Breastfeeding In Public

I Am More Uncomfortable Than You Are While Breastfeeding In Public

Imagine you have friends over at your house and you feel like eating a snack. You go to your kitchen and grab something to eat. You then sit down to enjoy whatever snack you took and eat it while still visiting with your friends. Does someone tell you that you can’t eat in front of them? Do they make you cover your head so they can’t see you while you eat? No… that sounds ridiculous right! So why do we do this when it comes to breastfeeding. While breastfeeding in public, some moms are made to feel bad about feeding their babies and insecure because it is “gross and unnatural” to some people.

Well, I can tell you that as a breastfeeding mom, it is the most natural thing in the world. “Normalize Breastfeeding” has become a big movement and I believe that it is very important for women to be able to breastfeed in public as they need. It should not be anyone’s business what a mom does to care for her child. We see more skin in a lingerie ad or more nudity in an episode of anything on HBO than you will ever see while a woman is breastfeeding. However, I can also tell you that while you may be uncomfortable seeing me breastfeed my son (completely covered mind you), I am even more uncomfortable than you are! I know that some people really are not modest and they don’t care if they whip out a boob for the world to see; which is their right to do so and kudos to them for the confidence. But I am very modest, and I do not want anyone to see me, even if it is to feed my baby! To anyone who may feel uncomfortable watching a woman breastfeed, let me assure you, I am more uncomfortable to be breastfeeding in public than you are watching.

Whenever I go out with my son, I plan my trip around his feedings; I exclusively breastfeed, so when we go out if he is hungry then we breastfeed. I try to plan simple errands between his feedings so that I don’t even have to worry about it when we are out. For longer outings, I try to plan ahead and stop near or at places that I know I can feel comfortable feeding my son. When it comes down to it, I will feed my son anywhere I have to if he is hungry, period. But, I will try my best to make sure that I can have convenient and private places I feel comfortable nursing in already built into my schedule when I go out. For example, many malls and shopping areas have a nursing room, family area, or baby room. You may actually be surprised to learn how many places have a nursing room for moms, something I never knew until I started looking and asking. And there is always the fall back of nursing in the car (when it is not too hot outside); that is the one portable nursing area I can take with me.

Of course it is not always possible to have a private area to nurse in. There have been a few times when I had to breastfeed in public that made me uncomfortable (even though I am sure no one cared). The first time I found myself in such a situation was while out with a fellow mom and friend for lunch. I was in the middle of a delicious meal and enjoying some grown up company when little man was hungry; he went from zero to sixty really quick, he wanted to eat NOW… So I sat at the table with a blanket covering me and nursed him while I visited. We were in the back of the restaurant and there were only a few tables next to us, but it still was uncomfortable for me.

So the next time you see a mom breastfeeding in public, before you start to feel uncomfortable, remember that she may be even more self-conscious and uncomfortable then you ever will be. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable seeing a woman nurse, and that is okay… Simply turn your head, no one is forcing you to watch! She will probably prefer she not have an audience anyway.

Surviving The Newborn Stage

Caring for a newborn is an experience that truly tests your mental and emotional well being. On one hand you are beyond ecstatic about your brand new bundle of joy and over the moon happy that they are finally here. On the other hand you have no idea what you are doing and just trying to figure it out as you go; maybe trying to remember some helpful tips you read, although your sleep-deprived brain is making it hard to remember anything (like what day it is). You have just been through hours of very physically demanding labor and trying to recover all while your new baby needs you and wants to eat every two hours. You are trying to rest and recuperate while also getting to know your little one and bond with him/her. Needless to say you may be a little frazzled! So how do you survive the newborn stage without losing your wits?

Just remember the number 2… Just keep reminding yourself that each stage is only temporary, and it will be over soon enough. Don’t panic. Just when you think ‘I can’t take any more of this‘, remember that your baby will soon develop into another stage and his/her behavior and habits will evolve. It all boils down to focusing on getting to the next thing (the next feeding, nap, shower, day). I found that I was just focusing on one feeding at a time, which for me was every two hours. For those first two weeks, just think about getting to the next feeding which means only worrying about two hours at a time. You can make it through two hours right? Of course! That seems much more manageable right?

Now, just when you start to think how long will this last, just when you wonder if you can keep this up, remember that the next step is to take everything 2 weeks at a time. It seemed like every two weeks, my son would grow and develop into new patterns, habits, and abilities. The first big one was sleep; after two weeks he started sleeping for longer stretches of time at night and I felt like I was regaining some of my sanity back. Then the next two weeks were actually really tough. My son turned from a quiet, peaceful angel into a very fussy, loud, crying baby that seemed inconsolable. I wondered if I watered him by accident and he turned into a gremlin… But again just when I thought that I could not survive the crying anymore, he began to have more calm moments without me rocking him in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on (praise my husband for finding that trick!).

