Breastfeeding is a time for mother and baby to bond. There’s tons of literature on the benefits of breastfeeding: Breastfeeding helps a baby’s immune system. It releases chemicals like the “love hormone," and helps establish a strong emotional bond between mamma and baby.
Breastfeeding is also known to have positive effects on a new mom such as helping the uterus shrink to its pre-pregnancy size. Baby gets fed and you get back into your old clothes. It’s a win-win situation all around!
While breastfeeding seems so magical, any experienced mama can tell you: when breastfeeding, the struggle is real. It’s a journey filled with tears, trials, and tribulations, but at the end of the day, babies look so darn cute nursing.
Experienced mamas will also tell you - breastfeeding isn’t just about seeing your baby’s cute face up close. In fact, the things that babies do when nursing so weird, you wonder if there’s something wrong with your child. Even within a family, the variation in breastfeeding behavior from one child to the next is so staggering, that it’s hard to believe that the share the same DNA. If you’re looking forward to breastfeeding, this list of 15 freaky things breastfeeding babies do is for you.
Spoiler alert: The actions depicted are 100% normal.
15 Left Or Right? The Baby Will Pick A Favorite
Experienced mamas will tell you, babies definitely do have a favorite boob. My daughter will nurse from either side, but when she is sleepy or cranky (like now when she is teething) she will only nurse from the right side.
There’s plenty of reasoning behing favorite boob syndrome: a baby might prefer the left boob because it’s closest to mom’s heart. Or it’s easier for baby to latch onto one breast over the other. Being left handed or right handed may have something to do with it, too.
If your baby has a favorite you will no doubt notice a difference in breast size. In that case, try to encourage baby to nurse more from the other side, but only when they’re in a good mood. This will help restore (some) balance to your uneven bosoms.
14 Say Hello To Baby Dracula
This may be a fear of yours if you're nursing and your little one hasn’t yet gotten any teeth. You might be wondering how to work out the mechanics of nursing once tiny teeth do appear. Rest assured that babies can’t actually bite while nursing since their tongue covers their teeth. Still, babies are keen to try biting when teeth finally rupture that a bite here and there is unfortunately inevitable.
Once those little chompers finally come in, you'll want to take extra care when baby latches on and finishes. If you want to nip this habit in the bud, gently stop nursing once you feel a bite. Then, based on your baby’s reaction, you can resume nursing a few seconds or even a minute or two later. For the most part, biting is only a issue for a few days, a week or two at the most, so hang in there mama! You’ve already made it this far!
13 Play With The Girls Like A Toy
Some of the freaky (and painful) actions that you can look forward to on your journey of breastfeeding include: nuzzling, gumming (especially if baby is teething), pulling, pinching, and flicking of the nippies. There’s no denying it - there’s something about the girls that babies simply love. And who can blame them? That’s where all of mommy’s yummy milk comes from!
Now that my daughter is weaning, I’ve been slowly introducing her to a sippy cup… only to catch her playing with the nipple, flicking it back and forth, perfecting the skills that she will later use on me. It’s a habit I’m trying hard to stop, but with little success.
You’d think that babies would show their appreciation with a little bit more love, but those little hands are fingers are full of curiosity and to explore world around them, including your fabulous body, mama!
12 Give Themselves A Bald Spot
If your baby isn’t pulling on your hair, then it’s not uncommon to catch them pulling on their own tuffs of hair. A part of it is baby’s way to self-soothe and another part is that baby can’t resist touching their smooth or curly strands.
Your baby might even get a bald spot or two, but don’t fret! It will all grow back in due time. If it truly concerns you, try to distract baby by kissing his fingers or holding her hands. You can also take over by massaging the spot for baby. Another option is a nursing necklace to help refocus all that energy and introduce baby to tactile play. Remember, everything is new to them since being born and they’re ready to test out their new motor skills.
