Pregnancy brings some amazing, albeit super crazy, changes to your body. But if you thought the craziness would be over after delivery, think again. The postpartum months bring a multitude of changes to your body too, especially if you're breastfeeding.
When I was expecting my first child, I began researching all of the things that happen to your body when you breastfeed. And, to be honest, I was a little freaked out. My boobs would actually spray milk? What kind of sorcery is that? And what about my appearance. Would I feel like a supermodel or a cow? Would I finally have the boobs of my dreams?
Yes and no. Though I definitely went up a few cup sizes, and never complained about it once, I wasn't prepared for the other changes that accompanied my larger bosoms. Because your boobs aren’t the only thing that change during breastfeeding. Everything from the chemicals in your new-mom brain, to your pants size can see some kind of difference. And while it's truly a beautiful and exciting transition, it can be a lot to handle. Knowing what changes to expect during the breastfeeding phase may help lessen the shock of rediscovering your postpartum body.
1. You Will Want To Eat ALL Of The Food
The Mayo Clinic estimates that breastfeeding burns 300 to 500 calories a day. So, you're naturally going to be extra hungry. Experts recommend eating around the same amount of extra calories, to not only keep your energy levels up, but to make sure you're eating healthy things for you and your baby.
2. Your Boobs Will Leak
But it won't be a Supersoaker affect. Parents notes that the let down reflex can be triggered when you hear babies crying, or even when you think about your baby. During let down, usually stimulated by your baby's sucking, oxytocin is released in your brain, which causes the milk to be released. This reflex is sometimes hard to control as your body adjusts to your supply, but will eventually slow down.
3. Your Nipples Might Revolt
This whole nursing thing is new for your nips too, so its normal for them to get sore or chapped. The La Leche League notes that the most frequent cause of nipple soreness are incorrect positioning at the breast, which can be easily fixed. Nipple soreness should not last long, so if it does, be sure to ask your healthcare provider.
4. You Might Lose Weight Quicker
With all the extra calories you're burning by nursing, it makes sense that you'd lose weight. That being said, it's not a guarantee. Other factors contribute to postpartum weight loss and weight gain, so don't stress if you're not shedding pounds. And definitely don't starve yourself to make it happen, because you and your baby need the nutrients.
5. Your Stomach Might Cramp
Though they don't last long, you will experience some painful cramping after delivery. Known as afterpains, these cramps are simply helping your uterus return to it's pre-pregnancy size (called involution). The Bump notes that nursing can trigger cramps, because of the hormones it releases. Take heart though, it usually only lasts a few weeks and it's no where near as bad as labor.
6. Your Boobs Will Be Huge
Or at least, bigger than normal. As mentioned above, you may grow a cup size or two to make room for all that milk. I've never complained, and I'm sure you won't either.
7. Your Hormones Might Go Crazy
Breastfeeding produces two hormones- oxytocin and prolactin. Though these are crucial to creating milk, they also may keep your period away for longer and cause a decrease in libido.
8. You Will Become A Mama Bear
According to the Association for Psychological Science, women who breastfeed are far more likely to demonstrate a 'mama bear' effect than those who don't. Again, blame it on the hormones, but the study suggests that breastfeeding may provide women with a buffer against the many stressors new moms face, while at the same time giving mothers an extra boost of courage if they need to defend themselves or their child.
9. Your Body Creates Magic
Did you know that breast milk changes its components to fit your babies needs? Your body tailors the milk depending on the time of day and the age of your baby. Though scientists are still discovering all the components of human breast milk, it contains fats, proteins and vitamins enough to support your growing baby. Basically, you're a wizard.