The last and most important ‘2’ is people; you are not alone, you have help! There is (hopefully) another person with you and baby 24/7 to lean on and help. This person may be your spouse, partner, parent, or even friend, but you will have at least one person to go through this with. I was lucky enough to not only have my husband home, but my mom flew out for the first two weeks as well. With two people you can take “shifts” with baby. You can take turns sleeping, showering, eating, etc. You may even ask to have someone else take a few shifts in a row and only call on you when baby is hungry (unless you are bottle feeding). My husband was amazing with our son, he truly should win a medal for how much he helped and took charge of everything so that I didn’t have to think about it. Remember that it took two of you to make a baby, so it makes sense that two of you equally care for the baby too! I know some dads are hesitant and maybe a bit scared, but ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT!

I hope this helps any expecting moms feel a little more at ease about bringing a newborn home. Just remember to take it two hours at a time, two weeks at a time, with two people to do it together! Nothing lasts forever so don’t get too overwhelmed. You will look back on this time like it was a blink of an eye.

Exclusively Breastfeeding: Pros and cons of being an on-demand milk machine

I am lucky enough to be a full-time stay-at-home mom to my baby boy. This allows me certain “luxuries” that I consider myself blessed for. I get to watch him grow up every day and see every single milestone, hear every new babble, and smell every diaper. I am there for him whenever he needs me, even in the middle of the night. I also get to exclusively breastfeed on-demand; meaning that he has never had formula or even a bottle of pumped milk, and I feed him whenever he wants/needs it.

This approach is not for everyone, and I realize that not everyone is capable of doing this either. I want to acknowledge that this post is only to share my experiences in hopes to help any other moms in the same situation or to give any moms-to-be some idea of what it can be like. This post is not to tell anyone that this is what they should do. I believe that as long as a baby is fed, and mom and baby are happy, then who the #$%& cares how you do it!

It seemed a very easy choice for me to want to breastfeed. Of course I had no idea how I would feel when the time came to actually do it (and to be honest I was scared for my nipples’ safety and scared that it would hurt beyond what I would be able to handle at first). I knew that I really wanted to exclusively breastfeed, but I also realized that life does not go according to plan and I promised myself that I would be open to other methods if it would end up being better for me and baby. After reading about the many benefits of breastfeeding, for mom and baby, I believed that it was the way to go for me. I was actually shocked at how many benefits there were!

Some of the benefits to breastfeeding that I found were honestly quite amazing. The very first milk your baby gets is colostrum which provides them with all kinds of health benefits and a boost for their immune systems. Mom and baby bond while breastfeeding, which was important for me. Breast milk can change and adapt to what your baby needs; for example, if they are sick then it will provide your baby with what they need to help fight it and can pass any immunities from mom to baby. Babies are also comforted by breastfeeding; sometimes they may not be hungry but they still want mom. Breastfeeding helps mom lose the baby weight quicker, and it also helps your uterus shrink back. There also seem to be many health benefits for babies who are breastfed, such as fewer ear infections for one example.

One of the best benefits would of course be that it is FREE! Exclusively breastfeeding means that you do not have to buy bottles, formula, or items for pumping such as milk storage bags. There are so many expenses with a new baby that any means to save money is greatly appreciated. You also don’t have any hassle of preparing bottles, worrying about bringing bottles and formula with you in your diaper bag, or have to worry about pumping and storing milk. From what I have heard from other mom’s experiences, a lot of time and preparation is needed when pumping to ensure that you have enough milk for your baby (and let’s face it, you could be using that time for something else, like SLEEP).

Now all of this is not to say that breastfeeding does not have its downsides as well… It means that I am the only one who can tend to baby in the middle of the night. Because he does not take a bottle, there is no replacement for mama at night time. Or any other time for that matter. He needs me close to him so that he can eat when he needs to. I can’t just take off for the whole afternoon and leave him with a babysitter. And I also had to overcome some physical discomforts when getting started and baby and I were both learning how to breastfeed over the first few weeks.

First, I was severely engorged when my milk supply came in; like someone was blowing up a balloon until it would pop (I felt like I got Dolly Parton breast implants). My boobs were so rock hard with milk and so huge that I was in physical pain; they were just in the way making it hard to hold baby properly and also difficult to get him to latch on. Second, because I was so engorged I got mastitis (a breast infection) and had to take antibiotics. Then, it was my suspicion that because I had taken antibiotics (and because they mess with your good bacteria), it aided in baby and I getting thrush which is basically a yeast infection on your nipples and in baby’s mouth. Thrush is very painful for mom and it took forever for it to go away completely because mom and baby can keep passing it back and forth. Imagine that your nipple is so sensitive that using a towel to dry off from the shower feels like sandpaper. And lastly, because he may not have been latching properly, he actually tore my nipple. It’s as bad as it sounds… Imagine trying to let a wound heal when you have something sucking on it every few hours. Let’s just say that a nipple shield turned out to be a lifesaver and let me continue to breastfeed through it.

