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Reality Check #1: The First Weeks of Breastfeeding May Hurt

“I tried to breastfeed but my nipples got so sore and cracked that I had to stop.”

I’ve heard so many mamas say something along these lines as the reason they quit breastfeeding. They see these images of happily nursing women, figure breastfeeding is supposed to be a 100 percent positive experience, and then are disappointed when it’s not only unpleasant in the early days-it’s downright painful. Moms probably wonder what they’re doing wrong and some may even think they can’t breastfeed. So they switch to formula.

Maybe they just needed a reality check. While it’s not normal for breastfeeding to hurt, it’s not uncommon, especially in the early days. We’re all told that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt but no one says it often does. While it’s true that a proper latch doesn’t hurt, it often takes time to get a good latch. In the meantime, there can be pain. And some blood.

Breastfeeding is a learning process for both baby and mom. Babies need to learn how to properly latch on to get the most milk in the shortest amount of time. Once they figure out a correct latch, the clouds will lift, your bleeding will stop, your cracks will heal, and the pain will go away.

Always have your baby’s latch checked by a lactation consultant.

Reality Check #2: Life with a Newborn is a Life Spent Nursing

Newborns must nurse often (and all the time) to build up mom’s milk supply. Couple this with the fact that newborns have small tummies that quickly digest breastmilk and you have one hungry baby.

A newborn baby may seem like a total leach-a cute, cuddly leach, but a leach nonetheless. Don’t assume your baby isn’t getting enough milk because she constantly wants to nurse. This is just the way the early weeks are. Your best bet is to plan accordingly.

Pick out a nice comfy chair and set up station. Give yourself a footrest to ease any back pains and keep pillows handy to prop your arms on. (Nursing pillows are especially helpful.) Keep a large glass of water nearby along with a stack of books, a telephone, the TV remote control, your laptop, and anything else you need to pass the time.

Instead of wishing you could do other things than sit and nurse, lay back and enjoy it. Now is your time to relax. This won’t last long at all. Pretty soon you’ll be running around the house chasing a toddler, wishing you could sit all day (or at least for five minutes!) and read a good book.

Reality Check #3: The Smell of Dirty Diapers Won’t Make You Cringe

You won’t have to hold your nose during diaper changes if your baby is exclusively breastfed. (The introduction of solid foods greatly changes this scenario. Consider yourself warned!)

The dirty diaper smell may not be unpleasant at all. Many moms say their exclusively breastfed baby’s poopy diapers smell like buttermilk. So if the smell of buttermilk makes you cringe, get a face mask ready.

I’ve even noticed some foods that reminded me of my son’s dirty diapers. Needless to say, even though the smell didn’t gross me out, the association made me lose my appetite for that particular item.

Not only will the diapers smell better, the spit up of an exclusively breastfed baby won’t stink or stain your clothes. Consider this nature’s gift to you. You’ve worked hard to give your baby the best food in life. When you’re covered in spit-up or hands deep in poopy diapers, at least know that Mother Nature saved you from the stink. The perks of breastfeeding keep getting better and better…

For more breastfeeding advice from moms who have “been there, done that”, visit – because motherhood is too short to wear an ugly nursing bra!