Breastfeeding is as natural as breathing, but unfortunately, it is not as easy to start doing. This causes many women to think they are at fault or are less than perfect mothers because they are not sitting smiling angelically with a contented baby suckling three minutes after delivery. It can also prevent those same women asking the most basic of questions due to a misplaced sense of failure or embarrassment at their perceived lack of knowledge.
On top of that, we have the fact that our culture has evolved to considering certain body parts as being suggestive, even if they are being used to perform a biologically basic task.
This leaves many would-be breastfeeders with burning questions that they are too embarrassed to ask. It can be difficult enough to ask some of the most innocuous questions such as “does it hurt?”, as well as to broach the subject of piercings or breastfeeding during a certain time of the month.
Luckily, I have no such qualms over asking people about sagginess after nursing or their husband's reaction to being hit in the face with a squirt of breast milk during intimate moments. This is probably why I do not get invited to many social occasions anymore, but it also means I can answer those tricky, confusing, and awkward questions for you.
20 Isn’t It Supposed To Be Easier Than This?
Some mothers and their babies take to breastfeeding like ducks to water with few, if any, difficulties. Others are more like ducks on land, able to function but, with wobbliness and all the while feeling out of their comfort zone.
Breastfeeding is a natural act, but that doesn’t mean it is always easy. Nursing is a skill both you and your baby will have to learn, and just to be especially difficult, it can be easier or more difficult for the same mom with subsequent babies.
It does, however, get more comfortable over time and getting plenty of help and support makes all the difference.
19 Doesn’t It Hurt My Tater Tots?
The short answer is: not if you do it right.
If you have your baby correctly latched onto your breast for feeding, your entire nipple plus some of the surrounding areola will be deep inside your little one's mouth. If your latch is not right, your newborn will be clamping down on your nipple, causing you pain and leaving your child frustrated and hungry. In the long term, it will also affect your milk supply because your child is not feeding correctly and, in turn, stimulating further milk production.
If you are suffering from painful feedings, ask your medical professional for advice.
18 What Can I Do About Being Cracked & Chapped?
If you’ve had shallow latching issues, a milk blister, or a bite, you may end up with cracked nipples. If you do, resist the temptation to hold off on feeding on that breast. It might help in the short term will cause more problems than it solves in the long-term.
To begin with, feed on the uninjured side first, your baby is likely to feed less forcefully from the second breast. Rub some ice onto your breast, just before you start feeding and wash with salt water after a feed. Rub breast milk into the painful area and spend as much time as you can with the sore skin exposed to the open air.
17 Will Piercings Prevent Me From Feeding?
Nipple piercings need 12 - 18 months to fully heal and to develop the scar tissue that keeps the channel for the jewelry open. If your piercing is established in this way by the time you want to breastfeed, there is usually no problem.
Your nipples have between 8 and 12 pores through which the milk flows, and it is highly unlikely that your piercing has blocked all of the pores. There are generally no problems with milk flow, although on occasion a piercing can make the milk flow faster than usual.
16 How Do I Care For My Piercings While Breastfeeding?
Some women do breastfeed with flexible PTFE barbells in place, but it is recommended you remove all nipple jewelry during a feed to reduce the risk of your baby choking or of causing damage to the inside of your baby’s mouth. Even a flexible piece of jewelry could potentially cause rubbing and a subsequent blister that can interfere with feeding.
Jewelry can be replaced between feeds but be sure to keep both the jewelry itself and your breast clean to prevent bacteria being passed on to your baby. If you would prefer to leave it out, you can use an insertion taper on a regular basis to keep the channel open.
15 I Have Tattoos, Is It Safe To Breastfeed?
When you have a tattoo your body's inflammatory process walls off the ink from the rest of your body which is why the image stays put, under your skin where the artist created it. This also means the ink will not be leaking into your body, floating around your body in your bloodstream or being excreted in your breast milk, so existing tattoos are no problem, even if they are on your breast.