11 Hungry For Comfort, Not Milk
What is it this time? You wonder as you whip out your boob for what seems to be the fifth time in two hours. Is your baby hungry? Is your baby sick? Nope. She just wants a bit of attention from mama and skin-on-skin contact.
You don’t want to be a human pacifier, I get it, mama. I really do. I literally spent nights crying that I felt like a sow on her side with 8 piglets suckling 24/7. But, did you ever notice how all pacifiers look like nips? That’s because they were modeled after the bosoms. Nipples are the first pacifiers!
If you find that your baby likes to comfort nurse frequently and you can’t handle it, try baby wearing around the house to give an alternative form of comfort and to reduce your stress.
10 Take A Snooze
The jury is out on nursing baby to sleep. But it isn’t uncommon for a baby to doze off while nursing. A baby who falls asleep while nursing could be trying to tell you one of two things. The obvious message is, “I’m full.” Being wrapped up in mommy’s arms with a full stomach is surely a way to invite sleep! On the other hand, a baby may sleep if they’re not getting enough to fill their little tummies.
But, why would a baby sleep if they're not full? A baby might fall asleep when the milk flows too slowly. In this case, try to reposition baby to latch on deeper. If you are worried about waking a sleeping baby, tickling their feet or stroking their cheek should do the trick. There’s no need to wake them fully to nurse.
If you are unsure if your baby has has enough to drink, lightly touch your breast. Do they feel softer? Less full? This may mean that baby has had their share.
9 Feeds Until The Girls Feel Empty
Cluster feeding is when a baby feeds several times within a span of only a few hours. It can be a source of much stress added to all the other things that stress you out as you try to get a hang of motherhood. Even experienced mamas aren’t immune to the stressful demands of cluster feeding.
Whether it's your first baby, or third, the constant demands to nurse might make you feel inadequate, like you can’t feed your baby enough. However, cluster feeding has nothing to do with your milk supply. The simple truth is, cluster feeding is completely normal and can happen at certain stages of a baby’s development. Babies might also cluster feed if they're ill.
The good thing is that cluster feeding typically happens during a growth spurt and in the evenings. So, mark your calendars for baby's next growth spurt, set your watch, and be patient. It'll all be over before you know it.
8 Gives Mom A Massage
No, seriously. Breastfeeding babies are known to massage mommy’s bosoms. More accurately, this “massage” is actually called “compression” and it’s all part of a baby’s natural instinct. Compression works by regulating the flow of your milk and helping you maintain your milk supply. In turn, this helps prevent or clear up blocked ducts and mastitis.
If you would like to massage your own bosoms, take cues from your baby’s technique. When baby is nursing, gently squeeze downwards on your tatas, moving towards the nip. This movement will help stimulate let-down as well as help your milk flow better.
Breast compression and massages are also useful for relieving discomfort when your boobs feel heavy or full and you are unable to nurse your baby immediately.
7 Do Acrobrats
I miss the newborn stage if only because my daughter nursed passively. Now she's all over the place - breastfeeding standing up, upside down, sitting on my lap, feet on my shoulders, twisting her body. It’s a wonder that she hasn’t broken anything - yet! Acrobatic nursing plus the mama attacks makes me really want to give up on breastfeeding sometimes.
You’re likely to see extreme acrobatic nursing if you nurse your baby to sleep, and especially when your little one is not so little anymore. If the acrobatics are simply too much, try a calming activity like story or music time. In my case, I play some music while patting my daughter's back. I’ve been told that these acrobatic feats, like everything else, shall pass.
I find myself looking forward to my daughter's independence, but I end up feeling guilty. Once she’s fully weaned, there will be no going back, and I will miss all of the freaky things she did when breastfeeding.
6 The Pull, Punch, And Kick
When I say “attack you," I really do mean attack you. I’m talking about anything from a surprise punch to the mouth, a sharp kick in the abdomen, a random slap across the face, deep scratches across your boobs - you name it, it’s definitely happened to a mom out there at one point or another. My favorite is when nursing my daughter to sleep, she repeatedly kicks me in the stomach. Good thing a little brother or sister is not in the cards for her yet.
