|Ugh use a cover, whore!|
I have limited time when I have two hands free, so I'm going to have to condense three different posts into one. Luckily, all three are about boobs. Or breasts. Tits. Jugs. Cans. Hooters. Knockers. Fun Bags. Chesticles. Whatever you like to call them.
Let's begin with a recap since some of you probably remember my last mammary-related post. Breastfeeding has gotten so much easier. The clouds have parted and the sun is shining just like everyone said it would. But it wasn't easy. I now completely understand why so many women either don't attempt to breastfeed or don't do so for very long. The odds just aren't in their favor. I did everything *right* before hand. I avoided all the booby traps. Lots of research before hand. Unmedicated labor. Immediate skin to skin. No artificial nipples. No circumcision. Feeding on demand. You name it, I did it. And I still had SO MUCH TROUBLE. We had a bad latch. Perrin is an uncoordinated nurser. My nipples blistered and bled. I was missing a chunk out of one of them. I had to pump on the bad side and nurse on the good side so the chunk could heal. But the "good side" didn't produce enough to pull double duty, so I had to use an SNS with the pumped milk from the other side. At night I would wake up, heat up the pump milked and set up the SNS, nurse Perrin (which took about an hour at the time because he was the World's Slowest Nurser) then pump the other side, then go to bed and do it all over again in an hour. But then the "good side" was damaged from all the extra abuse, so I switched. Both times I had to pump, I got mastitis. Three days of fever, chills, cold sweats, and pain. He wouldn't cup feed, or finger feed. I wouldn't risk a bottle and nipple confusion. We saw two lactation consultants, a pediatrician, and our midwife. Cranio-sacral and chiropractic treatments.
Finally, it started to "click" for us. His latch hurt a little less. But I could only get him to latch with me sitting up leaning over him. My back was so sore. Joey and I had to both get up for every feed (which was about every hour and half at night) and arrange the pillows just right. He would comfort nurse a lot, sometimes all day. I would be stuck on the couch for hours on end. It seemed like each hour lasted a day and half. But you know what? He comfort nurses less now. His feeding sessions have spaced out. He sometimes goes 5 hours at a time at night. We are finally in our groove. I can fix almost any of his problems with nothing but my own body. He can nurse lying down now, which means I barely wake up for night feedings. And because I had to nurse exclusively on one side so many times and he was at the breast so often, I have an amazing supply. Oversupply comes with some of it's own unique issues, but it is not that bad. I pump every morning now. I have a nice stash in our freezer for Perrin and I've also been able to start donating. Which brings me to my next topic...
There is a hierarchy of feeding for babies. The first and most beneficial method of feeding is to be breastfed by the mother, straight from the tap. The contact of the infant with the mother's nipple provides a unique give and take relationship that creates a customized source of nutrition. The second best method is for the baby to get the mother's expressed milk, i.e. from pumping. Third is for the baby to receive the breastmilk of another woman. And last- formula. There are lots of ways to donate milk, including formal milk banks. I'm glad we have these. They are important for many reasons, including the use by hospitals for babies that don't have access to breast milk otherwise. But I have noticed that many moms don't know about milk banks. Or don't have one near by. Or can't afford to get milk from them. It is for this reason that I chose to donate through informal milk sharing. Basically, I have extra milk and some mom might not have enough, so why wouldn't it make sense for me to give her some of mine? This (in addition to wet nursing) is how babies have been kept alive for millenia even when their mother's couldn't produce enough milk.
I chose to do this because it's easy to say "breast is best" (thought this statement is problematic for other reasons), but in reality it can be incredibly hard. A woman shouldn't have to result to formula. Let me be clear, I'm not saying there is anything wrong if a woman chooses to give formula to her baby. But that should be an actual choice- not a lack of options. So I want to make breastmilk available for free to women who would like to have it. I don't care why the woman doesn't have breastmilk of her own. Maybe she had breast surgery. Maybe she has insufficient tissue. Maybe she was the victim of booby traps that decimated her supply. Maybe her work doesn't let her pump regularly. Or maybe she just doesn't want to. I don't really care. It's about nutrition for the baby, not the mother's personal choices.
NIP (Nursing in Public)
The final topic I want to address is nursing in public. This topic seems to get a lot of press. There is always some news story about some celebrity who was spotted breastfeeding, or some store that told a nursing mother to stop, and then everyone wants to give their two cents about why they do or do not approve. Those who don't approve have a litany of reasons why women shouldn't nurse anywhere where others can see them. To those people, all I have to say is...
I could explain to you that babies need to eat, and sometimes this occurs while their mothers are out doing things.
I could explain about the importance of breastfeeding on demand.
I could tell you how difficult it is to pump and lug around milk and bottles and icepacks and what not.
I could give you information on the importance of normalizing breastfeeding and combating the hypersexualization of the female body.
I could explain that breastfeeding is not at all like urinating or having sex.
I could tell you that modesty is incredibly subjective.
I could point out that you don't have a problem with the countless advertisements and women in revealing outfits who are showing just as much skin as a nursing mother.
I could point out that I see people doing stuff I don't particularly like all the time in public, but I don't get to tell them to leave whatever place they are in.
I could also explain that you are capable of turning your head in any direction and no one is forcing you to stare at a breastfeeding mother.
But I'm not going to waste my breath. Because at the end of the day, I don't really care what you think. I would prefer you not harass mothers feeding their babies because that can be damaging to their overall breastfeeding relationship, but the fact of the matter is your opinion is meaningless. A woman's right to breastfeed in public is protected by law in almost every single state. Your objections are irrelevant.
So there you have it. All of my thoughts on breasts.