9 Things Your Breastfeeding Body Will Do That May Freak You Out
You probably know the benefits of breastfeeding, but let's be honest, breastfeeding also has some super weird moments. The things your breastfeeding body will do that may freak you out are not exactly the things listed in your baby book. Trust me, I was taking a shower with my 4-day-old baby in my mother's arms when she started crying. Immediately, my breasts began leaking. What kind of Twilight Zone episode is that?
The baby books prepare you for latching your baby, finding a comfortable and efficient nursing position, dealing with low milk supply or exhaustion and more. But rarely do the books tell you what I'm going to say — breastfeeding can make you feel like you're in a 1950s sci-fi movie. It's very Invasion of the Body-Snatchers around here and the body-snatcher is breastfeeding. You probably knew that there were going to be some changes and some differences in your body once you started breastfeeding, but there are nine things your breastfeeding body will do that may seriously freak you out. They're normal, though. Totally normal. And keeping that in mind will make you feel less panicky. (It will still totally make you feel like some kind of science project and make you appreciate the wonderland that is your body all at the same time. Breastfeeding is weird.)
1. Your Breasts Will Leak In Response To Your Baby
How do your boobs know that's your baby? Science, y'all. According to Kelly Mom, some breastfeeding moms use the sight, smell, and sound of their baby to encourage their milk to let-down. This is especially helpful for pumping moms who need to produce milk on a schedule, but it's still a little bizarre when you hear your baby cry from across the house or see their picture in your phone at the grocery store and suddenly have two wet spots on your shirt. (The lesson here is to always wear breast pads.)
2. Your Breasts Can Turn Into Huge Boulders
OK, so not literal boulders. But close. Your breasts can become engorged when your milk first comes in, if your baby starts sleeping through the night, if they miss a feeding, or if you have an overproduction of milk. It can be super uncomfortable and your breasts can become shiny as the skin stretches. You may have to hand express for comfort, according to Kelly Mom, but expressing too much can make your breasts produce even more milk. It's strange to see giant boulders under your bra, but it happens. (Try not to touch them too much.)
3. Your Abdomen May Cramp When You Nurse
A cramping abdomen is no one's idea of a good time and, after having a baby, it can freak you out a little bit. This often happens within the first few days of giving birth, but there's a simple reason for it — as your baby nurses, your body releases oxytocin and this hormone can cause your uterus to contract so it can return to its normal size, according to Medela. That contracting can feel like cramps, so try not to freak out too much.
4. Your Breasts May Spray Milk During Sex
Yeah, this one's freaky. If you're in the throes of an orgasm, the last thing you expect is for your breasts to turn into geysers and fill your sheets with breast milk. But that's what can happen when your body is a breastfeeding body. (OK, so you probably won't fill your sheets with breast milk, but what an image, right?) Oxytocin, the hormone released during an orgasm, is also the same hormone responsible for your let-down reflex, which is why when you cum, you may also leak some breast milk. Not a huge deal and your SO should be more than understanding about it, but it can definitely weird you out.
5. You Go On A Sex Strike
Were you incredibly horny during pregnancy? Did you have a healthy sex drive before you gave birth? Were you more into sex than you are right now? I get it, exhaustion can cause you to lose some of your sex drive, but so can breastfeeding, and if you're not used to it, it feels weird AF. Breastfeeding causes some hormonal changes, including a decrease in estrogen which can lower your libido and lead to vaginal dryness, according to Parents, making sex one of the last things on your mind. It won't last forever and it doesn't affect everyone, but breastfeeding can also leave you feeling touched out and not interested in getting it on with anything but your pillow.
6. You Go Without A Period For A While
Hey, this one's fun, right? Except for when you freak out every week that you're pregnant. (Dear God, no.) According to La Leche League International (LLLI), almost all mothers who breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their baby's life remain period-free for those six months. In fact, breastfeeding can be used as a natural birth control when done correctly (no food other than breast milk for baby during the first six months, frequent breastfeeding day and night, no bottles or pacifiers, comfort baby at breast, and co-sleep). So freaky.
7. Your Boobs Become Lopsided
My boobs are already slightly different sizes, so when I was breastfeeding my daughter, I was more than annoyed that they were even more lopsided than usual. If your baby only nurses on one side during a session, you may find that you look heavier on one side thanks to one breast still full of milk and the other slightly deflated as your baby finishes their meal, according to Kelly Mom. It's not a big deal, but it can be super weird to try and find a top that doesn't show off the balancing act you're trying to do.
8. Your Body Is Exhausted
OK, so you may think it's normal to pass out when you're nursing because you're also exhausted AF. But it's freaky when you realize breastfeeding plays a huge part in that, too. If you find yourself getting very sleepy during a nursing session, don't panic — it's normal. The hormone responsible for signaling your body to produce milk, prolactin, can also cause drowsiness, which is why you might find yourself drifting off to sleep while you're nursing your little one. If this happens to you often, make sure you're in a safe place, like a breastsleeping position, so you don't drop your baby or fall asleep on top of them.
9. You Calm Down More Easily
Getting all stressed out? Panicking about something? Agitated beyond belief at the fact that there's no ice cream in the freezer and Donald Trump is president? Nurse your baby. It's weird, but breastfeeding can calm you down. According to LLLI, that hormone prolactin can actually produce a "special calmness" and make you have a less intense response to adrenaline. Ah, who would have thought nursing your baby could be the best way to calm yourself down?