Once women finally give birth to their adorable, immaculate little ones, all of their fantasies about mom life tend to fade away. They once pictured themselves the epitome of a perfect parent—learning all of the tricks of the trade and flawlessly making life work with our new addition.
We feel, although we have some fear of the unknown, we have been privy to this new world of mom and baby life. We have friends and family, and maybe we were sitters and nannies for a while back in the day. Either way, we think we have this role crushed, and we are ready to rock it.
Then, the whole breastfeeding thing comes to light. We used to think it was so wonderfully natural and, although we had heard about complications and read up on potential challenges, we had confidence in our ability to master this skill.
Media demonstrates the maternal beauty and process that occurs so naturally. The truth is, when we decide to breastfeed our babies, we morph into someone we just don't recognize. We end up doing some pretty gross things that we never envisioned in our idealistic mental images of holding and feeding our new little nuggets. The following isn't for the faint of heart.
15 Try A Sip
Sometimes we just get the urge. Other times, our partners are curious and want a taste. We are not talking about a glass of milk to accompany our cookies for an evening snack. We are talking about milk that comes from our own bodies. According to Parents, this is a natural reaction from the people in our lives, including ourselves and our children.
Producing milk for our littles is a genuinely naturally-occurring and beautiful process. Honestly, if our milk is good enough for our babies, then it is clearly good enough for us to take a sip and try it out.
Some parents have a true desire to know what it tastes like out of sheer curiosity. Others want to know more what their babies are ingesting and what it tastes like, since it can change according to the types of foods we eat.
Ultimately, it is much more common than most people may even realize. Many parents find that breastmilk is much sweeter than what they would have anticipated. It will not harm any of the people in your life to try it. To allow them a sip of it, you can feed them as you would your newborn if you're really brazen, or you can pump and let them sip. We imagine most prefer the latter. But hey, you never know.
14 Skip The Suds
Many breastfeeding mothers may skimp a bit on their cleanliness when it comes to washing the milk suppliers. It is not that we simply quit showering and washing and just give up on life. Our hygiene is still quite important while we are pregnant and even after our baby is born. We just are much more aware and hyper-vigilant of what we put into and onto our new mommy bodies, especially with our new infant literally depending upon us for nutrition and sustenance.
Since our bodies can absorb certain chemicals—especially from outside sources such as lotions, soaps, perfumes and such—we must be more cognizant as to what we are using to lather up with when we're in the shower.
According to Skin Care By Alana,¸all sorts of perfumes and chemicals from these items can get into our skin and when our babies are chowing down, there is the chance they are ingesting these toxins. Some cleansers contain parabens and retinoids that can cause a reaction in our new little one. According to Fit Pregnancy, soap can dry out nipples even more, causing pain when we feed our littles as well. The best bet is to just rinse our girls with warm water.
13 Milk It Out
At times, Mother Nature can need a little extra push. We are sometimes forced to help her out when it seems like our mammary glands are not cooperating as they should be. Everyone needs help from time to time, and this is no different. Sometimes, with a horrified onlooker such as a husband or boyfriend, we are forced to milk ourselves to help the process along. Hey, our babies may have a little trouble latching and sucking, so we need to help out by making it readily available for ingestion. While some moms turn to breast pumps, others opt to do this manually.
From time to time, there is just some work that needs to be done in order to push the milk out a bit better while we are either pumping or as our baby is nursing.
All the while, we are wondering how crazy we must look and even how gross we may feel. We are not cows, and this can feel dehumanizing! According to Parents, to successfully massage and milk ourselves, we have to be able to replicate the sensation of our baby’s suckling. This help to get the milk out of all of our mammary tissue. Remember it is all for the good of the baby.
12 Let the Twins Hang Out
Breastfeeding can take quite a toll on the twins. Our breasts are surely tender, hurt way more than any boob should ever hurt, and have literally been through the ringer. Many mothers research bras that they can wear to help minimize this pain. Sometimes, there just isn't one that helps.
