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What Does Breastfeeding Feel Like?

whatbreastfeedinglike.jpgAs the birth of my first baby approached I knew two things for sure:

1. I fully intended on breastfeeding my baby right from the get-go.

2. I was a little weirded out by the thought of feeding a baby from my breast.

I wasn’t apprehensive about the process or anything because I know that breastmilk is best, so of course it was what I was going to do. I’ll admit, though, that if you have never nursed a baby it can sure seem like a foreign concept. My breasts had never really been functioning entities on my body. I’d do my monthly breast exams and I knew my bra size, but other than that I never really paid them much attention. The thought of my breasts being the sole nourishment for my baby was thrilling and bizarre, all at the same time. Funny how something so natural could seem so odd. I was a little worried that nursing would just seem so weird that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

So here is what happened. My beautiful daughter was born, and after they weighed her and cleaned her up they propped her onto my chest and everyone looked at me with great anticipation. I went right to work doing everything I had seen on the preparatory videos I had watched. I cradled her just so, tickled her lip, and popped my nipple into her mouth. I may not have really known what I was doing, but my daughter sure did. She got right to work.

What does breastfeeding feel like? At first it’s just a weird sort of tugging. There was a really special feeling of nourishing my baby, and it was that feeling that got me through when we went home and things got a little tougher. Just in case nobody has let you in on this little gem yet, let me be the first: In the beginning, you may experience contractions while you nurse because your uterus is shrinking back down to size. I know what you’re thinking…”Tugging at my breasts AND contractions at the same time? Woo-hoo! Where do I sign?!”

One thing I wish somebody would have warned me about was engorgement…when my milk came in my breasts swelled to the size of huge melons, and that made it harder for my daughter to nurse. I was in pain, she couldn’t latch on, and the two of us became a crying, frantic pair as we tried to figure it all out. Engorgement doesn’t last too long, but if I had to describe what that felt like I would say it was an intense urge to get the milk out at all costs because I really felt as though my breasts would explode. After it passed, I dealt with sore nipples for a while but it did pass. Yes, it hurts to breastfeed with sore nipples, but that passes too.

It wasn’t long before nursing became as natural as breathing. I would nurse my daughter while I was eating, carrying on a conversation, and even while sitting in church. It didn’t feel weird to do anymore, and it certainly was empowering to know that my baby relied on me for nourishment. If you’re on the fence as to whether or not to nurse because you think it may be a little weird, I’d like to suggest that you at least give it a try. You’ll be amazed at what your body can do.

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