10 (Mildly Shallow) Reasons To Breastfeed

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Reasons To Breastfeed

I breastfeed my kids. I’m passionate about it. I’m righteous about it. But I’m not entirely honest about it.

I advertise that I do it for the heartfelt and health-related reasons we’ve all heard from other moms and pediatricians a bazillion times. But come on. If there weren’t also some hardcore mama-centric reasons to let my kid nibble on my nips for a year, I’d never be able to endure the insane commitment. These are the reasons that see me through the worst breastfeeding days and get me to hang in there when I want to bail. They’re pretty damn shallow, but whatever. They get the job done. Need some reasons to breastfeed, too?

1. Milk boobs are awesome. Have you seen milk boobs? The new-mom, my-milk-just-came-in(!!) boobs? They’re glorious. They’re porn star glorious except they’re REAL. They’ll make even the staunchest feminist reconsider her rabid stance on breast augmentation. These fabulous tits were a fabulous surprise after my first child, and a highly anticipated perk (for both my husband and me) after my second.

2. I don’t have to work out. My baby weight lost itself because breastfeeding burns 500-800 calories A DAY. Even my best workout when I was in my twenties and maintaining a hot college body to bring the boys to the yard didn’t burn 800 calories. How crazy would I be to opt out of something that burns a shitload of calories while I sit on my ass, snuggling my baby, in my thirties?

3. I don’t feel remotely guilty about what I eat. I need to replace the calories nursing burns otherwise my milk production decreases dramatically. So heeeelllllloooo, Smashburger. Thank you for contributing to the cause of better infantile nutrition. And yes, I would like a salted-caramel shake with that. It’s all in the name of milk production.

4. I can’t forget my breasts when I leave the house. I’ve forgotten diapers, clothes, blankets, binkies, the stroller, the entire diaper bag after spending 20 minutes packing it, and even the friggen baby, but I’ve never forgotten milk. If you don’t have kids, having one less thing to remember as you herd your family out the door may not seem significant. If you do have kids, you know how significant it is.

5. I get guaranteed breaks during crappy social functions. It is completely acceptable to excuse yourself from a party to nurse your child in private. Even though I don’t really care about privacy, I sometimes take advantage of this understanding to avoid awkward acquaintances and annoying relatives and go play Angry Birds or check Facebook for awhile.

6. Aunt Flo goes on sabbatical. Thanks to breastfeeding, I made it 50 weeks sans Aunt Flo after my daughter was born. My son just turned one and I’m still waiting for her return. If you count her absence during my pregnancy, I haven’t seen her in nearly 2 years. TWO YEARS. I don’t miss that bitch at all.

7. I can instantly comfort my screaming baby without having to troubleshoot the actual problem. Sometimes I’m too tired or busy to try to figure out what the baby is crying about, so I just nurse him. Nine times out of 10, shoving a boob in his mouth calms him down immediately. Note: This also works with his father.

8. I can have unprotected sex for 6 months. When done correctly, breastfeeding is an effective form of birth control up to the baby’s 6-month birthday. So no hormones for me, and no condoms for my husband, for 6 months. Like I said though, you have to do it right or you end up with Irish twins. Like my parents did. D’oh.

9. Breast milk poop smells a hell of a lot better than formula poop. I have to change a lot of disgusting poopy diapers, so if anything can make them less disgusting, I’m in. Breast milk poop smells, but it doesn’t stink. Not like formula shit. I found this out firsthand when changing a friend’s formula-fed baby. I thought something died in her diaper. I almost called Animal Control.

10. When my kids have kids, I can hold it over their heads that when they were babies, I did everything right and know everything. The extreme commitment and effort of breastfeeding lends a lot of credibility to the future backseat parenting of my grandchildren.

