What Does Breastfeeding Feel Like? (And 8 other questions I wanted to ask before becoming a mama)

by Charise Rohm Nulsen


Welcome to the Breastfeeding Support Blog Party! Bloggers around the world have gathered together to share posts which provide current or soon-to-be breastfeeding mothers with a wealth of well-researched information, personal stories, and statistics designed to help you have the most successful breastfeeding experience possible. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more about this movement as well as to link to and read more informative breastfeeding support posts.

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What Does Breastfeeding Feel Like? (and 8 other questions I wanted to ask before becoming a mama)

Before I became a mama for the first time almost three years years ago, I made the decision that I wanted to breastfeed my children. I’ve always been a naturally minded person, and breastfeeding just seemed like one of those super natural motherhood choices that would be a fit for me. I read books about it and attended a breastfeeding class with my husband. I knew the statistics and research about breastfeeding, but what I really feel like I missed out on was asking a close friend the questions that I really wondered about – and getting the anecdotal information that I craved rather than the scientific or prepackaged answers that seemed to be readily available to me.

Here are the questions that I secretly wanted to ask before I entered motherhood – and my personal answers based on 19 months of breastfeeding my son and 9 months of breastfeeding my baby girl so far. I’m sure different mamas would have different answers to these questions, but here is my personal experience:

1. What does breastfeeding feel like?
To me, it feels like a very, very gentle tugging sensation. It practically feels like nothing at all. It was a different story during the first couple of weeks of nursing. If the baby’s latch isn’t correct – which it may not be as you learn to breastfeed – it can definitely make you feel sore, and even if the latch is correct, you will most likely experience some soreness during the first couple of weeks. After that just like anything you do where your body is experiencing a new action over and over again, your body gets used to it and it feels extremely normal.

2. Do you really think breastfeeding helps children’s immunity? How do you know?
Yes, I REALLY believe this. I know there are other factors involved like eating healthy and genetics, but (knock on wood), my children both seem to have very strong immune systems. You may wonder if this is because I am a stay at home mom and because my kids don’t have to be exposed to germs at daycare, but we are out and about and exposed to germs every single day. It is a rare day when my kids are not at a play space, play date, class or activity. My kids do get colds, but my son has only had a fever once and my daughter has never had a fever. They have never had an ear infection. My children have also never caught any illness that I have had thanks to the antibodies that are passed along through nursing.

3. Is breastfeeding exhausting?
Is having children exhausting? Yes. Is it because of breastfeeding? No. Nursing actually releases a hormone in your body that relaxes you, so every time you sit down to nurse your baby, you actually feel more relaxed and centered – or at least, I do.

Also, breastfeeding is extremely convenient. Packing food and making a bottle are two less things you have to worry about. No matter where you are, you’re already prepared to feed your baby.

Here I am nursing my newborn in the Ergo carrier while climbing haystacks with my toddler.
Breastfeeding in the Ergo

4. How can you tell when your baby wants to nurse?
Every baby will show you in a different way, but it will be obvious. My daughter would stick her tongue out. My son would give a very specific cry: Neh! During the night, my newborn daughter would simply roll towards me and tap my shoulder. You can feel confident that your baby will have no problem communicating her needs.

5. Does your baby bite you during nursing when she has teeth?
Your baby will probably try a little bite while she is experiencing the novelty of teeth, but at least in the cases of my children, a quick squeeze of their nose in response to a little bite sends the message that biting is not okay. It did not happen more than once or twice to me with each child.

6. I am a vegetarian. Will my milk still be the perfect food for my baby?
Yes. Just make sure your diet consists of all of the things you would normally provide yourself with to maintain good health: healthy fats, protein, iron, etc. I take a prenatal vitamin for the duration of my breastfeeding time (made from whole foods, not synthetic) also. I am a vegetarian, and my children are extremely healthy and have maintained healthy weight while being exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives and then nursed in conjunction with a healthy diet.

7. Does breastfeeding limit you in any way?
No. I feel like it enhances my relationships with my children and makes my life easier in general.

8. Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?
YES. My daughter’s conception is proof of that.

9. What is your most important advice for someone who would like to breastfeed her child?
Get tons and tons of help with breastfeeding from the moment your child is born, and don’t stop getting help until it seems easy to you. Yes, breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your child, but it is not a skill that comes naturally. I needed about 8 weeks of help at the start of my son’s life before it felt natural and easy.

Also, just because someone is a lactation consultant or doctor or midwife or nurse does not mean that he or she can offer you the best possible help. I spent five very long days seeing one medical professional after another trying to figure out how to feed my newborn boy before a midwife came along who happened to provide me with the right kind of help. I will forever be indebted to her because I was beginning to think no one could help me. The lesson here is that there is always someone out there who can help, but you have to be persistent and committed to giving breastfeeding your best possible shot. It does get easier; it does get better. Nursing my children has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.

Other breastfeeding posts:
10 Ways to Play With Your Toddler While Breastfeeding Your Baby
5 Unexpected Uses for Breast Milk
5 Reasons Breastfeeding is the Ultimate Convenience
What I Wish I Knew About Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
A Poem from the Middle of the Night with Baby
I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without… My Breasts

What questions do you have about breastfeeding? If you don’t have questions, what advice would you give a mama who wants to breastfeed?

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This gathering of breastfeeding support comes in response to the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) continued stance on breastfeeding, which we all have a great concern with. While the WAPF does support breastfeeding as the best option for feeding babies, it does so with a caveat. Breastfeeding mothers must follow the strict tenants of the WAPF diet and mothers who are not following their nutrient dense diet recommendations would be better off feeding their babies homemade formula (based on the WAPF recipe). In addition, they are outspoken against using donor milk.

The bloggers sharing posts today are concerned with the confusion this may cause breastfeeding mothers. Not only does research support the myriad of health benefits of breast milk for babies regardless of the mother’s diet, it also outlines additional benefits of breastfeeding such as better bonding, deeper trust, and a long list of other emotional benefits. Let’s not forget the health benefits for moms!

We will have a complete list of all the blog posts published today (as part of this Blog Party) in a separate post on Sunday, March 31st. We welcome you to join this blog party by linking up your own new and previously published posts which focus on any positive aspect of breastfeeding and breast milk. Please enter using the Linky Tool which can be found at Hybrid Rasta Mama, Cooking Traditional Foods, Whole New Mom, Alternative Parenting, or African Babies Don’t Cry. (All links will be subject to moderation.) Any link not following the spirit of the Blog Party will be removed.

This post is linked up at Friday Flash Blog Hop, World Breastfeeding Week Blog Carnival – Community and Online Support.

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