1. “I was utterly shocked (and then kind of impressed) by the spraying fire-hose effect. When my babies would pull off, the milk would go ballistic in all directions. (I had a lot of milk.)”– Lauren
2. “One thing no one told me, and that took me by surprise, was how comfortable I’d be with having my nipples out in the open!”– Claire T.
3. “Someone told me that if feeding isn’t ‘working’ in the beginning that it might not be my fault. (I.e. position, tongue tie, reasons other than you). I was mentally prepared for feeding not to come naturally, per se, and that was really helpful.”– Youngna
4. “That breastfeeding would make me feel isolated. I wasn’t comfortable with people—especially extended family—seeing my breasts, and covers didn’t work well for me, so I ended up in separate rooms than everyone else a lot of the time (like at family dinners). My first baby would nurse for 40 minutes at a time, so I’d miss a lot of the family conversation.” – Kim
5. “For the first several weeks, it takes two hands. (At least! A third is often required!)” – Claire T.
6. “My daughter spat up blood when she was one week old. I was mega-traumatized and took her to the ER, only to have the doctors tell me that’s super normal because I had a cracked nipple, and she had swallowed blood. Wish someone had told me!!!!” – Kate
7. “How painful those first two weeks are. Ow. Ow. Ow. Nobody talks about blistered or bloody nipples. I also had swollen ectopic breast tissue (swollen nodes in my armpits).” – Youngna
8. “I was so surprised at how long it took to nurse a newborn—especially one who constantly fell asleep at the breast! It took me about an hour to do each feed (with the diaper change and all the attempts to wake him with cool face cloths, and taking his feet out of the sleeper, or tickling his face). Then I’d still have to pump. And the next thing I knew, I’d be doing it all over again!” —Sadiya
9. “No one told me what letdown feels like… And it’s pretty weird. For some people it’s a burning sensation, for others it’s a tingling or pins-and-needles feeling. I would feel letdown even when I was away from the baby for a few hours, skipping a feeding. You don’t even need a clock—your boobs tell you when the baby is likely hungry.” —Ariel
10. “How you will be sleeping with a bra on for a looooong time. I didn’t really realize the leakage situation pretty much has you in a bra for as long as you’re nursing.” —Youngna
11. “Nobody told me how much more difficult it would be for me to stop breastfeeding than for my baby. She just up and quit one day, and I was left feeling really devastated. Suddenly that special bond was broken and I was surprised by how unprepared I was for those emotions.” — Karen
A version of this article appeared in the May 2016 issue on p. 54.