What They Don’t Teach You in Breastfeeding Class

breastfeeding class

Newly graduated from nursing school and fresh off an internship in OB as I approached my due date with my daughter, I was confident that I had this baby thing down.

I had even prepped myself a little extra by taking a breastfeeding class. I sat smugly in the room, hands clasped over my giant belly as I fielded questions myself about the labor and delivery floor.

Fast forward a few days after my daughter’s birth (which, by the way, was not exactly textbook. Smugness has a way of biting you in the back). Things had been going pretty well. She was eating well, pretty much sleeping after feedings at night, and seemed to be a pretty happy baby.

After feeding her and settling her in the bassinette for the night the next two hours, I tucked myself into bed and drifted off.

And was shocked when I woke up later in a giant puddle. My entire nightgown was soaked, the bed sheets dripping, and my husband sitting up in bed, looking at me with a horrified expression on his face.

What is going on? I thought. Am I sweating? Did I spill water? Omg, did I pee the bed?

Nope.

It was just my milk coming in.

Somehow I had missed that part of the breastfeeding class. You know, the part that would have warned me that I should have prepped for a major leaking battle when my milk came in. For the next few days, I struggled with painful, engorged breasts and felt like a freak for leaking through every shirt I owned. I didn’t know how to regulate my milk supply and tried pumping for relief—only to end up with a raging case of mastitis.

Breastfeeding has a way of surprising even the most prepared of moms.

After successfully nursing her first two children, Andrea Marie thought she had the breastfeeding thing down pat. Until she found that nursing her third baby was “ten times more painful than giving birth.”

Jessica House found the “hormonal” side of breastfeeding to be the most surprising. Jessica says, “While I was nursing my daughter, I went through these happy/sad phases. I was a wreck hormonally until a few months after I finished nursing!”

For Nicole Brabant, the struggle to provide her son enough milk was daunting. “I just assumed that my milk would be enough for him, nutritionally speaking,” says Nicole. “You always hear that ‘breast is best,’ but unfortunately, it wasn’t in our case.”

How about you – what surprised you the most about breastfeeding?

Photo credit: Chaunie Brusie/J & J Brusie Photography

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What They Don’t Teach You in Breastfeeding Class

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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15 comments

  1. Profile photo of Phammom Phammom says:

    Well this will be my first time, hope I can.

  2. Profile photo of april april says:

    I on the other hand had a hard time .My milk barely came .I did what i was told eat right plenty of fluids but still very little milk . I didn’t quit i kept at it for 3 months till i received my flu shot .I was told i couldn’t for 1 month so i quit . Found out from my doctor that is a lie . I only had to stop for 3 maybe 4 days and i could have just pumped and thrown out .I was very upset . But my doctor said it would be ok because wether 1 week or 3 months or 1 year my son received the nutrients he needed .So i was ok.

  3. Profile photo of Jacquelyn Jacquelyn says:

    This is info I would have LOVED to know before I had my daughter. I was dead set on breastfeeding anyway, so this would not have deterred me, I would have just been more prepared. My milk didnt come in till a few days after delivery, totally normal, I expected it would take a few days. And at first everything was fine. But then suddenly my supply ramped up and just WOULD NOT slow down. My milk would let down VERY unexpectedly and VERY fast. I had breast pads but I soaked through in a matter of moments. I honestly spent the first 2 months in a sports bra padded with dish towels and I slept on an absorbent pad layered with towels at night for months because my breasts leaked constantly. I still would have breastfed knowing this beforehand… but like I said, it would have been nice to know because it was a total shock and I was SO unprepared to handle it.

  4. Profile photo of nydia rivera nydia rivera says:

    Oh and then having my second baby 8 years later and thinking I was a champ because I EBF my dd for 2 1/2 years.. Oh boy was this one a surprise!!! With DD I was overflowing she was always choking the first minute, I had to remember to express some milk into an extra breast pad or else the port kid was going to choke, I would have milk running down my chest and whatever I was wearing would probably get stained and sticky. With DS…. Whole new game. Milk didn’t come in until 3 days later he lost a lb waiting for the milk to come in, and it hurt so much with cracked and bleeding nipple because he was tongue tied and he didn’t want to latch properly no tater what. Oh and the gas this caused and the vomiting and him having a milk protein allergy and my having to stop drinking milk and being able to only eat a s,all bit of cheese a day… But all that and I think I did what was best for me, those first few months were so full of frustration and tears and sadness and then the rainbow at the end. He’s going to be 2 in 2 weeks and I wouldn’t change my struggles,, except the gas part for him. Soy milk is awesome for mothers whose babies have a milk allergy. For all mothers who have issues, never feel at fault or that you are less if you just can’t. It’s the mothers choice if she just doesn’t choose BF either. I’ve heard some mean things from both sides breast feeding or not.