The Joys of Weaning

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happy baby

My baby is 12 months old. He’s eating more food (and more food and more food…he’s like a starving teenage runaway) and nursing less. Thus, our breastfeeding relationship will soon come to an end. It’s a happy/sad time. I like breastfeeding, but I also like a lot of things that I give up or regulate to do it. Like being alone for more than 4 hours at a time, and not having to plan my vices around the baby’s eating schedule. So, I shall celebrate his weaning day by indulging in some of the things I’ve missed. Huzzah! I will:

1. Sleep past 6am. Even if the baby lets me sleep in, my boobs don’t. When the clock strikes 6am, the girls let me know. Sleeping over. Must relieve pressure immediately. Must feed baby, pump, or suffer in bed as I pretend I’ll fall back to sleep. Sometimes I do all three. I can’t wait to do none.

2. Jump my husband’s bones. Remember how in 10 (Mildly Shallow) Reasons to Breastfeed I bragged about having unprotected sex for baby’s first 6 months ? (Side note: tons of people called out my claim that exclusive breastfeeding can be a reliable form of birth control. Google “lactational amenorrhea” and you’ll see I’m not full of it). I could’ve, but most days I didn’t want to. Even the thrilling and naughty prospect of unprotected sex wasn’t generally enough to get me going. Still now, in baby’s second 6 months, I’m seldom raring to go. Thanks largely to breastfeeding, I’m too tired from being at his beck and call night and day, my estrogen levels are pathetically low thus so is my libido, and after having the boy attached to my boobs all day, I’m not often in the mood for his father to take his place there. Or anywhere. In other words, breastfeeding is my sex life’s assassin. But after my daughter was weaned, it was like Spring Break in my bedroom for a month. In other words, weaning is the assassin’s assassin.

3. Put my pump in the dustiest, darkest corner of the attic. I have a love-hate relationship with my pump. Mostly hate. So I’ll banish it to the attic and forget about it until I either have a third child and begrudgingly dig it back out, or admit to myself that I’m not having a third child and gleefully give it away.

4. Have coffee and margaritas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Because I finally won’t have to plan excessive caffeine and cocktail consumption around when the baby needs to nurse.

5. Buy all new bras. Milk boobs are glorious but post-milk boobs are not. I haven’t been lingerie shopping in ages, so I’ll perk up my ta-tas and myself by buying all new, super-flattering, inappropriately sexy MILF bras.

6.Run 5 hours of uninterrupted errands. I’ve nursed and pumped in plenty of parking lots because I was delusional and thought I could squeeze a week’s worth of errands in between feedings. It’s pretty awkward when security knocks on your car window to make sure you’re not casing the jewelry store you’ve been parked in front of for 30 minutes. It’s even more awkward when your breasts are out or there is a tiny, disembodied hand sticking out from beneath your shirt.

7. Take medicine for no good reason. Unless I’m at Death’s door and my doctor specifically approves, I do not take medicine when breastfeeding. But oh how I miss it when I have a headache or feel like crap on a stick. I will thus indulge in the analgesic bliss of modern medicine for even the most minor pain and tolerable physical discomforts.

8. Complain about missing breastfeeding. Awwww/groan. Yes, breastfeeding makes me tired and sexually apathetic, and it can be a total pain in the tush. But it’s also regularly scheduled bonding time with one of my favorite people on the planet. What’s not to miss about that?

10 Things to Savor About Breastfeeding

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breastfeeding

I have been very lucky. I have had the choice to breastfeed all of my children. Not everyone has the choice; not everyone wants the choice. But, though I have had my own share of hurdles in the adventure that is motherhood, nursing is something that has been relatively easy and effortless for me. Not painless, mind you, but mostly free from the trials that some women face.

Some days, I need to remember why I choose to breastfeed at all. Those are the days when I feel like if another tiny human touches me again, I might scream. They are the days when my breasts are sore and cry out for a week without a bra on 24/7 or any sucking action whatsoever, whether by baby or pump. Some days, I would do anything in my power just to wear a normal Le Mystere instead of my saggy, uncomfortable nursing bra.

