It's no secret that your body changes post-baby. And if you're breastfeeding, you may be more concerned about how those boobs of yours are going to handle all of the changes. It's honestly too overwhelming to worry about how your boobs will be affected by breastfeeding in the long run, but knowing how breastfeeding affects your boobs when you first start nursing can make all the difference in your fears and concerns. After all, the unknown of breastfeeding is the scariest part, right?
OK, so maybe the big gummy mouth of your baby combined with your tender nipples is the scariest part. And that's one of the ways breastfeeding affects your boobs when you first start nursing — you can experience some pain. The Office on Women's Health noted that when you're just starting to breastfeed, your nipples may be more sensitive. Your baby latching on can feel like a pinch that goes away once your baby starts nursing, and you may feel some general discomfort.
But International Board Certified Lactation Consultnat Leigh Anne O'Connor tells Romper that breastfeeding does not cause cracked nipples; those are usually the cause of a poor latch or improper pump use. But she does note that you may also feel some tenderness with your milk letdown and even a prickly feeling. "The breasts often have more visible veins, which is normal, too," O'Connor says. And if you're feeling full? There can be a few reasons why.
"Engorgement can be caused by holding extra IV fluids from medication during birth, like an epidural or medications during a C-section," O'Connor says. "But, engorgement can also be caused by not nursing, a poor latch which leads to poor removal of milk, or a poorly performing pump." She also says that it's normal to feel fullness all the way up into your arm pits as your milk comes in because that is where the mammary tissue extends.
Breastfeeding can also cause your breasts to become geysers at the most inopportune times. According to Parents, your breasts can leak when you're least expecting it, but they can also start leaking if you talk about your baby, see your baby, or even hear their cry (or another baby's cry). Those hormones that produce your milk can go into overdrive at those moments, leading to wet spots on your shirt. O'Connor notes that not everyone has this happen, but some moms may experience leaking from their nipples, which is totally fine. (But may feel super weird.)
Finally, if your baby isn't emptying your breast completely, you might feel some hard knots in your breasts. According to Parents, these are blocked milk ducts and are common during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. With frequent milk removal and massaging, you should be able to get past them.
It sounds like a lot, but trust me — there will be so much going on, you'll just roll with these changes. And don't panic about the future of your boobs. "It is important to know that breastfeeding does not cause sagging — aging and gravity cause breast sagging," O'Connor says. So just go with the flow (literally) for now.
If anything seems wrong or some of these changes continue even after breastfeeding has been well established, it might help to reach out to an IBCLC to find out what you can do. Pain isn't normal once breastfeeding is going well and neither is engorgement, so don't be afraid to ask for help. Your breasts went through enough changes in pregnancy, there's no reason to be scared of the milk machines they've become now that you've given birth. You're like a fembot — but way more efficient. (And helpful.)