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10 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

Photograph by Amy Wruble

Before having a baby, the only thing I knew about breastfeeding was that your boobs get ginormous. As a former member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, I was looking forward to that — and my D-cup milk jugs did not disappoint. The rest, however, came as a complete shock.

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1. It Hurts. At least, it did for me, for the first three weeks. The moments after latching were excruciating, like razor blades to the nipple, so much so that I couldn't think or speak until the pain subsided. Miraculously, my nips eventually toughened up and breastfeeding became a surprisingly pleasant experience.

2. You Become a Fembot. Until my supply leveled out, I could shoot a stream of milk across the room, very much like the Fembots in Austin Powers ... except with more nutritious ammo.

3. Surprise, It's Your Let-Down Reflex! The feeling of the milk letting down reminded me of that uncomfortable tingling sensation you get when your foot's asleep, only you can't hop up and down on your breast to make it go away.

4. "On Demand" Is No Joke. Babies eat every three hours, except when they eat every 45 minutes, which was my experience during the newborn days. During one night of intense cluster feeding, my husband had to shove pieces of pizza in my mouth so I wouldn't starve. It soon became obvious that if I "scheduled" my life around nursing, I would never leave the house, so I learned to do it standing up — in the middle of Toys 'R Us.

5. Boobs Make Great Pacifiers. It took me a while to catch on to this, but sometimes my baby would suck even when she clearly wasn't hungry. My attempts to substitute with a binkie were met with disdain — why take a Nuk when you can have a nipple?

6. Naked Feels Natural. I don't know what's in those hormones, but breastfeeding turned me into a massive exhibitionist. In public I covered up a little. At home, I pretty much went topless for the first six months, and whoever stopped by (oh hello, UPS!) got a peep show.

7. Dad Gets Boob-Blocked. When fooling around with my husband, second base was off the table completely. I just didn't feel like sharing. They should really make a negligee with yellow caution tape across the top for nursing moms.

8. Some Babies Never Take a Bottle. We tried to introduce bottles of pumped breast milk so that my husband could also feed our daughter. We failed. It was challenging being tethered to my baby 24/7, but at least I would never run out of milk or feeding supplies.

9. It's Soothing for Mom Too. Once I got over the initial hurdles, I grew to love breastfeeding. I treasured those calm, quiet moments in the dark where I could just bond with my baby and know that there was no place more important in the world. Very Zen.

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10. Weaning Can Break Your Heart. When I weaned at 15 months, my daughter (who hated bottles but loved straw cups) handled it like a champ. Meanwhile, I cried my eyes out, mourning the end of the baby phase. I made sure not just to replace breast milk with the supermarket kind but also to replace our nursing sessions with a lot of snuggle time. Here's hoping she still lets me snuggle her when she's in college.

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