Breastfeeding tips for new moms based on the nine things that surprised me most about breastfeeding a newborn.
Though I learned a lot about breastfeeding prior to delivery, I still experienced plenty of breastfeeding surprises as a new mom. Some of these surprises were certainly unpleasant, while others were welcome. You may have a completely different experience, but there are things about the highs and lows of breastfeeding that I was definitely not expecting. So without further delay, let’s discuss the nine things that surprised me about breastfeeding!
Breastfeeding Surprise #1: Engorgement
The day my milk came in was probably the most challenging day for me in my breastfeeding journey. I had done my best to prepare, but I still felt unprepared.
During engorgement it felt impossible to achieve a correct latch and I became sore, worried, and overwhelmed. I tried to use reverse pressure softening, but after hours of struggling, I found I needed to use my breast pump for just for a couple of minutes to relieve the pressure.
Even after my short pumping session, my baby still struggled to latch. My supportive husband helped me to stay calm and determined. Though I was exhausted, I was eventually able to successfully feed my baby again.
Breastfeeding Surprise #2: Oversupply
In the early months of breastfeeding, I encountered some issues with overproduction. I was quite surprised that I could make so much milk! I had no idea that an overfull breast can complicate feedings. For example, the milk may rush out at a high speed during letdown, which babies do not like. This overactive letdown was particularly an issue on my right side. To manage this issue, I had to hand express until the spray settled down. Eventually my oversupply issues went away, which simplified the breastfeeding process.
Breastfeeding Surprise #3: I Didn’t Use Most of My Freezer Stash
I was able to build up a healthy freezer stash by pumping once a day. It was my goal to keep an entire week’s worth of frozen milk ready for my baby. However, most of my frozen milk went to waste because I bottle-fed my baby so rarely. It wasn’t fun to throw all of that milk away! That said, I don’t regret building up a freezer stash. I just wish I’d had a better plan for using it. Which leads me to my next point:
Breastfeeding Surprise #4: I Wish I Had Known How To Donate Breastmilk
Because I ended up throwing away so much expressed milk, I wish I had known how to donate breast milk! I would have loved to serve NICU babies in this special way. There’s a 3-4 week process to become a breast milk donor. By the time I looked into it, I realized the freezer stash I had would go bad before I qualified and I did not intend to continue pumping on a daily basis.
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a breastmilk donor, check out this article.
Breastfeeding Surprise #5: My Period Came Back Quickly
I’d heard that my period might not come back until I weaned. Nope! Even though I was breastfeeding my baby around the clock, my period returned three months postpartum. I never relied on breastfeeding as a form of birth control, and I’m so glad that I didn’t!
Breastfeeding Surprise #6: Slow, Incremental Weight Loss
It seemed like everywhere I turned I read that breastfeeding would help me lose my pregnancy weight. And it did! But it was definitely a gradual process. I know women who become very thin while breastfeeding. That was not me! It took me nine months to put on forty pounds, and nine months to lose the weight. I have no doubt that breastfeeding was instrumental in helping me lose that weight, but it was not an instant process.
Breastfeeding Surprise #7: Extended Breastfeeding
I would have laughed out loud if you’d told me that I would breastfeed my baby for sixteen months. Sixteen months?!? Breastfeeding for a year sounded like an ideal goal, but also sounded like a stretch. Yet, once I found my breastfeeding groove, extended breastfeeding was completely manageable. I never would have guessed!
Breastfeeding Surprise #8: I Felt Sad About Weaning
Though I breastfed much longer than I anticipated, I still felt sad about weaning. Even though we were down to one feeding a day at bedtime, I was hesitant to let go of this ritual. But my baby was ready. I definitely cried about it.
While weaning was emotional, I was so grateful that I was able to breastfeed successfully. And I felt very lucky that I did not experience any post-partum depression that can sometimes be associated with weaning.
Breastfeeding Surprise #9: Breastfeeding Built My Confidence
Establishing a breastfeeding routine was hard! At times I thought it was too physically and emotionally demanding. My nipples hurt. My back hurt. I didn’t like wearing nursing bras or nursing pads. I was very tired. But you know what? After about six weeks, it started getting easier. Once I made it through those first few months, I felt a surge of confidence and achievement. I had done something hard, something that I wasn’t sure I could do!
Breastfeeding gave me a big confidence boost as a new mom. It showed me that I could do hard things. It honestly gave me a renewed sense of confidence. This new confidence was a breastfeeding surprise I never would have expected.
If you’re a new mom, breastfeeding may surprise you in more ways than one. It may be harder than you expect, and if you’re really lucky, it may be easier! Every mother and child has a unique relationship to breastfeeding and no one’s story is the same. I experienced a few unpleasant breastfeeding surprises, but I’m so glad I was able to build my confidence as a mom in this happy and unexpected way.
For a list of everything you’ll need to manage your own breastfeeding surprises, check out The Ultimate Breastfeeding Checklist for New Moms!
My name is Kate and I live in a California beach town with my husband & baby girl. At High Low Baby, I review baby products at high and low price points.