  5. Profile photo of nydia rivera nydia rivera says:

    Lol… Same problem here.. No one told me about the milk coming in like that. I slep on my tummy about 3 days after my first baby was born and work up cold and the same thought ran thru my head. Did I pee? I leaked all the way down to my lady parts.. And the baby too she was wet on her side. Then I thought did the baby pee so much it soaked us both lol. Until I noticed I was wet all over my chest and it didn’t smell like pee. We had to air out the brand new mattress in the sun and blow dry it.. It stained. Oh the memories of that stain

  6. Profile photo of Sara McTigue, CLCEditor Sara McTigue, CLC says:

    Hi Beth! As you can tell from the blog – and the other comments – breastfeeding can be a vastly different experience for different people. We do all we can here on EverydayFamily to support breastfeeding, but we also want to support those women who struggle or find it to be especially challenging. Sharing their stories can help those who feel very alone to know that they aren’t alone – and that there is help out there. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to respond!

  7. Profile photo of BethAustin BethAustin says:

    I’m actually so disgusted with this amateur article. How dare some woman behind a computer try and frighten expectant mothers and turn them away from breastfeeding. I think It’s more sad that she is ignorant to the 100% benefits that breastfeeding has on the baby with as much research and proof from the beginning of humanity, yet few years to fully understand the consequences of factory made powdered milk from a cow plus other ingredients. I’m not going to make this a lecture, because I’m sure those mothers who put their children first and may be expecting a baby will breastfeed anyway, or do some research and find the right conclusion that way. It’s absolutely ABSURD that anyone could say that breastfeeding is more painful than childbirth! (considering it be a natural birth) The first few days can be painful, yet this would indicate an incorrect latch and the need to start over. When the baby is latched on properly, breastfeeding is not painful. Motherhood is not going to be an easy ride, so quite frankly, get over it and put your kids first!!! I’m 19 by the way and very happy with the start in life I have given my daughter.

  8. Profile photo of monette3 monette3 says:

    Glad I read this so I know that this is a possibility. Wow having and caring for a human being is a lot of physical drama!

  9. Profile photo of monsue87 monsue87 says:

    My son had jaundice and we had to give formula to supplement to get his jaundice to go away. However, my pediatrician told me to breast feed and have my husband feed our son a bottle of formula while I went to pump. This increased my milk supply immensely. It wasn’t long before we stopped the formula and were only feeding breast milk. I also had a few nights where I woke up soaked. But after not having enough milk, I wasn’t about to complain.

  10. I had too much milk in the beginning and now at 6 months I am struggling at work to pump enough for the nights I’m not home! I work work three 12 hour overnight shifts a week as a nurse. Sometimes getting time to pump is tough!

  11. Profile photo of Alexus Alexus says:

    Unfortunately, I have never had the problem of "too much" milk. ): I always make just enough, despite my numerous attempts at increasing my supply. I guess however, in your case this was a curse as it caused the mastitis which I havent had to deal with to this point. I guess the grass is always greener!

  12. Profile photo of bsjl90 bsjl90 says:

    I was barely able to breastfeed and my (7 mo now) Son’s Pediatrician gave me no hope and kept pushing me to just give him formula when he was 2weeks old which ended my milk supply and made me incredibly upset and left feeling like a complete failure. I wasn’t producing enough and she made me feel like I was a terrible mother. He couldn’t latch on without using these nipple shields because I have what is called ‘flat nipples’ which means they don’t poke out far enough and since using the formula my milk supply was terrible he would bf for about an hour and still take a bottle. I would pump for an hour and only get 2oz and I was feeding him every two hours. It still makes me sad knowing that I couldn’t give him what my body was supposed to be made to do. Sorry for the rant haha

  13. Profile photo of Anna Anna says:

    I didn’t realize how much longer it would take for my milk supply to come in after a c-section. Then there were the blebs (milk blisters), I never had them before and this is my 4th child. Also had bleeding when pumping due to the baby teething and biting me. All experiences with my last child that I didn’t have with my other three. I thought that it would be easy to breastfeed this time, after all I had breastfed twins, one should be no problem, but found out that there is a difference from boys to a girl. The girl has given me more complications.

  14. Profile photo of Sarah Sarah says:

    I was most surprised that I didnt make a bunch of milk like I hear so many other moms talk about. I have very rarely felt it let down. I thought it would be like your experience where it gets everywhere but I make ‘just enough’ and I hate that. I share custody of my daughter so Id love to be able to pump enough for her to be EBF but I def cant do that. Im so jealous of the moms that over produce, Id welcome the letdown pain just to be able to have more milk.

  15. Profile photo of mamaduke mamaduke says:

    The biggest surprise for me was not handling my let down well at all. In the first 6 weeks, I was already a mess with hormonal imbalances but then whenever my milk would let down, I would have such negative and awful thoughts. Little did I know about D-MER, but this article helped: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mother/d-mer/ I no longer have this issue as I’ve figured out how to get it under control and am happily breastfeeding at 9 months in.

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