Breastfeeding has somehow become a weird mommy battleground within the past few years (I’m not quite sure why, I don’t know how anyone has the right to tell anyone else what to do with their boobies any more than they do their uterus…but I digress). This post discusses my thoughts and experiences on breastfeeding, but f you don’t breastfeed, either because you didn’t want to, weren’t able to, are too busy breastfeeding your pug or whatever, I really don’t care. Do what you have to in order to keep you and your baby happy, sane and healthy.
No judgement here, mamas.
Now that that’s out of the way, my experience with breastfeeding has been quite lovely. Olive latches well, I have plenty of milk, it’s painless (barring those two weeks when our thrush was undiagnosed and I had toe-curling pain whenever she nursed. WHYYY did I take 2 weeks to figure it out? Sweet jesus. PRO TIP: if breastfeeding suddenly starts hurting when it didn’t before,find out why.)
All in all it’s been a lovely experience, but here are some things I wish I knew before I started.
1. Cloth nursing pads are bullshit (at least for the first month or so)
Look, I am a pretty eco-friendly lady (I mean I wash my hair with baking soda and make my own laundry soap. I’ve earned my dirty hippie badge) so while I was pregnant I ordered some pretty little cloth nursing pads from my favorite place, Etsy. I got some with a waterproof backing, some without and I figured I was set.
HA! I soaked through them in about five minutes. For the first week I went through about five shirts a day until I finally broke down and bought disposable nursing pads.
I hated using disposables. I am using cloth diapers, cloth wipes, bought everything second hand blah blah blah and it killed me to be buying and throwing out so much stuff, I mean some brands of nursing pads (coughMedelacough) even came individually wrapped. So each and every pad came encased in its own plastic sleeve! That’s insane!
Seriously, I had to pause and shed a single tear every time I opened one up, but what could I do? Nothing else was working for me.
I’m just now getting to the point where my supply has regulated itself a bit so I can use the cloth ones again, layered with a disposable just in case. This has cut down on waste considerably, I’m doing less single-tear shedding and my conscience is resting a bit easier.
Bottom Line:Have some disposable nursing pads on hand just in case. But NOT the individually wrapped ones.
2. Nursing covers are bullshit.
I think that most moms-to-be are slightly nervous about breastfeeding in public. It’s not in many people’s comfort zones to whip out a boob in a mall food court, or bare their nipple in front of their painfully awkward 17 year old waiter, so they rush out and buy nursing covers, which are basically big bibs that they can hide their boobs and their boob-sucking babies out of polite society’s gaze. But honestly, you really don’t need one.
Firstly because they are awkward as all hell. You’re trying to maneuver a baby, a nursing bra, a nursing pad and a nipple, which is complicated enough on its own (especially in the beginning) without adding the extra step of trying to do it under a giant tent. Plus I think that a nursing cover tends to draw more attention to a nursing mother, rather than less. To the casual observer most of the time when you’re breastfeeding it just looks like you’re snuggling your baby.
I think I’m pretty discrete about nursing Olive, I don’t get all in-your-face I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BREASTFEED MY BABY ANYWHERE I WANT, lactivist-lady about it, but a hungry baby is a powerful motivator and sometimes you just have to get the job done. If someone wants to stare at my boob, while I feed my baby, go for it buddy.
I also think that pre-baby, you don’t realize that your body really becomes sort of public property in a way. During birth and in the first few days post-partum you will have so many strangers seeing you naked, examining you, and (if you’re breastfeeding) touching your breasts, manipulating your nipples, watching baby latch etc etc. that you get over any shyness pretty quickly.
Bottom Line:I get being a bit shy, so here’s what you do: The best outfit for discrete breastfeeding is a tank top and a sweater/top shirt. Lift the top layer up, the tank top down and you expose pretty much nothing once baby is latched. No tent necessary. (Unless you want one! In which case, rock on tent-lady!)
3. Nursing Bras Are Probably Bullshit (if you are small chested)
Seriously, they are the WORST. If you are a small breasted lady like I am (was?) then you probably don’t need them at all. I hate the look of them, I have how the cups reach practically up to my collarbones, I hate the ginormous thick straps and I hate having to fiddle with the clasps to unhook the boob-revealing part.
I’ve found that even with my larger ta-ta’s I still don’t need much support so a bralet like this works way better. No fiddling with clasps, I don’t feel like a cow, and I can just pull it down when I need to nurse.
Bottom Line: I think I should have just called this list “Things About Breastfeeding I Think Are Bullshit”. Anyway…small boobs=no nursing bra (maybe, if that’s what you’re down with.)