I’ve been breastfeeding now since June of 2013. I took a brief hiatus from Oct 2015-April of 2016 while I was growing our second little human, but the moment she popped out we resumed breastfeeding like no time had passed.
I was fortunate to be able to nurse our son until he was over 2 years old. At this point in time, I feel pretty confident I will be able to do the same for our daughter as she is showing no signs of stopping. To be honest, I kinda wish she’d let up on some of the nighttime nursing, but this too shall pass.
For me, and I know for many mothers, breastfeeding has been a bond like non other and I’m grateful every single day that I was able to experience it with our babies.
I know that you all have heard me shout this sentiment from the mountain tops, but what I really want to talk to you about is the changes that happen to your breasts. It’s not exactly a taboo subject, but much like no one ever talking about what happens after you birth a baby (hello, giant pads, ice packs, & peri bottles), the changes your breasts go through tend to get glossed over or left out save for those tasteless jokes about saggy breasts when you’re all done.
So, let’s get real for a bit. Here’s some of the changes I’ve personally experienced since becoming a mama.
Probably the very worst change I’ve experienced. Luckily those days are a distant memory, but the first few weeks after becoming a mom and your milk comes in, they are brutal. The first time around, I was unprepared and was dealing with a nasty double ear infection to boot. I ended up in an ER for the infection without our new baby and my milk was coming in like crazy. I basically just remember pain. So much pain. My breasts were twice their normal size and hard as rocks. I wasn’t experienced enough to hand express and I was just miserable. I definitely didn’t feel prepared for this change, but thank goodness it passed quickly.
The second time I stared this beginning of breastfeeding moment in the face, I was armed with small square rice packs that I could pop in the microwave. I basically wore them in my bra the entire first week of baby girl being home. They offered tremendous relief and I highly recommend them. What I didn’t plan for was once again another change — mastitis. I never experienced mastitis with our son and I couldn’t believe how fast and how hard it hit. I was basically perfectly fine and then I was feverish, chilled to the bone, & achy. If not for our daughter breastfeeding like a champ, I probably would’ve needed antibiotics, but one full day of bed-rest and breastfeeding had us back to normal almost as quickly as it had began.
Besides rice packs for relief, I recommend nursing tank tops instead of bras in those early days. Seriously you don’t want to put a bra on until you have to. Nursing tanks let you keep breast pads in place — yes, you need them or you will soak through shirts — without having your breasts feel squished into a bra. Sometimes at night I even just threw on an over sized t-shirt and slept on top of a towel because my boobs needed freedom.
The next common change is your baby preferring to nurse on one side more than the other leading you to have one giant breast and one deflated one. You can almost hide this by wearing a bra and shirt, but if the change is drastic enough, it’ll be pretty noticeable. The longer you breastfeed and the more your milk supply regulates, the less this will happen. Just hang in there, mama!
Sometimes, despite your best intentions, you’ll leave the house dressed to prevent leaks, and they’ll happen anyway. You’ll soak right through your breast pad, bra, shirt, & sweater. It just happens. So, either just say to heck with it all and don’t let it bother you or keep an extra shirt in your diaper bag. This too shall pass.
By far the most entertaining form of milk leaking is when your rascally baby initiates a letdown and then conveniently pulls off the nipple. This leaves you spraying breast-milk all over anything nearby. To be honest, sometimes it is amazing how far breast-milk can go! Luckily, just like uneven sides, this will also happen less and less.
Finding a Bra
Oooh, this is a tough one. I have tried so many bras since becoming a mom and not a one has been perfect. I definitely have never found the fit that I enjoyed before kids. You know when you find a bra that doesn’t pinch or chaff, that supports, lifts, and is pretty, too? Yeah, that nursing bra doesn’t really exist. I have come pretty darn close though.
So, here are my recommendations:
- For at home — Original Nursing Bra by Bravado
Why I love this bra is because of how easy it is to wear and use. I love that it’s a racer back because then you don’t have straps digging into your shoulders and it easily un-clips one-handed.
- For everyday use/errands/going out — Waffles 3D Bra by Cake Maternity
This one makes me feel sexy. Something about the polka dots and the lace makes it feel like more than just a nursing bra. It’s about as close as I get to pre-baby bras. It is comfortable, offers lift, & is low enough to wear a significant v-neck shirt without feeling like I’m a million years old. Seriously, some of those nursing bras come up so high it’s like you’re wearing a turtleneck. Yuck! Bonus: This bra has a hook & eye in the back allowing you to easily convert it to a racer back. Hello, summertime tank tops!
This last one is not a bra, but it’s awesome, so I’m including it anyway.
- Nursing pajamas — Super Mom, Super Tired Pajamas from You! Lingerie
I bought this set before baby girl was born and took them to the hospital with me when I went into labor. It was the best thing to wear postpartum. They are a bit of a splurge, but super comfy, cute, & fun. I considered them a gift to myself.
And, finally, a bra I’m interested in trying in the future is the ThirdLove Nursing Bra. You may have heard of this company because they have a find your true size quiz as well as an option for “trying before you buy” that pops up on my Facebook feed a lot. I had never been able to participate in this since I’ve been breastfeeding for the past four plus years, but they now have a nursing bra and I am definitely interested. It’s a front-opening racer back. Pretty darn cool.
So, tell me, what breast changes did you experience after becoming a mom? Were they any of the same ones I experienced? My guess is we go through a lot of the same things even though they are not often discussed.