You are in your last term of pregnancy. You are going to breastfeed your baby. You’ve heard all about the benefits of nursing, and you are ready to be Earth Mom Extraordinaire. And then you have the baby. I won’t go into labor details; someone else can give you the cold hard facts about that. I’m going to give the cold hard facts about breastfeeding. This article is not intended to discourage you. I just believe that if you get all the facts up front about breastfeeding problems, you will be better prepared and less likely to give up.

You May Not Have Milk Right Away

It can take up to a week for your milk to come in, especially if you have a C-section. In the meantime, you have this tiny little person sucking on nipples that have nothing or little to deliver, and it hurts. Oh, you have that colostrum stuff, but that doesn’t keep those brand new stomachs full. A lot of women have to supplement with formula for the first week. Don’t feel like a failure and don’t worry about nipple confusion. No one I have met who was committed to breastfeeding and had to supplement ever had an issue with nipple confusion. It may be a myth. Babies are pretty smart.

Maternity Ward Nurses are Breastfeeding Nazis

They will grab your breast against your will, push it and knead it and try to shove it in the baby’s mouth. Don’t let them do this to you. Tell them that it’s your body, your baby, and thanks but no thanks. It also seems that no matter how well you think you are doing, they will tell you that you are doing it wrong. Don’t listen to them! Cave women figured this out, you sure can.

Engorgement Hurts Like Heck

When that milk finally does come in, it hurts, man it hurts. The girls will be rock hard and full. So full that your nipples will flatten and your newborn can’t get a hold. You may have to express or pump some milk out just to nurse. You might also want to try a frozen cabbage leaf in each bra cup. It seems to bring a lot of comforts.

You Will Leak

Use nursing pads and don’t leave home without them. Nothing is worse than being at the grocery store and seeing a big round wet circle or two down front. You also have to be prepared for squirting. I can’t tell you how many times in the first few months I took out a boob and had a little milk fountain hit my hubby in the face (he did not enjoy this, but I always got a good laugh out of it)

Chapped Nipples are Not Sexy

And they sting! They have these great devices called nipple shields. Medela makes some good ones. Some breastfeeding organizations are against them; they say they can reduce your milk. They won’t. I used them for a month and was as milky as ever. Also, please don’t spend your hard earned cash (or your hubby’s) on fancy nipple cream. Chapstick worked better than anything for me, and it didn’t hurt my baby at all. I think she enjoyed the cherry flavor.

You Will Smell Like Sour Milk

Just a warning. It doesn’t matter how many times you shower; you will spend a good part of the day smelling a bit like spoiled milk. Your baby won’t mind, and the eeewwww factor acts as a good birth control device.

You Will Sleep Less than Mothers Using Formula

Breast milk is easier to digest so your beautiful little bundle will be screaming longer before her formula fed cousins. It’s a price we pay for giving our kids the best.

Breastfeeding Does Not Mean you Can Eat What You Want

There is a theory that breastfeeding mothers lose weight more quickly. Maybe they do if we ate normally, but breastfeeding is hard work and us nursing mothers need lots of nourishment. We are also up at all hours of the night, so there is a high tendency to indulge in extra snacks. So don’t count on nursing to be your weight loss program

So to all the expectant Earth Moms, I hope this blast of reality will be helpful. Nursing your child is one of the most natural, beautiful and rewarding things you will ever do. To have your body supply the nourishment to allow your baby to grow and flourish is one of the most amazing things you will ever experience. Don’t give up when the going gets tough. I wish you all well and trust me on the Chapstick