Skip to Main

If you are becoming a mom in the near future, it’s likely you’re already thinking about your feeding plans. If you are planning to breastfeed, there are a couple things you should know ahead of time to properly prepare yourself. Nursing can be a beautifully sweet bonding experience, yet it often requires hard work and an abundance of patience. These key points below will help you be ready to embark on the journey ahead!

1. It Doesn’t Always Click Right Away

In the movies it looks like the most easy and natural process. Sometimes it is! But more often than not, it isn’t.

There is a learning curve with breastfeeding for both you AND baby. There are a lot of variables at play between supply, latching, positioning and more. It takes some trial and error to figure out the best flow for you both. 

Don’t be discouraged if it takes some tweaking and doesn’t come naturally right away. Keep practicing, let your baby keep practicing, and you’ll get there. 

(And if you don’t, and it’s causing you stress to keep trying, it is perfectly okay to switch to formula or supplement! Fed is always best.)

2. The Truth About Lactation Consultants

Lactation consultants, or LCs, are professionals who offer support and guidance on breastfeeding. 

Finding a LC you trust can be crucial - not all LCs are created equal so don’t be discouraged if the first one (or two, or three) isn’t the best fit. I found the best support for me personally at the LCs who worked through our pediatricians office. The LCs through the hospital did not offer me the support I was looking for, and I know that experience is not unique.

I have also heard that there are at-home LCs which can be a great option to explore since they can see your exact breastfeeding set up.

3. Some Pain is Normal

People, including professionals, may suggest that breastfeeding should be entirely pain-free, implying that any pain means you’re doing it wrong. While there is a bit of truth to that, it’s more complicated than being so all or nothing. 

The truth of that statement is that unbearable pain is NOT normal. Do not sit through excruciating pain for the sake of breastfeeding. Typically this is the result of a poor latch. Unlatch and try again, possibly try a new position. Pain can also be due to a tongue tie. Have your little one evaluated to see if that could be something at play. 

LCs can be helpful in evaluating tongue ties and latches to ensure you and baby can have the least painful and most efficient breastfeeding experience possible.

There is some bearable pain that is normal though.

The first few weeks, your body is adjusting to a baby latching on, and there is bound to be sensitivity. I would say it took my body about a month before the discomfort truly subsided. The first few weeks were the worst, and it got better and better with each passing day.

Nipple balm and Silverette cups were crucial for me in protecting my sensitive skin.

4. Your Milk Goes Through Many Changes

Throughout your breastfeeding journey, your milk will go through numerous changes. 

When your baby is first born, your body will produce colostrum. This is a much thicker milk, rich in antibodies and nutrients to help protect your baby. It also helps to get your little one’s digestive system moving. Don’t be concerned if it isn’t much though, that’s perfectly normal. Your baby in their first few days of life has a very teeny stomach, so they don’t need much. This concentrated liquid is all they need!

Next comes transitional milk, and finally mature milk. Transitional milk is essentially the process of mature milk starting to replace colostrum as your milk supply comes in and grows. Mature milk is more volume than the previous two, but still contains all the nutrients your baby needs to grow!

After that, further changes will occur. Your body and your baby are constantly communicating, and your milk will adapt to fit your baby’s exact needs. You can notice changes in color, volume, fat, and more. It’s really cool!

5. The Experience Will Vary Baby to Baby

A smooth first breastfeeding experience with baby number one doesn’t guarantee a smooth subsequent breastfeeding experience. Each baby is different, and they each have learning and adapting to do with breastfeeding. While breastfeeding experience with your second, third, etc. child might help, remember that each baby is new to it, and they need practice!

6. You Might Leak

And by might, I mean you definitely will!

Leaking is a thing, usually in the early months of breastfeeding. It can happen if you’ve gone too long between a feeding, if you look at your baby too long, if you hear your baby cry, if you hear ANOTHER baby cry (this one surprised me!), and many other factors. Have some breast pads on hand to keep and leakage through your shirt to a minimum!

7. Letdown Turns the Faucet On

You might have heard the term letdown when it comes to breastfeeding, but if not, it’s essentially the release of milk as your baby nurses. It doesn’t happen immediately once your baby starts feeding, the amount of time it takes varies person to person. 

Your baby will latch on and suckle, doing quick sucks for a period of time (this will be short), and then that will signal to your body to turn on the faucet of milk and release it, and you should notice your baby go from quick sucks to longer ones. 

This is a really fascinating feature of our bodies! It helps ensure you aren’t just leaking and spraying milk all the time. It keeps the bulk of your milk stored up for when your baby lets your body know they’re ready to eat. 

Some women feel their letdown, some women have emotional responses to their letdown, and some women feel neither. All normal!

In the end, patience can take you far when it comes to a breastfeeding journey. It can be beautiful and wonderful, but it also can be challenging. Go in with curiosity and the understanding that it is a journey. There will be ups and downs. If you ride out, you will be left with an incredible bond with your sweet little baby!