You can't walk around topless and 9 other things they don't tell you about breastfeeding

There are courses, books and websites to help you learn how to breastfeed.  If you need more help getting established, or a personal touch, you can speak to midwives, peer supporters or even a lactation consultant. Information and support can be essential in building a good feeding relationship, but what you hear less about is breastfeeding beyond the newborn stage. As you get more confident and your baby becomes more active breastfeeding changes. 

Here are ten things they don’t tell you about breastfeeding beyond the newborn stage.

close up of a newborn baby latched on to a nipple breastfeeding

You can’t walk around topless

No it's not the risk of leaking milk or that your weighty boobs need support, it's because the sight of your breasts is just too much for your baby to handle. It's like someone eating a large slice of delicious cake in front of you and refusing to share.  Likewise if you feed them while topless they can’t concentrate long enough to feed properly, switching constantly from one side to the other. It's almost like you can hear them thinking "I want this one, no this one, actually this one".

Your chest gets covered in bruises

Babies like to fiddle and pinch while they feed. It's cute when they are stroking you on the face, less so when tweaking your other nipple or pinching your arm. I am often covered in bruises although a great way to prevent this is to redirect baby’s attention to a safe necklace like this one from Nibbling.

A baby holding on to a blue teething necklace with blue stars and balls, while being held

You will probably get kicked in the face

The newborn days of breastfeeding when your sweet little cherub just lies in your arms are surprisingly short. Babies quickly get strength in their muscles and they like to practise gymnastic skills while feeding. It’s totally normal for them to stick a foot in your face, try to turn upside down and balance on one leg while nursing (sometimes all at the same time).

You might seek out nursing rooms

With my first child I used a cover when out, with my second I have been less bothered about covering up, yet I often look for a breastfeeding room when in a busy place. This isn't about people seeing me nurse, it's because from about 3 months old babies find the world so exciting that any noise competes with the milk. The constant distractions make feeds last for ages and can result in regular nipple flashing. Of course there are other benefits: many breastfeeding rooms have free water, comfy seats and a chance for you to put your feet up and rest for a while.

Your nipples will get stretched

If you are feeding and baby gets distracted you just might discover your nipples are surprisingly stretchy. Baby will often come off to have a look around leaving you exposed (and if badly timed: leaking) but what is probably worse is when they stay latched on but just move their head around. It's surprising how far they can go while still latched on, it's not surprising that it isn’t very comfortable.

A baby latched on breastfeeding in a position sideways and looking at the camera
Yes, she was breastfeeding when I took this 

Breastfeeding can be noisy

“I’ll just subtly latch them on here to keep them quiet” you think. The sound of slurp slurp slurp, gulp, gulp will probably turn more heads than them chattering away. Oops. Babies can be noisy eaters.

You have magic powers

Boobing solves everything. Yes breast milk is an amazing food source, but it is also an amazing comfort and gives you a super power to help baby in most situations: hungry? Give boob. Thirsty? Give boob. Tired baby who can't sleep? Give boob. Hurt themselves? Give boob. Teething? Poorly? Cranky? Boob, boob, boob.

It’s normal to want a break

Even if it's going well, even if you enjoy it there will be times you just want a break. The dependency on you is huge and sometimes you will feel touched out and just want a break from the small thing who only seems interested in your chest orbs. That's ok. It's normal. It will pass.

A black and white photograph of a baby nursing while lying next to her mother in bed

Teething hurts

Ok people tell you this all the time; for some reason people think that when babies have teeth they are going to bite your nipple off and yes they might actually bite you once or twice, but taking them off and saying "No!" normally stops that. It's not the biting that really hurts, it's the dodgy latch they get for a day or two when new teeth are coming in. The change in their mouth seems to make them forget how to latch properly leading to rubbing as the nipple is incorrectly positioned (it helps to go back to basics and encourage a good latch).

Milk is medicine

Once you are comfortable with your milk you might find you use it for all sorts of things. Breastmilk is full of near magical ingredients. It might even hold the answer to cure aids and cancer, so it's not really surprising if you start experimenting with it. Rubbing it on sore skin, gargling with expressed milk if you have a sore throat and using it for eye infections are just a few ways other mums have tried using mummy milk.

So there you have it: 10 things about breastfeeding you are unlikely to hear in the literature from your midwife. Did I miss anything?


  1. I was literally laughing my head off at the first one! Oscar gets so so excited at the sight of my naked boobs! He launches for them and does this little laugh as if to say, mine, all mine! Once he's spotted it that's it! This is such a fab post! Every one is spot on!


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