As a result, sometimes we like to just let the twins hang out on their own accord, especially if we are planning on a staying in the house kind of day. At times, we may leak. We may have unexpected visitors show up to see us and our new bundle of joy. Sometimes, we may even be a little thrown off guard as we open the door in our soaking, milky wet T-shirt and infant in tow. Most visitors expect this and those who do not just tend to act casual.
Going braless is not our best presentation; however, it is definitely necessary at times and especially when we are home and nursing on demand. Conveniently, according to Livestrong, bras can cause women to have low or bad milk supply. Going braless will just make you more comfortable and can even help make feedings easier. Not only will the twins be easily accessible, but they will not be negatively impacted by an ill-fitting bra.
11 An Unexpected Red Show
Chapped skin is bad enough on other parts of our bodies. When it comes to nursing on demand and feeding our hungry little one around the clock, our nipples tend to suffer a bit. They can get chapped, itchy and, ultimately—if not taken care of accordingly—they may bleed.
Nothing makes us feel grosser (well, almost nothing!).
We are horrified when it happens while we are actually in the process of feeding our infants.
We notice blood coming from these painful openings. We are equally mortified and flabbergasted by this vampire-like occurrence. With a newborn constantly suckling, it is no wonder we get a little dried out.
Luckily, according to Lifehacker, this is nothing serious, and it can be dealt with pretty simply with a little moisturization. Some of us even use our breast milk as a form of healing and adding moisture back to that dry skin. Regardless of how we choose to soothe our sometimes-painful nipples, we know it is normal. Lifehacker does recommend getting a doctors advice if it is almost impossible to feed because of the pain or if the pain presents in between feedings. Eventually, our nipples get the memo that they need to toughen up and start to become much more resilient.
10 Deal With That Smelly Shirt
People seem to forget to mention that by producing milk for new babies, we are prone to starting to smell. Sour milk becomes our new, gross reality. We feel like no matter how much we shower, do laundry, and change our sheets, we are haunted by the faint smell of sour breast milk. Mmmmm!
We are constantly lactating, leaking and nursing. Even babies with most epic digestive systems spit up throughout the day. According to Mamapedia,
our babies may spit up without us noticing, leading to the milk souring on our clothes or body. When we sleep, we don't even realize how much we can leak.
Milk—we unhappily realize—can casually seep into our sheets and even into our mattresses.
Our nasal passages are always on high alert, and we proudly hold the title of having the nose of a bloodhound. This is just one of those yucky situations that we come to either accept or manage by morphing into an OCD-oozing, Febreze-wielding super mom. We do secretly sympathize with those forced to also deal with our milky scent, as it seems stronger than even the worst body odor imaginable. Luckily, with frequent changes and becoming hyper-aware, we can avoid embarrassing smelly situations out in public.
9 Slather It On
The magic of breast milk goes well beyond the scope of just nourishing a child. Breast milk is an all-natural substance, and many moms actually use it to help with various skin problems for themselves and their babies. This really is a "thing" and a lot of mommies are experimenting with all sorts of ways to apply breast milk as a healthy, natural, topical ointment to treat a variety of skin conditions. These methods can be in the form of lotions, butters, and soaps.
For example, with our hormones all crazy and out of whack—especially after giving birth—some of us use our own breast milk as an acne treatment. According to The Herbal Healing Mama, some moms will apply it to their breasts as an added protection against irritation and dry skin—especially to prevent that unsightly bleeding.
Other mommies even use breast milk to help with their babies’ cradle cap. With all of the healthy and organic nutrients, this is a very cost-effective, all-natural, DIY skin treatment that appears to really work. It is amazing that our milk can work on both ourselves and our babies. It can likely work on other family members as well, but they may be more hesitant to slather it on.
