My two boys are now teens, but I nursed them when they were babies, like so many moms. Although that was more than a decade ago, it seems like yesterday after reading this Florida Today story from Jessica Saggio.
Some things she mentioned surprised me as I read, while others had me nodding my head in agreement or laughing out loud.
The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous and I’m thankful things worked out well for me, because I know breastfeeding sometimes doesn’t go as smoothly for others.
According to the Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is the easiest way to give your child a balanced meal, protect them against many childhood diseases, divert allergy issues, and it can even protect them against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Not to mention the gazillion psychological benefits of that skin-to-skin contact for mom and baby.
Additional benefits I loved discovering:
You’ll save money because you won’t have to purchase formula. Or at least not until you need to supplement. (Hello, second baby 17 months later!)
Breastfeeding helps shrink your belly to a size close to the one you remember before baby. Who am I kidding? Most of us are never really the same after giving birth. Well, I’m not.
Love for the lactation consultants
Like Saggio, I had a lactation consultant. I found mine before the birth of my first son. I was thrilled my consultant held breastfeeding support groups at her home where new moms would gather to discuss everything, from latching on to teething to vacationing with baby to clogged ducts.
One-on-one assistance also was available if needed, and every meeting offered an opportunity to weigh our babies. Gaining weight and doing well? Losing weight and need to see the pediatrician? The instant feedback was wonderful. I highly recommend belonging to a group like this, or at least finding other moms who can share this stage of motherhood.
Saggio had me laughing about having to explain to a man the need to pump. In her words:
They probably thought I was pumping gas or weightlifting or something. Wow, she’s really dedicated to fitness.
My boss at the time had four kids of his own so he got it. I was thrilled and surprised a room was made available at my workplace where I could go to pump. And maybe it was more like a broom closet than a relaxing place to express milk for my son, but nevertheless, at least I had a place. I cannot imagine being relegated to a bathroom where others are coming and going while your breasts are connected to a machine that leaves you feeling more like a cow on display than a proud new mom.
The funny stuff
In her story, Saggio discusses pumping while driving. My first thoughts were, “Are you kidding me? You’ll get in a wreck!” But wait, it’s genius, really. You’re trapped behind the wheel navigating your way to work, so why not? If you were covered as you drove along, one might not even know you were hooked up and expressing milk.
But, on second thought, the scenario that plays out in my head involves a trucker at an elevated position looking over and doing a double take at you.
As I read, the memories that had me laughing the most were boob pads, boobs of steel, covers and leakage.
Pre-birth breastfeeding class is where you find out excess milk will come when baby’s not around. Wait, now you need pads for the girls? Yes, you do.
I was incredibly embarrassed when spots on my blouse appeared after one especially long time away from my son. Had I leaned too close to the sink when I washed my hands? Um, no. That’s actually my … Ahem. There’s just no unseeing that.
That one time at the mall
Covers? NOW there are covers? It’s apparent things have improved a lot since I was a nursing mom.
I used light, unfolded cotton cloth diapers tucked into the strap of my nursing bra at the top and draped over my son as he nursed when we were out somewhere. He would later come to use the diaper as a blanket for nap times.
But he once ripped the cloth away in the middle of feeding at the mall, exposing me in all my glory, and sending milk shooting out several feet. The mall’s custodian came and placed a sign nearby indicating the floor was slippery.
I was mortified, but I can laugh about it now.
Thankful looking back
Both my sons were born via C-section. I just couldn’t get either of them out. And I couldn’t get my milk to “come in” until several days later, either. I was nursing like crazy and supplementing with formula. I was scared that my milk would never come in, and then it finally did — four days later.
I remember shivering, asking for the air to be turned down, or the fan speed to be turned lower. First-time breastfeeder that I was, it took others pointing to two distinct areas that needed my attention. I was cold because I was wet, because I was leaking. My milk had finally come in. And I was soon squealing with delight, “Get the baby!”
To all the soon-to-be breastfeeding moms and all those looking back: Well, there’s nothing like it. And I’m so thankful.