No, that’s not a typo. Having a baby clinging to your nipple 12 hours a day is actually quite freeing. Seems like a paradox, right? It doesn’t have to be. I know some moms don’t feel this way, but breastfeeding made me feel like I could do anything, anywhere, with anyone, at any time.
With a body that automatically created the absolute perfect substance to feed my baby, I felt pretty powerful. After giving birth and nursing a newborn, I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do. I knew I could manage the pain of labor, the emotions of childbirth, and the soreness that came along with the first few weeks of breastfeeding. I could devote myself entirely to this creature that now attached himself to my breast whenever he needed pretty much anything. And I didn’t have to do anything extra. It was just the way it worked. All of a sudden, birthing and breastfeeding my baby had instantly transformed me into superwoman. Maybe because I had given up so much control and planning to the birthing and breastfeeding thing, I felt like I could handle anything anyone threw at me. That’s a very freeing feeling.
The first time I tried breastfeeding Baby T away from the house, I was at my in-laws’. I shut myself off in the guest room with my boppy and my baby, and I nursed. I couldn’t figure out whether to pop my boob out the top or the bottom of my shirt. I wasn’t quite sure how to get comfortable holding my baby. I leaked all over the front of my shirt and had to borrow a clean one.
After that, I learned to:
- Wear 2 layers, and lift the top layer up to breastfeed. That way, if you leak onto the bottom layer, no one will see it.
- Sit Indian-style or cross one leg over the other to help prop the baby up. Or borrow a pillow. I figured out how to get comfortable without the boppy.
- Stay put when I breastfed. I didn’t want to establish a pattern of leaving the room. Then I would have to do that forever. Instead, I started to just put my baby to my breast whenever I needed to, without stopping my sentence or turning away. I think that helped people around me get used to it pretty quickly.
Breastfeed Around Anyone
The more people who see you nursing in public, the more comfortable the world will get with breastfeeding. I truly believe this. I’ve breastfed in front of:
- the cashier at the grocery store
- a hostess walking me through a restaurant to be seated
- a police officer after getting in a car accident
- every member of my family
- my friends
- my friends’ husbands
- waiters, bartenders, and lifeguards
- flight attendants
But most of all, I felt comfortable nursing in front of my friends who also breastfed. So this is who I surrounded myself with. That way, when I squirted milk across the room, leaked all over myself, or juggled a baby who squirmed incessantly while breastfeeding, I had other moms to commiserate and laugh with.
Breastfeed at Any Time
When I started breastfeeding, I was more comfortable nursing in my own house. I would try to plan my day around nursing and try to be home when I thought my baby would want to nurse. I quickly learned that predicting a baby’s hunger is like being a meteorologist: You have a vague idea of what will happen when, but things rarely go according to plan. As long as I had my baby with me, I didn’t have to stress out about schedules, meal times, or rushing home. I could nurse whenever.
Breastfeeding is Freeing
I wanted to tell you all of this because it’s easy to worry about your lifestyle changing when you become a mom. I know we all expect it, but it can be pretty terrifying to think that we are at the complete whim of a tiny sack of sobbing and sucking. But even though after becoming a mom you probably see a lot more poop than ever before, you can still pretty much do the same things you did before you were pregnant. Especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding means you don’t have to worry about running out of food for your baby. You don’t have to take any extra time to clean or warm a bottle. It might take extra time at first to get comfortable with your baby’s patterns or your positioning, but it takes time to figure out positioning and eating patterns when bottle feeding, too. Nursing the baby for comfort will save you from hours of rocking, shushing, and bouncing. If your baby nurses easily to sleep, you can get baby to take a nap during a picnic, an evening out with friends, or a lunch date. Bringing your baby with you wherever you go means that you won’t stress out about how much to pump, how much milk to warm up, or whether your baby will calm down without you. And if you’re worried that you’ll feel like you are constantly holding your baby, when you’re out and about, there are always plenty of people who will volunteer to hold your baby. And being able to nurture your baby any time, anywhere, and with anyone is pretty freeing.