8 Don't Be Shy
Try as we may, we sometimes find it difficult to be as cool and collected as we would like to be while breastfeeding in public. We try to be cognizant of people around us, especially children and men. We do not want to cause undue stress or questions from children whose parents are not ready to explain breastfeeding. Kelly Mom even speaks to some of the issues that people will bring up to us, like why we cannot just feed our child in a germ-ridden restroom. We also try to remain as put together as possible, so as not to slip a nipple out and flash any unsuspecting men.
Unfortunately, as elegant and together as we try to be, we are not fully capable of breastfeeding in public perfectly.
No matter what we have for capes or protective covers, there is still a high chance that there will be a boob that hangs too low or the transition of baby positioning accidentally causing us to become exposed. With all the leaky and chaotic things that happen while breastfeeding, we become aware that nursing in public could be messy. It is important to remember that we are doing this for our child’s well-being, so there is no shame in our game.
7 Get Milked
Some women who breastfeed have claimed that they get a little “milk drunk” during and immediately after nursing their babies. This does not mean that we drink it and become intoxicated. According to Lifehacker, when we lactate, certain feel-good hormones—oxytocin and prolactin—are released into the bloodstream and cause us a sense of euphoria.
This can feel relaxing and calming as we breastfeed our little ones. Since we are burning a lot of calories, that feel-good euphoria can come on even stronger (think of it like a runner’s high!). This is a beautiful form of intoxication, as it also helps moms bond further with their babies.
Not all women say they experience this and it is a little bit of a strange sensation. Regardless of whether or not we like this feeling or feel kind of weird about it, it can happen to us in a natural and biological way. Some mothers may even form an extreme attachment to breastfeeding their child, making it so they breastfeed their little for as long as possible. Regardless, the release of these hormones can at least put us in a better mood for the time being—making breastfeeding seem a little less taboo for some of us. Of course, it's far cuter seeing baby milk drunk than ourselves.
6 Become One With Public Restrooms
We never really loved public restrooms before we were moms. They are gross, dirty and a petri dish of every possible icky thing we can remember learning about in biology class. Short of running around with Lysol spray and toilet seat covers, we just kind of grin and bear the fact that we will have to use them from time to time. We never truly become accustomed to how often we may need to use them after we have our baby and when we begin to breastfeed.
While it is not mandatory for us to feed our babies in restrooms, there are times when we just do not have a private enough place to feed our little, and not everyone feels comfortable bucking the public breastfeeding system.
Some want to escape any lurking eyes and have a moment of privacy, and that's okay.
There are other moments when we need to run because we are suddenly lactating or we may need to head there to pump during certain times of the day or long road trips. According to Romper, we should always be prepared in case we have to use one of these restrooms to feed. We can bring sanitizers with us and hold the baby in a sling to prevent contamination. While we were fully expecting to become one with our baby, we will also become more at one with the public restroom than we ever thought possible.
5 Sleep In The Wet Spot
When we are nursing, we are bound to leak. It is a marvelous part of early momhood, and our infants are needy. One thing that we try to get used to, but likely never do, is lactating even when we are sleeping. We sometimes spring a little leak and may create a wet spot—or a massive puddle.
As we toss and turn and get up to feed our baby—and adjust ourselves under our nursing tank—we inevitably and inadvertently leak. It takes too much time and energy to work on changing the sheets or grabbing a towel (we will just make a mess of that, too, and make our laundry pile even bigger). We learn to accept having to always just sleep in a puddle of our milk. At this point, sleep is the most important thing, and at least we are sleeping, right? Luckily, Breastfeeding Basics says that our bodies will leak less as it figures out what baby needs.
According to Breastfeeding Basics, many of us will end up leaking on our babies if we are co-sleeping as well. If a child has a particularly good night’s sleep, we will not have to feed as often or as much, meaning there is a lot of breast milk trapped in there with nowhere to go—except out. Drip, drip!
