When Peeper was born, I visited lactation specialists several times a week to try to get breastfeeding to work for us. She was my first baby, so I didn’t really know what breastfeeding should feel like—but I was pretty sure it shouldn’t feel stabby/excrutiating/make-me-cry painful.
When I asked one of the lactation nurses what breastfeeding should feel like, she gently pulled on my thumb. “Like that,” she said. I was bewildered; when Peeper latched, breastfeeding was definitely not that gentle.
Fast forward past many lactation appointments, a belated tongue tie correction, the use of a nipple shield and a lot of persistence, and breastfeeding finally did feel good—I finally got to the point where breastfeeding didn’t hurt.
But that’s not the only part of how breastfeeding actually feels. In short, it can hit a whole bunch of emotions, too. So if you’re wondering what you’re in for when you breastfeed your baby, read on.
What breastfeeding actually feels like
- Relaxing. Your body releases oxytocin—the so-called love hormone that can help you and baby bond—when you have a letdown. That hormone can trigger a feeling of deep relaxation. I can feel my entire body let go of tension when my milk lets down—a real bonus in today’s harried world!
- Claustrophobic. You may feel smothered because of your baby’s total dependence on you (and, specifically, your breasts!). For me, breastfeeding sometimes triggered a panicky urge to get away, especially when I felt trapped since neither baby ever took a bottle easily. If you’re occasionally feeling panicky or claustrophobic while breastfeeding, know you’re not alone. If you feel that all the time, though, you should consider talking to your physician—you might be experiencing symptoms of postpartum anxiety (which is as common as postpartum depression yet less discussed).
- Blissful. The one-on-one time you get with your baby while breastfeeding is great for bonding, so don’t be surprised if you stare down at her and realize you are so. in. love. The overwhelming adoration can be a little overwhelming, but this is the best part of what breastfeeding should feel like.
- Boring. If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you’re probably breastfeeding a lot. Like, probably enough hours to count as a part-time job. So you may doze off (make sure you’re breastfeeding while sleeping safely!). You may scroll aimlessly on Facebook. You may binge watch old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy.
- Annoying. “What, I just fed you!” If that response sounds familiar, it’s because just about every breastfeeding mom has felt frustrated by her baby’s request/demand to nurse—even if he just finished!
- Difficult. Breastfeeding is supposed to be easy, right? Well, not necessarily. Breastfeeding is brand-new for your baby and maybe you, too. So you might need some practice before nursing is as easy as *insert nipple in mouth* and GO! To get there, check out a La Leche League meeting, find a new moms group or schedule a lactation appointment.
- Rewarding. Once you get the hang of breastfeeding, you will be so proud that you have provided the nourishment your baby needs to become a thriving, curious, beautiful tiny person.
What did breastfeeding feel like for you—the good, the bad, the everything? Comment below!