Dear Pre-Baby Me:
So you want to breastfeed your future baby. Good for you! You should do it. If you can, I mean. Not everyone is able to, and that’s okay. Not everyone wants to, either, and that’s also okay.
Here’s what no one tells you about breastfeeding, though: it’s fucking hard.
Wait, no — everyone tells you that. But what they don’t tell you is that even when it’s easy, it’s fucking hard.
You’ll be one of the lucky ones, Pre-Baby Me. You won’t have any issues with the mechanics of breastfeeding your child. There’ll be a bit of a learning curve, yes, but there won’t be any physical barriers to worry about. So it’s going to come as a bit of a surprise when despite that fact, it’s still really, really fucking hard.
In the first few weeks of life, your newborn will need to be fed every two to three hours, around the clock. This will be pretty much 100% up to you, because even though your husband is amazing and wonderful and incredibly supportive, he lacks the necessary equipment to help (other than handing you drinks, which will actually be very helpful since you’ll be thirsty AF). This means that every two to three hours, you will need to be awake to feed the baby. And in case that doesn’t sound quite exhausting enough, here’s another thing they never tell you: sometimes it’ll take two hours to feed her.
Did you do the math there, Pre-Baby Me? I hope you did, because you’re good at math and you should really keep up that skill (spoiler alert: you won’t, but you’ll wish you had). Two-hour feedings at two- to three-hour intervals means you will have anywhere from zero to one hour to rest in between.
I told you: breastfeeding is fucking hard. Even when it’s easy.
Here are a few other things they don’t tell you about breastfeeding:
- On day 3 postpartum, you’ll look in the mirror and see a strange porno-boobed woman staring back at you. This will come as a shock because although you knew your breasts would grow during pregnancy, no one told you that once your milk came in they would pretty much double in size in a matter of minutes. They will be rock-hard, roughly the size and shape of cabbages (yes, they will have ridges), and they’ll hurt like a motherfucker. Or two motherfuckers, I guess.
- Speaking of hurting, the rest of your body will hurt, too: your shoulders, your arms, your back and your neck will ache from holding the baby in just the right position in search of the elusive perfect latch that looked so easy to achieve in the videos they showed you at your prenatal classes. And that special breastfeeding pillow you bought? It won’t do nearly enough to help with the pain — although you will wear it around the house all day, looking like a cartoon character at the damn beach. Seriously, you’re pretty much going to be married to that thing. Well, that and your inflatable donut cushion … which is a whole other story.
- You will be ravenous and want to eat everything in sight. This will actually be pretty great (who doesn’t love eating all the things?), except for the fact that having a baby latched to your chest on a near-constant basis will make feeding yourself pretty challenging. Make sure to have lots of one-hand-friendly foods at the ready since you’ll be using the other arm to support the baby. Also, be prepared for the disappointing revelation that many of the foods you think can be eaten with one hand … can’t. (Looking at you, tacos.)
- Breastfeeding is a symbiotic relationship: as much as the baby will need to be fed, you will also need to feed her. Engorgement will happen, and it will hurt (sensing a theme here?). As a bonus, you’ll be producing more on one side than the other. This will result in not only a super-attractive lopsided effect, but also a fire-hose-esque letdown when the baby feeds from that side. Ever tried to drink from a fire hose? Take it from your future baby: it isn’t pleasant. Stock up on receiving blankets, because that stuff’s going to be everywhere.
- At some point, your baby will get teeth. It isn’t as terrifying as it sounds. No, wait — it totally is. On the bright (?) side, eventually you will lose all feeling in your nipples. So … enjoy that while it lasts.
- You will endure constant reminders of how incredibly lucky you are to be able to breastfeed your child, and even though you’ll mostly agree, you’ll also have moments where you wish you were bottle-feeding her so you could get one — just one night of uninterrupted sleep. You’ll find yourself inventing elaborate fantasies in which you are blessed with a full day, or, hell, even a couple of hours, where no one requires your magical cure-all boobs to solve their problems.
- In spite of all of the above, one day you will miss it terribly. That’s going to hurt too.
You just can’t win.
Keep on boobin’,