I went to a friend’s birthday party Saturday night. All the girls in that group of friends don’t have children yet. We got to talking about breastfeeding since everyone was drinking except me, and the topic of “milk let down” came up. These are all married or engaged women in their thirties, but no one knew what that was. That got me to thinking about how I didn’t know what it was before having kids either! In fact I barely knew anything about breastfeeding because I’d never really thought about it until I got pregnant. So I thought I’d write a post about all the wonderful, cool, crazy things I’ve learned about breastfeeding since becoming a mom.

– During pregnancy and after giving birth, you produce colostrum – a thick, yellow, nutrient-dense milk that is a precursor to regular breast milk. Though you may only produce drops, this is all the nutrition that a healthy, full-term baby usually needs in their first couple days of life.
– Although colostrum may be enough for many babies, many moms also find that they need to supplement with formula before their milk comes in.
– A couple of days after giving birth, your milk comes in, whether you had a vaginal birth or a c-section. It’s pretty crazy if you think about it! Murphy Brown said, “It’s like one day discovering you can get bacon out of your elbow.”
– Breastfeeding or pumping releases oxytocin and causes your uterus to contract and shrink after giving birth.
– Breastmilk can be yellow, or even have a blue or green tint (mine is blue).
– Breastfeeding can be very difficult in the beginning for many moms and may not come naturally — something many new moms are not prepared for.
– Breastfeeding can be very painful when your baby doesn’t have a proper latch.
– Your baby should open his mouth wide to take in as much of the aereola as possible to ensure a proper latch.
– Breastmilk doesn’t just come out of one opening – it shoots out of 10-20 openings!
– Newborns nurse 8-12 times a day on average..
– Breastmilk operates on supply and demand. The more often your breasts are empty, the more milk you produce.
– Your baby can smell your breastmilk.
– Breastmilk completely digests in 2 hours. Formula takes longer to digest so formula fed babies may be able to go longer between feedings.
– Engorgement is when your breasts are full of milk, causing them to feel full and sometimes painful.
– Applying cabbage leaves relieves engorgement.
– Breastmilk provides antiobiotic properties for your newborn.
– Breastmilk tastes sweet (yes I’ve tasted it).

– Breastmilk has healing properties. You can use it to heal cracked nipples as well as many other things!
– There are other breastfeeding positions than the traditional cradle hold we’re all familiar with. In the beginning, I found the football hold easier to achieve a good latch.
– Nipple shields can help you breastfeed if you have sore, flat, or inverted nipples.
– Frenulectomies (a somewhat controversial procedure) can help babies with tongue ties breastfeed better.
– Breastmilk at the beginning of a breastfeeding session (foremilk) becomes fattier towards the end (hindmilk). This enables babies to self regulate their intake.
– If your baby gets too much high lactose foremilk and not enough hindmilk, it may cause gas, fussiness, and liquidy stools.
– Breastmilk can be stored at room temp (66-78 degrees) for 4-10 hours.
– Offer only one breast at a feeding, or make sure your breast is completely drained before offering the other one so that your baby gets enough hindmilk.
– Breastmilk changes as the day goes on so even though you’re producing less milk, your milk is more nutrient dense.
– Breastmilk changes as your baby gets older, so they don’t need to increase their intake as they get older. Your milk when your baby is 1 month old is different than when your baby is 6 months old.
– When your baby is drinking milk effectively, you can hear them make gulping noises.
– When you “let down” (your milk ejection reflex), your boobs feel tingly and it kinda hurts.
– Both breasts let down when you’re feeding on one side.
– You have multiple let downs when you’re nursing and pumping.
– You have random let downs throughout the day. They can be triggered by looking at a picture of your baby, hearing a baby cry, or for no reason at all!
– You can breastfeed an adopted baby!
– How much you can pump is not indicative of how much milk you’re producing. Your baby is much more effective at removing milk than a pump.
– If you have supply issues or want to produce more milk when you pump, there are many things you can do like pump more often, take More Milk Plus/Fenugreek supplements, or drink Mother’s Milk Tea.
– Getting your period can cause a decrease in milk supply.
– Hormonal birth control can decrease your milk supply.
– Breast size has nothing to do with the amount of milk you can produce. My petite chested friend was a milk factory.
– Bottles shouldn’t be introduced before the first couple weeks of life until breastfeeding patterns are well established so as not to cause nipple confusion. (Olive had many bottles from her first week of life on and has had no problems switching from breast to bottle, but that may not be the case with every baby).
– If you introduce a bottle too late, baby will often reject it and only want to nurse.
– There are many problems women can face while breastfeeding including milk blisters, clogged ducts, mastitis, abcesses, thrush, and staph infections.
– You can take lecithin supplements if you have problems with recurring clogged ducts.
– If you have problems with breastfeeding, you should call a lactation consultant asap. Seriously!
– Breastmilk is very fatty and separates in the fridge. Swirl to mix it. Don’t shake it as that destroys some of breastmilk’s properties.
– Do not microwave breastmilk as it can cause hot spots in the milk.
– Some women have excess lipase in their milk which causes it to taste funny after its been frozen. This can be avoided by heating the milk to scalding (not boiling) before freezing it.
– You can eat anything while you’re breastfeeding unless there is a family history of extreme allergies to a certain food.
– Breastfeeding may reduce your chances of osteoporosis and breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
– Breastfeeding may increase your child’s IQ, and lower their chance of childhood obesity, ear infections, allergies and asthma.

What crazy, cool, interesting things about breastfeeding have you learned?