4 Grab Your Goggles
On-demand feeding of our newborns brings about some challenges. One struggle we must combat as new moms is that sometimes we just may spray anyone in the general vicinity with our mommy milk. When we are producing milk and our baby is nursing, sometimes it comes out quickly. Even with our baby not currently nursing, one wrong move and a spray is a potential hazard that just goes with the territory here. According to Baby Center, this is more likely to happen in the morning when our milk is at peak production. It is not uncommon for women that are currently pregnant, either.
Poor dads learn the hard way to kind of duck and cover at certain times during nursing when they could very well become a moving target. Our breasts essentially have a mind of their own during this very productive (no pun intended) time of our postpartum, breastfeeding lives.
If our nursing pattern gets messed up, spraying is more likely to happen. Sometimes our little babies are also in the line of fire.
On occasion, this may mean that we need to feed more frequently to avoid this. Not all moms are able to stop this before it happens. Some of them just have to sit back and laugh.
3 Pump It Out
Sometimes we get clogged. We saw this scene in Neighbors where Seth Rogen had to help decompress his wife’s breasts. The gross and very real truth of the matter is that this is one of the most unglamorous parts of breastfeeding our new little addition that we may have to face. We have to deal with the pain of it and sometimes our breasts become sore and infected.
The Bump says they can even become hard and bumpy to the touch. We try to pump our milk and a scab clogs it up and becomes lodged in the machine. Or even worse (gasp!), our baby gags on it. Eek!
This stuff happens and it's totally yucky and one of the grossest parts of breastfeeding. The Bump says that this is more likely to happen if we have messed up our feeding schedule or had a bad latch while feeding. We may need to pump, compress and keep our breasts free to remedy this icky issue. Luckily, all of the positive aspects of this very act far outweigh the complications and parts that literally make us sometimes want to run for the toilet like our morning sickness has returned.
2 Coleslaw Crop Top
At times, we may smell like cabbage. According to My Nursing Coach, women are now using green cabbage leaves as a way to help alleviate the pain of mastitis and other breastfeeding-related discomforts. It also helps with engorgement and can slow down the milk production process.
New Scientist says that
women are using the cabbage leaves as a cold compress on the chest. Moms are putting cabbage in the freezer and then into their nursing bras to help relieve some of the irritation
and discomfort associated with breastfeeding. The recommended ratio is three leaves per breast.
The visual we get with this old folk remedy that is making a comeback among nursing women everywhere is a bit disturbing. Not to mention the thought of smelling like cabbage is not very endearing either. It appears to work, though. One of the ways that it does so is by reducing fluid retention in the breast tissue, which definitely aids in relief. Next time a nursing mommy walks past smelling a little—well–“cabbage-y,” try to suppress the urge to judge. This sweet relief, from a mix of the cold and the release of pressure, can be a life-changing moment for new moms.
1 Fight The Urge To Make A Keepsake
We do not want to be that bandwagon, do we? The trendy mom who just has to have a keepsake; however, we actually kind of do love this trend. According to Huffington Post, more and more moms are turning their breast milk into jewelry. We are intrigued by the thought of a breast milk keepsake, like a mommy milk locket, or a cast of our baby’s hand or footprint in our very own self-made milk. The breast milk is used to help create a form of clay that is imprinted into and then coated over in order to make long-last souvenirs of sorts. People are even referring to breast milk as the latest form of liquid gold.
There is also a very unique breastmilk soap—a product that is making many moms incredibly curious. Some people think this is all completely gross, though. We see both sides, but we understand the urge to keep something so special and unique. Moms can pass these treasures down their family tree for a tangible memory. Some mothers are concerned regarding the hygienic aspect of breast milk and wonder how an artist can capture the beautiful parts of breast milk without the smell. Many mommies believe in the healing properties of breast milk though. So, to each their own!
References: Parents, Skin Care By Alana, Fit Pregnancy, Parents, Livestrong, Life Hacker, Mamapedia, The Herbal Healing Mama, Kelly Mom, Romper, Breastfeeding Basics, BabyCenter, The Bump, Huffington Post, New Scientist, My Nursing Coach