Breastfeeding can feel like a roller coaster of ups and downs, depending on how used to it you’ve become. The good news: once you’ve adapted, many women say that breastfeeding feels great.
However, breastfeeding can be pretty uncomfortable in the beginning. Your breasts will feel full, heavy, and swollen with the milk they’re carrying. Breastfeeding relieves that feeling, but your nipples will likely hurt for about two to three weeks when Baby first starts latching on and sucking. They’ll feel sore at best, but can get downright painful. Getting them to latch on correctly helps alleviate the pain, and after a few weeks, you’ll both likely be more acclimated with breastfeeding and feel less discomfort.
Once that happens, many women love breastfeeding. It’s often described as a feeling of relief, especially if your breasts are full. Some women say that breastfeeding feels like a tingling, warm feeling in the breast, especially at the moment of the milk let-down reflex that begins the flow. The sucking feels like a gentle tugging sensation. Pleasurable feelings are common too, especially if you’ve enjoyed nipple stimulation in the past (so don’t feel weird about that!). And in the early weeks after delivery, don’t be surprised if breastfeeding triggers uterine cramps. They’re helping your uterus return to its post-baby size.
Breastfeeding’s good feelings are often emotional as well as physical. Many women report a relaxed, calm state, helping them bond with their babies. Others even say they experience euphoria, a breastfeeding high brought on by the release of the hormones oxytocin and prolactin that accompanies baby’s sucking.
Of course, every woman is different, and some just aren’t that into breastfeeding. If that’s you, it’s okay! You don’t need to force it. If there’s something specific about breastfeeding that doesn’t work for you, it can be a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider or lactation consultant, and see if there’s anything you can do to help make breastfeeding a better experience for you, but if it doesn’t work out, there’s always the pump or formula option.
Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
- “Why breastfeeding is important.” Women’sHealth.gov. Office on Women’s Health, 7/21/2014. Web.
- “Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom.” Healthychildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics, 8/20/2015. Web.