My Midwife didn’t warn me about that!
Instead of a soppy post about how amazing our journey has been and how lucky I feel to be able to breastfeed my daughter (which I do), I thought I would inject a bit of light hearted fun into the week and warn all of you mothers-to-be about the things the midwives don’t tell you.
1. Your newborn doesn’t give a damn who the milk comes from:
You may want to warn visitors to wear high cut tops, unless they are down with wet nursing. Your little bundle of joy will nuzzle into any warm, welcoming chest if their tummy is rumbling, even Grandad’s.
2. You need different sized bras for morning and night:
Depending on your baby’s sleeping schedule, you will probably find that sometime during the morning you look like Katie Price, and feel like you could model for the cover of FHM. By early evening that E cup bra is hanging off your deflated balloons and you understand why your mother-in-law warned you that breastfeeding will give you spaniel ears for breasts.
3. In the early days – you stink:
This isn’t always the case but I guess I was lucky. All of the weird hormones flying around your body, and I am assuming the fact that your milk producing glands are modified sweat glands, may mean that for the first few months of breastfeeding, you stink. Remember when I told you that I couldn’t make that lunch date because Poppy was over tired/poorly/teething/all of the above? I meant to say that I just couldn’t shift this smell of B.O and didn’t want to put you off your food. Of course if you manage to avoid this lovely by-product of breastfeeding, you are still likely to smell pretty offensive. Sour milk anyone?
4. You might just leak all of the time:
Pre-baby, if someone had told me they had enjoyed a milk bath, it would have conjured up romantic images of some new-age spa treatment in a mountain retreat, surrounded by exotic flowers and floating candles. Nine months later and I was having them on a daily basis, through no choice of my own. But hey, at least when we had unexpected visitors, we didn’t need to worry about having the fridge stocked with fresh milk.
5. Your baby does not care about your dignity:
Poppy has never been the type to settle down for a cozy, lazy, relaxed feed. At least not when we are in company. God forbid she misses something more interesting! She latches on and off and on and off, making sure everyone gets a good look at my chest in the meantime. I have heard people say it IS possible to feed discreetly…I am skeptical. At first you feel self-conscious, but you soon surround yourself with understanding people who you know are not offended by a woman’s beautiful, natural anatomy. If that isn’t possible you get very quick at the top up, top down, top up, top down maneuver and hope that in your sleep deprived state you, don’t get it the wrong way around. TIP: By all means relax in the comfort of your own home and let your baby latch on and off as much as they please without a care in the world. But I speak from experience when I say that if you are so relaxed that you haven’t noticed you are still undressed after your baby is finished and playing on the floor, just make sure the curtains are shut if it is around the time that the postman does his rounds. That parcel exchange was the most awkward I ever had.
6. Nursing bras are hideous:
When I was pregnant I went to get fitted for a new maternity bra. The woman in the shop clearly mistook me for an 80 year old virgin as she fetched the most hideous contraptions I have ever seen. I swore that I could still be a Mum, a breastfeeding Mum, and be sexy too. I was wrong. A year later and I am longing for those supportive, practical, beige, boulder holders as I desperately faff about with uncomfortable, lacy, balconette bras every time Poppy gets hungry. I try to pretend that she isn’t the only other person who ever sees them, but who am I kidding?
7. Babies are not immobile, floppy, blobs forever:
Eventually they learn how to sit up, crawl, do the crab…and you might find they like a “drive-thru” as much as the next person. You see babies are busy little beings with lots to learn, and sometimes they just don’t want to stop and do nothing whilst they eat their lunch. If you breastfeed lying down, like I do on occasion, you may find your baby getting into all sorts of funny positions, nipple still in mouth. It is actually quite amazing how stretchy those things are. Downward dog was a favorite in our house for a while, sometimes with a little twerking for good measure. Sometimes she doesn’t have time for a full tank. She stops, mid-play, pulls down my top as affectionately as you would unscrew a petrol cap, and refuels, sitting bolt upright the entire time. The blue-eyed baby in the follow-on milk advert doesn’t do that.
8. Babies are also very flexible:
Settling down for a good feed is the perfect time to practice their acrobats. Foot to face is the favorite…your face that is. I am kicked in the face and have toes up my nose on a regular basis. A word of warning: when your baby first discovers they can do this. DO NOT PLAY KISS THE FOOT! It is cute the first time, your baby looks at you and giggles as you pretend to nibble their sweet little toes. But the thing is, babies like repetition. Mums like peace and quiet. So if you want to make the most of that “peaceful” twenty minutes, try not to interact with them at all.
9. Nipples are to babies what speed is to sniffer dogs:
There are times during the night when I do my best not to feed Poppy back to sleep. But, for practicality reasons I don’t always sleep with a top on (sorry for the mental picture, or you are welcome depending on who you are). So there I am lying on my front, absolutely adamant that my goodies are staying firmly squished into the mattress as I attempt to shush her back to sleep. Poppy is rooting around and I have this very brief smug feeling of power (I did not just say that, all of my AP friends close your ears!), when all of a sudden, out of nowhere I feel a familiar suckling and Poppy is looking pleased as punch as she drifts into a milky dream. How….? Wha…? I told you they were stretchy!!
10. Breasts are really interesting for a 10 month old:
*See earlier points about elasticity of nipples
So we are 11 months in and the fun continues! But would I change a thing? Absolutely not. For all of the inconveniences, there are so many positives. If you are considering breastfeeding, do it, do it, do it – just don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Vanessa is a 25 year old stay at home mom and student. She and her partner live in the UK with their daughter, Poppy.
Photo credits: Vanessa Howe
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