5 Weird Things Happens When You Breastfeed
I was lucky to be able to produce milk for my son until I made the decision to quit myself just after a year. My original goal was 6 months, so I was thrilled with being able to make it to 12! However, due to Owen's tongue and lip ties, we had made the decision early on to pump and bottle feed as opposed to latching for meals. One of the many benefits of this was that it actually helped me to observe and fully appreciated the crazy, weird things our breastmilk does. A quick Google search will show you all the common benefits and facts about breastmilk/breastfeeding, but here are a few things that took me by surprise as no one had actively mentioned them until I went specifically searching:
Your boobs have built-in baby thermostats.
Your breasts can detect even a one degree fluctuation in your baby’s body temperature and adjust accordingly to help your baby warm up or cool down as needed through a process called thermoregulation.
When our son was born, he was almost 10 lbs and 22 inches tall and had a little extra difficulty regulating his blood sugar and body temperature because of his size. I had done all of the research into the benefits of skin-to-skin and breastfeeding but oddly enough, this fact was not mentioned as a highlighted feature. Thanks to some super supportive nurses who helped build a make-shift pillow fort around me so that I could have Owen safely on my chest even when we slept, his blood sugar and body temp were regulated and stable by the time we were due to go home.
Slacker boobs are a real thing AND it can switch on you without warning.
One boob almost always produces more milk than the other and studies have found that milk output is often greater from the right breast. This has nothing to do with which boob is bigger, whether you are right/left brain dominant or if you are right/left hand dominant. However, this can also spontaneously switch on you during your breastfeeding journey so don't be surprised if it swaps on you out of the blue.
Your breastmilk might be blue.
I had known that green breastmilk was common among mothers who eat plenty of vegetables or take vitamins on a regular basis. But when I pumped BLUE breastmilk, I was taken aback and immediately started googling.
As it turns out, blue breastmilk is totally normal. During a typical feeding/pumping session, your breast releases two different "types" of milk:
Foremilk is the milk you see at the beginning and is usually thinner and higher in lactose content.
Hindmilk is the milk you see at the end and is usually whiter, thicker and fattier.
The time of day can affect the amount of foremilk/hindmilk your body creates as well. Your body tends to create a higher percentage of foremilk in the morning and a higher percentage of hindmilk at night.
If you finish a pumping session and notice that your milk is bluer than normal, it is likely that the milk you just pumped has a higher percentage of foremilk. This can be due to many reasons such as your diet, the time of day you pumped and whether or not you breastfeed before pumping. (The image at the top of this article is a comparison of my actual milk pumped in the morning versus at night.)
(When I looked this up, I also discovered that this was something that had actually gone "viral" after a mom posted a photo of her blue breastmilk following her baby receiving vaccines. To-date, there is no scientific research that backs the theory that your baby's vaccinations are responsible for a change in breastmilk color.)
Breastmilk helps your baby develop a circadian rhythm.
Breastmilk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps bodies naturally produce melatonin. The levels of tryptophan in your breastmilk rise and fall based on your sleep schedule, which can help your baby settle at night easier and develop their own circadian rhythms.
You might not get your period.
Here's a term to remember: lactational amenorrhea. This is a temporary period of time where a woman will not menstruate after giving birth if she is "fully breastfeeding" due to an increase in levels of prolactin. This can last, on average, for up to 6 months for some women. However, this does not guarantee that every woman will experience the full 6 months free from Aunt Flow (some might even experience more) - our bodies are all different and there are a lot of other factors that can play into it. Just don't be taken by surprise if you realize your lady business has not resumed as usual immediately following birth.
(It may also important to note that, while it may seem like a great time to take advantage of "nature's birth control," this is still not a fool-proof method of contraception. If the idea of another pregnancy makes you cringe right now, you may want to reach out to your doctor and talk about other options even before your regular periods return.)