A professional tattoo artist will not knowingly ink a woman who currently breastfeeds because your body needs time to heal after a tattoo and that is more difficult when you are producing milk at the same time.
14 I Have Huge Assets - Can I Still Breastfeed?
It can be quite tricky to breastfeed your baby when you are well-endowed, but it is by no means impossible, and it all comes down to having a proper technique. When you have larger girls, your nipples and areolas can be more difficult for your hungry bunny to latch onto so, if possible, ahead of time you should learn about the “C-hold” or “v-hold” techniques for holding your breast while your baby latches on.
Also, do not worry about suffocating your baby. If he can’t breathe, he’ll release the latch and take a breath.
13 Can I Still Breastfeed If I'm An A-Cup?
Absolutely. The amount of fatty breast tissue - the stuff that fills up a bra cup -- has no bearing on the amount of milk you can produce or on your ability to breastfeed.
Women with smaller breasts produce the same amount of milk over a 24 hour period than their bigger boobed sisters; they just have a more limited space for storage between feeds. Try not to worry, plenty of moms with more compact chests happily feed their twins or produce so much milk they donate gallons of the stuff to milk banks.
12 I’m Unevenly Endowed, Will This Affect Nursing?
Regular disparities in breast size are not going to cause you any problems with breastfeeding, except perhaps trying to find a well-fitting nursing bra.
A small number of women who have one side significantly larger than the other, estimated at one per thousand, have a condition called insufficient glandular tissue or IGT. This condition, also referred to as breast hypoplasia, hypoplastic breasts, or underdeveloped breast can cause a woman to develop insufficient milk-producing tissue during adolescence and pregnancy, so they aren’t able to produce enough breast milk.
A mother with IGT may still be able to breastfeed; it’s just that she and her baby may also need some supplemental bottle feeding.
11 Can I Breastfeed If I’m Inverted?
Midwife Amanda Bude from Groovy Babies says approximately 10-20% of women have inverted nipples, which she says is simply "a version of normal."
"Babies latch onto the breast, not the nipple," she says, before going on to say that a technique called "reverse pressure softening" can stimulate the nipple to come out.
“The maneuver aims to push fluid back into the breast to relieve pressure. Apply pressure with two or three fingers of each hand at the sides of your nipple and hold for one to three minutes, until the tissue softens. The nipple then pops out, and the bub can easily attach."
10 Are My Tips Too Big For Nursing?
Large nipples can be an issue for breastfeeding moms and babies, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to successfully nurse your baby for as long as you both want.
For breastfeeding to go well, your baby has to take your entire nipple and a good amount of your areola into his mouth. As he feeds the milk ducts behind the areola are squeezed, and the milk is released, but if your nipples are huge he might have problems getting enough areola into his mouth to release the milk.
There are some ways to deal with this if it is an issue but be reassured as your baby grows larger it will become less of a problem.
9 Can I Still Have Fun While I'm Breastfeeding?
No, because you might drop the baby. Sorry, couldn't resist that one but it is definitely a great big yes to this question, although you may or may not feel like it. A combination of exhaustion, post pregnancy and birth body issues, and the out of control hormone train running wild in your system can make doing the mattress Mumba the last thing on your mind.
However, when you are ready to get down and dirty with your other half, it will not affect your breastfeeding in any way, and the physical act of breastfeeding does not impact your ability to enjoy the fun time.
8 Is Breastfeeding A Reliable Contraceptive?
Nope. No matter what people tell you, do not believe that you can rely on breastfeeding as a way to prevent pregnancy.
Even if you are exclusively breastfeeding, day and night, have not started to wean your baby or offer them any solid foods you can still get knocked up while nursing and this is true, even before your first period after the birth.
I speak from experience on this one, as a mom who wore her baby next to her for almost six months solid, exclusively breastfed and had not yet had her visits from Aunt Flow resume. If you don’t want another baby too soon, or at all, use something reliable, like making your husband move to another state.
