One thousand, seven hundred and sixty is the exact number of days (including the leap year), that I breastfed for. The last almost five years of my life have been pretty crazy, busy, fun, amazing, and honestly, enlightening. The one absolute constant has been breastfeeding. I wrote a piece about two years ago, when I finished nursing Annie, and now that Charlotte has reached the end, I write again.
This time, I want to share what I have learned about breastfeeding.
1. It is fucking hard – no one really explains this when you’re pregnant. Everything is all, crepe paper and whipped cream frosting, and then you have this alien looking baby with a mouth that probably doesn’t really know what it’s doing and a mom who probably doesn’t know what she’s doing, and no sleep, and “wait, is that a perfect latch?” and “how do I know she’s getting enough?” and holy shit, I just had a baby. It’s hard.
2. It’s okay that it’s hard – It’s hard for a lot of people. Some people it actually DOES come naturally to. And to some, it’s just painful, and bloody and hard.
3. If it’s hard there are a gagillion people waiting to help you – ASK for help. WE WANT TO HELP. (I didn’t ask, I didn’t know I could, I suffered, it was dumb)
4. Side lying will save your life.
5. Breastmilk cures everything – I have used it on: pinkeye, cuts, scrapes, burns, tattoos. It heals things faster than any triple antibiotic cream ever could. I’m bummed that I’m not going to have direct access to it anymore.
6. Easiest way to keep a baby quiet: Boob.
7. Most OB’s, don’t know jack doodle about breastfeeding, but Lactation Consultants do. Probably part of why there isn’t much explanation about how hard breastfeeding is while one is pregnant.
8. Formula is not the devil – This might sound strange, in a breastfeeding post, but really, it was something that I learned while breastfeeding, and I think it’s important that breastfeeding moms remember this. Feeding your baby is feeding your baby, and in a perfect world, we’ll all put our baby to the breast and sing kumbaya or something, but in the current world we live in, please remember that we are just working on getting these little people to be big people. (Unrelated, but also, don’t fucking tell people how to parent while grocery shopping, or in Target. It’s just rude).
9. Donor milk is awesome – If you don’t already know, you can donate breast milk. Momma’s who don’t produce enough, or any at all (Or perhaps adoptive parents) and want their baby to have breast milk, can get donated breast milk. Locally, breast milk can be donated just casually if everyone is on board, but there’s also a registry, and people can give away all their pumped milk to people in need.
10. That even in the Ithaca Wal Mart, people will look at you funny for breastfeeding in public.
11. That nursing in public ain’t no thing. – The first few weeks that I was nursing Annie, I was nervous about pulling out the nip (surprising, I KNOW), but once we got the hang of it all…I became a public nursing pro!
12. That there are still states that don’t protect the mother nursing in public. For shame.
13. Breast pumps suck.
14. You can breastfeed from only one breast.
15. That when you’re done, you’re done. You know it, and it’s cool.
Be and do good.