Running behind. It’s “F” Day!
I wanted to breastfeed (bf) as soon as I found out what boobies were for. I was little, little. I guess mom tried it for a couple of weeks (supposedly). I don’t remember. I don’t care. I do bf my own children, however.
With my first I worked really hard to be discrete. I would miss out at dinner if we went out and she wanted to eat, too. I think I even fed her in a couple of restrooms (shudder). I pumped as much as I could, always in a restroom at work. I scrubbed that place reg-u-lar-ly, even though all of the women who used it had to take turns cleaning it. It was humiliating, depressing, demoralizing, and degrading. Yet, I persevered. I refused to let those misogynistic jerks who didn’t even want to give me pumping breaks, let alone a (relatively) clean place to do it, beat ME. I won. Sort of.
I would have lots of milk on Mondays, but by Friday I was barely pumping anything and my daughter nursed nonstop during the weekends to get my supply back up. Since I couldn’t pump enough to feed her exclusively breast milk, we supplemented with formula: Enfamil with Choline and DHA. I hated it, but she had to eat.
With my second child, I still covered up, but I wouldn’t ever leave the table if we were out. I’d just do the best I could and figured people could just not look. I never took her into a stall. I claimed a rarely used space at work where I could pump. I posted signs and turned my back to the door. I won again! She only had to be bottle fed for a few months, until I became a SAHM when she was about six months old. That was it for me and breast pumps.
I made a nursing cover for number three. It’s beautiful. I used it for a few months, until she decided that she didn’t want to eat under something. She was unashamed. Why should I be? That was it for me and nursing covers. Babies don’t like to eat covered up, they want to look around and be in the world with us. Covers form an unfair barrier.
I no longer cover up in public. If I am in a very public place and I’m uncomfortable with the people around me, I will go somewhere I do feel comfortable to nurse. Sometimes it’s the van. Sometimes it’s just a more secluded public area. I will also cover up if I know I am in the vicinity of a very conservative elderly person. Old dogs and new tricks and suchlike.
Once, with number four, I was nursing in the kids’ department at Barnes and Noble. A European woman complimented me for nursing in public as her 13 month old latched on. She was annoyed and frustrated with America and their attitudes towards breastfeeding. She was told in a local hospital to cover up so she didn’t offend anybody. She politely declined. In our state we have the right to breastfeed anytime anywhere. There are no cover-up provisions. But still.
She and I both agree that nursing mothers, so much as they are able, should nurse in public, discretely, without covering up. Nursing needs to be demystified. It needs to become a fully valid form of baby nutrition. Nursing isn’t something that needs to be hidden. Nipples and breasts are not dirty, nasty, tainted, or vulgar. They are designed to feed babies. They do not come with cover-ups.
So, what do I wear? I wear a nursing tank or a stretchy cami tank underneath my regular shirt. This is for my privacy. I dislike showing off my pudgy belly. I like the camis better than the nursing tank because there are no clasps to contend with. I have milk supply troubles. I cannot diet and if I lose too much weight too quickly, I make less milk. It kind of has to sneak off by itself. Yeah, I’m still a fatty 🙂
How do I feel about bottle feeding? I love bottle feeding other people’s babies 😀 I feel there is a cultural failure in how nursing mothers are treated. We say breast is best but fail to provide real support and instead only criticize. “Cover up!” “You’re spoiling her!” “Are you still nursing?” “Why haven’t you lost all your baby weight?” “What do you mean you won’t pump so I can feed him?” “Is she on a schedule yet?” “Don’t let him use you as a pacifier!”
Here’s a short list of nursing “advice,” even from doctors and lactation consultants, and the truth of the matter as I see it:
- Don’t let her use you as a binkie. Truth: babies tell boobies how much milk to make. In the days or even the first week after birth, most babies will “cluster feed” or nurse for seemingly endless periods of time. This is normal and should not be discouraged. It will bring your milk in faster and help you establish your milk supply sooner. Cluster feedings taper off when the milk comes in and return before growth spurts to encourage breasts to make enough milk to fuel those periods of rapid growth.
- There’s no such thing as fore milk and hind milk, switch breasts after five to ten minutes. Truth: Milk at the beginning of a feeding has a higher water content than milk later into the feeding, and this does matter if you produce prodigious volumes of milk. You may need to express some of the watery milk before beginning a feeding or your baby could end up gassy. You might need to nurse one side to depletion then switch at the next feeding.
- Get her on a schedule. Truth: please note bullet number one. Baby eats when baby is hungry, and their needs vary throughout the day and throughout different periods of growth. Schedule if you want, you don’t have to.
- If you don’t get a “proper latch” baby won’t get enough to eat. Baby must have the whole areola in his mouth. Truth: Not all areolas are created equal. Some are quite large. If the latch hurts try and fix it. My number two had a terrible latch for several weeks until her mouth got bigger. It sucked. My number three had a crumby latch and was a lazy nurser. My number four liked to slurp the nipple up. Textbook latches are for textbooks. If baby eats and voids and grows and you are fine, it’s a good latch.