Congratulations for making it through pregnancy, labor, and delivery! You’ve been through a rollercoaster ride of physical changes and you’ve probably been expecting for it to stop. But as you start breastfeeding, you’re about to experience another round of changes in your body. Every mom’s experience is different, but here are five common things breastfeeding moms may experience during this blissful part of motherhood.
Nursing makes you sleepy
You probably noticed that babies tend to fall asleep while feeding, but did you know that you might also doze off while at it? Breastfeeding induces the production of oxytocin, which calms and relaxes nursing moms. That’s your body’s natural way of taking care of you — especially since you might be exhausted from nursing in the middle of the night!
You probably won’t get your period
Prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production, inhibits the menstrual cycle. If you’re breastfeeding exclusively, you probably won’t get your period for an average of 14 months.
Take note that you can still get pregnant immediately even if you don’t menstruate. Ask your doctor for advice regarding reliable contraception if you’re not ready to have another tot. Methods such as Postpartum IUDs and progestin-only pills are often recommended for breastfeeding moms since they don’t affect milk production.
Your breasts may change
Your breasts may become larger, firm, and warm, especially during the first few weeks after giving birth. This is called engorgement, and it may be uncomfortable because your body adjusts to producing milk. There may be times when it’s full to the point and feels very firm from being filled with milk. This will improve as your breasts get accustomed to filling and emptying when nursing. Frequent feeding can help prevent severe engorgement and relieve discomfort.
If your breasts are already uneven before pregnancy and delivery, the discrepancy might become even more noticeable when you’re breastfeeding. One breast may be bigger than the other after feeding. Your nipples can get darker, bigger, and more pointed than before.
You might also feel lumps in your breasts
These painful, marble-like bumps in your breasts could be plugged milk ducts. They may happen more often during the first weeks if your baby’s latch doesn’t empty your breasts, and later on when you nurse less frequently.
To get rid of those plugged milk ducts, keep nursing on the side where you feel the lumps and massage it as your baby is feeding. This will help unplug the duct and let the milk flow better.
Untreated plugs can develop into an infection called mastitis. Get in touch with your doctor when you experience symptoms such as breast tenderness, swelling, lumps, pain, redness, and fever.
You might experience vaginal dryness
Estrogen levels are often lower among breastfeeding moms. You might experience symptoms like dryness, burning sensation, itching, and pain in the vagina and on the vulva. This can make sex less than stellar, but a handy tube of water-based lube like EZ Lubricating Jelly will help make doing the deed more comfortable.