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Ah, breastfeeding: Exhilarating, empowering, weird as all hell. If you decide to hop on the nursing bandwagon, be prepared for a lot of strange stuff—good and bad—to happen to your body. Here, seven common breastfeeding side effects and how to handle them. 

RELATED: 7 Breastfeeding Myths Totally Busted 

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Your Nipples Might Hurt 
If it’s your first time breastfeeding, you might notice some nipple irritation. That’s because that area probably hasn’t experienced that degree of stimulation before. To soothe the pain, use a cream like this that contains purified lanolin, which is 100 percent natural and hypoallergenic. 

It Might Feel Like You Have Menstrual Cramps 
Oxytocin, the hormone that triggers milk let-down, causes your uterus to shrink back to normal size, and as it does, you sometime feel cramping. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s a sign your body is healing. 

RELATED: The Best and Worst Things to Eat While Breastfeeding

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You Might Go Up a Bra Size (or Two) 
After you give birth, your body produces less estrogen and progesterone, but more prolactin, a milk-producing hormone. This change causes your boobs to grow even more than they did when you were pregnant and feel super tender. (Don’t worry, they’ll go back to their old size once you’re done nursing.)

But You Might Lose Your Pregnancy Weight Faster
Here's an added bonus: Breastfeeding burns 300 to 500 calories a day, meaning a lot of women see increased weight loss during this time. Of course this varies from person to person, but unless you're overcompensating by consuming extra food, you'll probably notice some of the baby weight falling off even if you aren't hitting the gym on the regular. (And who is, post-baby, to be honest?) 

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Your Nipples Will Turn Into Showerheads 
Think the milk comes out in one single stream? Think again. Your nipples actually have many little openings through which milk is released, causing a spray that’s sort of like your favorite rainforest shower. (Cue, squirting yourself in the face.)

Your Breasts Might Leak a Lot 
Without warning or at the sound of a baby crying (it doesn’t even have to be your baby), you will leak at some point. Thank goodness for nursing pads.

RELATED: 8 Things New Parents Should Never Post to Social Media 

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Sam Edwards/Getty Images

You Might Have Back and Neck Pain 
Think about your posture when you’re breastfeeding in the middle of the night. Chances are you’re hunched over, half asleep. All of that slumping does a number on your back and neck. If you can, make a concerted effort to sit up straighter while nursing to save yourself from unnecessary aches. 

RELATED: 7 Breastfeeding Hacks that Make a Tough Job Just a Bit Easier

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