Breastfeeding: the seemingly simple yet completely eye-opening experience most moms aren’t prepared for. After having breastfed all three of my kids, I learned a thing or two about nursing, pumping, the health benefits as well as complications that can arise.

12 breastfeeding secrets every mom should know

Here are 12 breastfeeding secrets every mom should know:

#1: Breast milk has tons of health benefits for the baby
This was my number one reason I wanted to breastfeed my kids. With so much disease-fighting antioxidants and nutrients, breast milk has been cited by experts as the best option to keep babies from illnesses.And since breast milk changes depending on what a mother eats, babies are also able to taste different flavors.

#2: Breastfeeding comes with its own slew of complications
Four months into breastfeeding, I was hit with thrush, a yeast infection on the breast. Thankfully the babies didn’t catch it, but anyone who has had thrush can attest that its pain is similar to contractions! You might also deal with plugged ducts, mastitis, engorgement, and all the other fun friends that make it so difficult to continue breastfeeding.

#3: You’re likely to lose weight much faster with breastfeeding
Breastfeeding moms usually expend an extra 500 calories a day due to milk production. With twins, I was losing 1,000 extra calories a day when I was exclusively breastfeeding. Talk about a major plus when trying to shed the baby weight!

#4: You’ll be wearing those darn nursing tops or bras nonstop
I cannot wait to toss my old nursing tops and bras once breastfeeding is over. Day and night, I’m wearing them or have them nearby to change into for nursing or pumping.

#5: Breastfeeding offers the convenience of ready-made food without preparing formula or washing bottles
Breastfeeding offers a simple and convenient way to feed the babies without the added chores of washing bottles or pump parts.

#6: You may feel tied to the baby
Going out and about can sometimes be difficult for a breastfeeding mother and can limit your outings. For instance, my husband is usually the parent who takes our older son to day-long outings because I need to feed the babies. Even if I’m not with the babies for the whole day (when they’re at they’re grandma’s, for instance, and drinking bottles over there), I still have to be home every three hours to pump lest I get engorged or diminish my supply.

#7: Breastfeeding saves you money
Even with a hospital-grade pump that’s costing me so much to rent, formula still comes out more expensive. If you forgo pumping completely, you’ve got free milk for your baby, minus any potential one-time purchases.

#8: You’ll detest pumping
Ugh. One of my least favorite parts about being a breastfeeding mom is pumping. If you’re able to pull it off without having to pump, I’m jealous. I hate lugging my pump to work every day, washing those pump parts, and the worst of it all, feeling so exposed with tubes and suction shields in places I’d rather not have them.

#9: Breastfeeding allows the baby to control how much he eats
With breastfeeding, babies get to decide when to stop, slow down, drink, and how much.

#10: Breastfeeding makes it difficult to tell how much your baby has consumed
At the same time, breastfeeding makes it difficult to know for certain how much your baby drinks. If your baby has issues with gaining weight like my little preemie did, the uncertainty can definitely make you feel a bit anxious.

#11: If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you are the only source of food
Beware dads: you may just get dagger eyes from your jealous partner because you don’t have the stress or burden of being the sole provider of food for your baby. It’s a huge responsibility, and while dads can do their best to help with breastfeeding, in the end, they don’t come with lactating boobs. Yet even with the added stress, I also felt pride that I am helping grow my baby, not just when he was in my womb but even with my milk.

#12: Breastfeeding is a “once in a lifetime” experience
I was so ready to call it quits when I had my bout with thrush. Formula isn’t evil, I was in pain, and the babies took to the bottles well. But I also struggled with ending my supply: once I stopped, there was no going back. Unfortunately, breastfeeding is one of those use-it-or-lose it deals; you can’t switch back and forth and pick it up later. I wanted to hang on to this experience a bit longer, knowing full well that time goes by too quickly and this wouldn’t last forever.

What were some things about breastfeeding that surprised you?

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