Another thing you'll want to look out for is pulling. Whether it’s your hair, your shirt, nose, a necklace given to you from your grandmother, those earrings you forgot to take out after coming home from work - basically whatever it is in within arms reach, watch out! Those tiny fingers will pull on anything.
5 Stare Off Into Space
Before you began to breastfeed, you might have had this lovely idea of you and baby cuddled together in the armchair, gazing lovingly into each other's eyes. This time spent together and eye contact between parent and baby helps create emotional attachment and a strong bond between you and baby. Well, I hate to be the bearer of news, moms - don’t get disappointed if it seems like your baby is more interested in your choice of wall paint!
When my baby stares off into space, it genuinely freaks me out to no end. I seriously have come to believe that my house is haunted. It’s all in the way my daughter suddenly stops nursing, cocks her head up, stares into space intently and smiles before getting back to her boob. I sincerely hope it’s nothing more than a milk high.
4 Fill Up The Diaper
I can't imagine eating or drinking while on the toilet, but for babies, pooping whie nursing is second nature to them. Especially in the newborn stage, they poop when nursing or right afterwards. Rather than get grossed out, take it as a cue that your little one has had enough.
Remember that as a newborn, a baby has a very, very very, tiny tummy capacity. Whatever goes in, comes out almost immediately. This small stomach, coupled with the fact that breastmilk is highly digestible, means that you can expect a soiled diaper after practically every feeding session. You will notice that your breastfed baby’s poop has only a slight smell, is yellowish, and has seeds in it (which are actually milk curds). Always consult with a pediatrician if you think something is unusual.
3 The Baby Might Not Be Interested
Some breastfeeding behavior is comical. Others can be downright frustrating. Trying to breastfeed a distracted baby is like trying to catch a greased pig. They wiggle, squirm and it seems like they have no interest in nursing whatsoever.
Distraction typically occurs from 2 to 6 months of age. It can get really bad at 4 to 5 months of age. The worst part about breastfeeding a distracted baby is that they often forget to let go before turning around!
While nursing a distracted baby can be frustrating, remember that your baby is simply testing out new skills. Being able to control their head and neck, and figuring out with those arms and legs can do are all a part of growing up. If baby's movements are too much for you, try covering up or dim the lights.
2 Scream And Cry
A baby that fusses while breastfeeding could be bothered by one or several issues. Unfortunately for you, mama, until you find the problem, nursing will be tough for both you and baby. For one, you may have a very forceful letdown, which is when too much milk is coming out. This was the case with my daughter once my supply came in.
I was constantly changing my nursing pads and nursing tops. Thankfully, this only lasted for a month or so, and I had to figure out how to control the flow from one breast and catch the milk coming out from the other side. Fun times.
If a forceful letdown is not the problem perhaps a low supply may be the reason. It could be that baby needs to burp, or baby has reflux issues. Other causes could be poor latch, position of baby, teething, stuffiness, allergy, tongue-tie, a growth spurt...the possibilities are endless! If fussiness continues, don’t be afraid to see a lactation specialist or consult a professional. You’re not alone!
1 Play Dentist
Whether it's pure curiosity about the pearly white objects that are a permanent fixture in mommy’s mouth, or a deep jealousy stemming from a lack to teeth to call their own, babies just seem to love putting their fingers in mommy’s and exploring to their heart’s content.
How they manage to pry your mouth open is a mystery, but when you further open your mouth to say “Stop!” you’ve just unwittingly gave permission for a full on dental exam. And pursing your lips, frantically humming “No,” while furiously moving your head back and forth to avoid quick hands turns it into a game for your baby. A game that you will lose. Every. Single. Time.
Before your next nursing session, consult with your employer about dental insurance, deductibles, and copay - you'll need this information for baby’s next spontaneous dental exam!
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