7 Can Breastfeeding Be Stimulating?
The Journal of Perinatal Medicine published a report on breastfeeding, and part of the study addressed this question. They said:
“One issue rarely mentioned is that the breastfeeding experience is very sensuous in itself and some mothers may become aroused during breastfeeding. This is a normal phenomenon. Yet, mothers may feel guilty if they have these feelings. Consequently, some may decide to stop breastfeeding. Women need to be reassured that while pelvic [...] arousal is not a common response to breastfeeding when these feelings occur, they are normal.”
6 Why Do I Spray Milk When I'm In Bed?
When you get down and dirty with your partner, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin. This makes causes uterine contractions while making you feel relaxed and oh so good afterward. Oxytocin is also the hormone responsible for the let-down reflex, so it is not unusual for a breastfeeding mother to turn into a milk sprinkler as she enjoys herself.
This is a totally normal and natural thing to happen, and if it makes you uncomfortable, you can try emptying your breasts before getting saucy.
It is also a good idea to ensure your partner is aware this can happen as a sudden squirt of milk it the face can be a bit of a shock if you’re not expecting it.
5 My Partner Enjoys My Milky Up Toppers, Is This Normal?
In the study in the Journal of Perinatal Medicine previously mentioned, the authors also address this question.
“Seeing the mother-child dyad enjoying each other may be [...] exciting. Leaking breasts may be a [...] “turn-on” just as they may be a [...] “turn-off” (Wilkerson & Bing, 1988). Some men “enjoy” the taste of human milk and need to be reassured that this enjoyment is normal, while some men relish the spray from milk letdown on their bodies, and some couples use the milk to rub their bodies against each other [...] In summary, there are many responses or combinations of responses of a couple to the addition of lactation to their [intimate] life.”
4 I’ve Had Reductions - Can I Still Nurse?
Possibly, but it depends on the surgery you had. There is a good chance you will be able to breastfeed if the nipple and the areola remained attached to the underlying breast tissue during the surgery. If your nipple was removed and repositioned there is a higher chance that damage may have occurred to you nerves or milk ducts which may limit your chances of success.
The level of nerve damage is an issue because it is the stimulation of the nerves that trigger the release of prolactin and oxytocin, two hormones that affect milk production and letdown.
3 I've Had Upgrades - Will This Affect Breastfeeding?
It is possible that breast augmentation surgery will not affect breastfeeding, but it is also possible for it to cause issues. It depends on many things, including the techniques used by your surgeon and the amount of damage, if any, caused to you milk ducts during the procedure.
Another factor is the size of the implant and where in the breast it has been placed. If the implant is between the glandular tissue and the muscle layer, it is said to be more likely to exert pressure on the milk ducts and glands which may, in turn, interfere with milk flow and reduce your levels of milk production.
2 Can I Still Breastfeed When My Flow Returns?
There is no reason why you should stop breastfeeding when your periods return, but there are one or two things of which you should be aware.
First of all the changes to your hormone levels around the time of ovulation, may cause a slight, temporary change in the composition of your breastmilk. This does not affect the nutritional values, but it can make it slightly less sweet than usual for a couple of days. If your baby is fussy over feds for a couple of days in the middle of your cycle, this is possibly why.
The other issue is tender breasts. You might have to be extra careful at latch time.
1 Will Breastfeeding Leave My Girls Droopy?
Breastfeeding doesn’t make you saggy. According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnancy hormones that allow your ligaments and skin to stretch to accommodate your growing baby also cause things to stretch in the rest of the body, including your breasts.
The older you are when you have your baby and the more children you have to increase the likelihood that the skin of your breasts will stretch and cause a bit of "mothers droop" but this will or will not happen regardless of whether or not you breastfeed.
References: kellymom.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, essentialbaby.com.au, babyfriendlynl.ca, pedsofnepa.com, verywellfamily.com, breastcrawl.org, cindyandjana.com, livingandloving.co.za, fitpregnancy.com, healthywomen.org, babble.com, draxe.com, seattlechildrens.org