoulders, and even carpal tunnel syndrome. You can fight back, however, with good support and positioning while nursing and working on your core and stability via yoga, Pilates, or other exercises.
Feel dry … down there. Breastfeeding keeps a woman’s estrogen levels low, and this can lead to vaginal dryness. This can sometimes make sex painful or uncomfortable. What seems like an embarrassing problem is actually super common, and the good news is there is help available in the form of lubrications and creams. Be sure to ask your doctor or midwife, and they can help you out.
Go from feeling super engorged to not full at all — without a worry for your milk supply. When a woman’s milk first comes in and during those first few weeks of nursing, she may feel like even a slightly delayed feeding results in huge, engorged breasts. However, after the first few months it is totally normal for the breasts to adjust to baby’s needs and not feel as full. This makes many women think they are losing their milk supply, when really it’s just their bodies acting totally normal and being in sync with their babies. Worried still? Look for the signs of a well-fed baby mentioned in number three, or check in with your lactation consultant.
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