I've said it before and I'll say it again — there are things your boobs will do when breastfeeding that will freak you out, regardless of how natural you think it is and how normal your lactation consultant tells you it is. It's OK to be freaked out about your body. Remember when you actually grew boobs? That was freaky enough. Now you have stuff leaking out of them, a baby using them to nourish themselves, and they no longer fit into any of your bras that you bought three months ago.
Everything from learning how to find the proper latch to maneuvering your way into the perfect position is important, and sometimes panicking over those little details makes it even more of a shock when you realize your nipples are spraying milk like a shower head instead of a hose pipe. But hey, that's what makes your body a wonderland, my friend. Your breasts are doing exactly what they are intended for, even if it makes you feel a little unsure of your own anatomical landscape. The good thing is, regardless of how freaky these nine moments are, they are all still normal. Your breasts go through changes no matter what, and breastfeeding just brings about certain ones.
1. They Look Like Road Maps
Hey, geography is sexy when it looks like your breasts are globes, right? International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Kate Fresso tells Romper that one thing that might freak you out is veining. "You may notice that in addition to your breasts looking gigantic and feeling hard and hot, your chest is now a road map of blue veins," Fresso says. "But it's normal and it happens because more blood flow and oxygen is going to your breasts to get that milk flowing."
2. They Leak
Fresso says that leaking is a hot topic because it's both normal for it to happen and normal if it doesn't. In fact, some women freak out if they don't and assume it means they have low supply, but that's not the case either. "Leaking has less to do with your supply and more to do with the musculature in your nipples," she says. "Looser muscles equal more leaking." She recommends that, either way, it's best to stock up on some nipple pads just in case.
3. They Tingle
You'll hear a lot about your milk ejection reflex, also known as your let-down. But did you know you could feel it? Fresso says that the reflex is triggered by stimulation, either from your baby or a pump, but you can have them before your baby even starts feeding. "You might have one when your baby, or even someone else's baby, cries, or your body might tell you that it's time to feed the baby," Fresso says. "Some people experience a tingling sensation, some feel a tightening, some feel a slight pain. Other people don't feel anything at all. All normal." Personal reference: mine totally felt like when your foot is numb and "wakes up." That was the tingling in my breast and it made me want to claw my skin off for a few seconds. You're welcome for that visual.
4. They Squirt Milk Out Of Several Holes
Turns out your nipples aren't just a fire hose waiting to release breast milk. IBCLC Rachel O'Brien tells Romper that your milk comes from more than one place. "Milk doesn't just squirt from one hole, like a bottle," she says. "It squirts from eight to 15 plus different places at once on each nipple." So if you ever pump and notice that your milk seems to be hitting every side of your flange like a sprinkler, just remember that it's OK and that your breast isn't actually a colander.
5. They Can Make Uneven Amounts Of Milk
There are a lot of women who panic when one breast makes more milk than the other breast. Does it mean they have low supply or that their baby prefers one over the other? Not necessarily. According to O'Brien, it's pretty normal. "Most women make more milk from one breast than the other and seven out of 20 times, it's the right breast that makes more," she says. And shocker? It's not related to your dominant hand. Keep it in mind when you notice that you get a lot more milk during a pumping session from your right breast than your left.
6. They Become Lopsided
If one breast is capable of making more milk than the other, then it stands to reason that one breast could also be larger than the other. According to IBCLC Alyse Lange, size differences between your breasts are common when you're a nursing mom, even if it feels a little lopsided. It doesn't always mean one breast makes more milk than the other either; sometimes, your body just isn't symmetrical.
7. They Make It Easier For Your Baby To Find Them
Ever wonder how your baby knows to root for your breasts when they are close to your chest and latch on? Turns out, your breasts go through some changes to make that happen. IBCLC Leah Segura tells Romper that your areola secretes a substance that has a similar smell and taste to amniotic fluid, so the baby can more easily find the nipple after birth. Mind blown.
8. They Won't Store The Same Amount As Your Friend
It's frustrating to hear that your BFF can pump 11 ounces in a day when you can only manage three ounces, but don't fret. It doesn't mean anything. IBCLC Carrie DiStefano tells Romper that there are different storage capacities and they are very individual. "Some women can hold four ounces in their breasts, some can hold 10 ounces," she says. I know it's difficult not to play the comparison game, but try to refrain. Your breasts are fine.
9. None Of These Things
And finally, one thing your boobs will do when breastfeeding that will freak you out? None of these things. Seriously, if you're not leaking, if your breasts aren't tingly, if you aren't experiencing one breast making more milk than the other — you're OK. You may only endure a few of these things or none at all; as long as your baby is eating and gaining well, everything's fine. Your breasts don't have to freak you out to have a successful nursing journey.