I am sure you are thinking, why would anyone want to go through that, or continue to breastfeed though it? Because I knew it was what I wanted, and what I thought was best for me and baby. Once the first few weeks passed and baby and I became pros at breastfeeding, it is now a painless and enjoyable time that we share. It gives me such a special and irreplaceable bond with my son. I have learned his cues for when he is hungry, I have learned when he just needs me to be comforted, and when he needs me to sleep. It has become effortless, just another part of our daily (and nightly) routine. Exclusively breastfeeding may not be for everyone, but it is right for me and our family.  If you want to breastfeed but are unsure of what to expect, all I can say is that it is hard in the very beginning, but you can do it if you want to!

Breastfeeding Survival Kit

I am not going to sugar coat this for you- breastfeeding is a lot of work and it is not the most pleasant experience for your nipples in the beginning. It takes a little bit of time and patience before you and your baby have this whole thing figured out.  To help make this an easy transition, there are some things that you will find quite handy to keep close by in a “survival kit”.

As a first time mom and breastfeeder, I learned a lot about what to expect and what you need to make your breastfeeding endeavor a success. In all of my reading and preparing for my new baby, I never heard this advice so want to pass it on! Without trying to, I ended up hoarding certain things around me that I needed or wanted for breastfeeding (or comfort), creating a breastfeeding “survival kit” of sorts. You may be thinking what I was at first; “what could you possibly need a whole kit for if you are breastfeeding?”. Well, let me assure you that while your body is providing the milk and you don’t have the hassle of bottles, there are some things that you want to have close access to. Here is my list of must haves for mom to help you succeed in your breastfeeding goals with a newborn.

  • Nipple Cream: Let’s just say that having a newborn suck on your nipple every few hours takes some getting used to. And most of the time, they need some practice latching. Needless to say, you will be very tender and sore which is completely normal! Nipple cream will be your best friend; bring this buddy to the hospital with you and never let it leave your sight!
  • Bulb Aspirator: This is important to always keep close to baby in the beginning in case they start to choke. I always kept this close to me during feeding time in case baby started to spit up or choke.
  • Nursing Pillow: No matter what pillow you use (nursing pillow or regular pillow you have at home) you will want something to help support baby and/or your arm. Your newborn is still so tiny that it is very helpful to prop them up closer to your breast so that your arm is not doing all the work. It will help you get them into the correct position, which means a better latch, which means a happier nipple.
  • Burp Cloths: Between baby and boobs, there are lots of leaks. Burp cloths help keep any leaks under control. I felt like I constantly had one in hand or within arm’s reach.
  • Breast Pads: You will want these handy to stop your leaky milk faucets. If no one told you yet, you will leak! You will leak from one side while baby is eating from the other, you will leak when your milk lets down, you will leak for no reason sometimes.
  • Water bottle: Breastfeeding makes you very thirsty, and you will need to drink a lot of water for your milk supply. Having a nice water bottle right next to you will be so convenient, and will also remind you to drink your water!
  • Chapstick: It might just be me, but my lips are always dry, and having chapstick handy was very soothing.
  • Hair ties: If you have long hair like me, it gets in the way quite easily. I was always reaching for a hair tie to pull my hair back.
  • Pen and Paper: The first week or two in particular, it is important to keep track of feedings and diaper changes to make sure that baby is getting enough to eat. My doctor had me keep track of what time I started to feed, how long a feeding lasted, which side I started and ended with, and track wet and dirty diapers. I had a pen and pad of paper next to me while feeding so I could quickly jot down this info. *You may think you will remember, but once you turn into a sleep deprived zombie, you will be lucky if you remember anything*
  • Medication: Any medication your doctor prescribed from the hospital, or any general pain medication, is handy to have close by. You will also still need to take your prenatal vitamin. Having your medicine right next to you will be a good reminder to take it. For general pain medication, my doctor told me that Motrin was safe but you may want to ask your doctor what to have at home so you are already prepared. *I also wrote down what time I took any medication, because again, you won’t remember a whole lot in that first week or two*
  • Hand sanitizer: I felt like I had this all over the house. With a newborn I wanted to sanitize all the time and so it was just natural to have it in my breastfeeding kit too!
  • Mints: I loved having mints to eat because it was a little pick-me-up when I was trying my hardest to stay awake for a feeding.

These are my recommendations to create a breastfeeding survival kit! Just remember, that breastfeeding is challenging in the beginning while you and baby get into the swing of things, but if it is what you want then just hang in there because it gets so much better, I promise!!!

To any breastfeeding mamas out there, was there something that you loved having in close reach for feeding with your newborn?