But I know that in another six months, when I am beginning to wean my very last baby, I won’t remember the gruesome details so much. The experience will already be part of my memories, and after four babies, my memory itself is unreliable. I have approximately two brain cells left now, I am convinced, and they are needed in their entirety to walk straight and drive the car. So before the Mommy Amnesia sets in, here are ten things I will miss about nursing my babies, though please note that these things are not breastfeeding-exclusive. They just happen to be the things I think of when I think about nursing…

1. The quiet moments of nursing, the forced time to sit and be still. As a parent, stillness is not only rare; it is luxurious. I savor the time I can claim just to sit or lie down with the baby and be together, focused on her. After four babies, I have mastered the art of walking while nursing, but I try not to practice that skill. The chance to hit the “pause” button — even now, when it is definitely complicated to do so in the midst of three other children and the rush of daily life — is too precious.

2. Lying beside the baby and feeling her little feet and tiny toes flex rhythmically against my stomach or leg while she nurses. I love those dainty toes connecting with me. Too soon, her body will be long and lanky, like her brothers’. She won’t be the chunky ball of wonderful rolls and curves that she is now. I bury my face in her sweet cheeks and scrumptious neck while I still can.

3. Bright eyes looking up at me, and the way she stops and stares at me quizzically all of a sudden, like she just noticed I was there too. It takes her so by surprise that she stops nursing for a moment and just looks at me, locking my eyes with hers. When she was tiny, she stared for a second, then continued to nurse, though slowly, like she was taking me all in or making sure that I was something she was okay with having right above her head. Now that she is older, she will stop, pause, and sometimes break into a big, milky, gummy smile. It is tough to hold a latch when smiling. Those gummy smiles are the sweetest.

4. The chance to stroke soft little cheeks and tufted wisps of baby hair, the smell of soap and milk together.

5. The baby sometimes balls her fists up and holds them so they are together, as if this act of nursing takes all her concentration and might.

6. When those teeny-tiny hands stroke and fidget while she nurses. She loves me, and she doesn’t even know what love is yet.

7. The way she bobs her head from side to side when she is preparing to latch, stretching her lips and wildly searching for her target like a baby animal. It’s a little scary seeing that coming for my breasts, but it’s also cute.

8. Dozing off beside a nursing baby, waking up to a baby asleep with her chin on my breast. In a few short years, will that little face really tell me in a fit of anger that I’m not her best friend anymore, like her brothers did? How will I ever send that face off to Kindergarten to be cared for someone else for the majority of her waking hours?

9. The feeling of being her homebase. There is not much in a baby’s world that cannot be solved or soothed by nursing. In so much of parenting, I feel a little helpless. In contrast, nursing is like holding a superpower. I know that as time marches on, my baby’s little problems will become the bigger problems of bigger kids. I know too well. I’ll miss the ability to create world peace for her with just a simple gesture.

10. Most of all, the baby I am nursing. In no time at all, she’ll be running after her brothers and leaving me behind. I’ll get to wear my proper bra and drink a beer guilt-free, and my breasts will dry up and once again look like tube socks half-filled with uncooked rice. But I will never have my baby back again. And that will be all right and as it should be, but that does not mean I won’t miss her.

15 Things They Don’t Tell You About Breastfeeding

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Ready for Sleep

Maybe you’ve attended a breastfeeding class, seen the pamphlets in your doctor’s office, or done your research online. Whatever the case may be, you’ve no doubt seen the nutritional superiority of breast milk, that you will lose post-baby pounds faster, and read about the blissful bonding experience with your soon-to-be baby. But here are 15 things they don’t tell you about breastfeeding…

1. It hurts. Like a thousand little knives twisting off your nipple every time your baby latches—and you’ll obsess endlessly over that tiny latch!

2. Your new baby will want to nurse 24/7. They said nursing burns calories? What they don’t tell you is that you really lose the weight because you won’t have time to eat!

3. Actually, she’ll keep nursing way past when you think the well has run dry and you’ll wonder if it’s her intention to suck your soul out of your nipples.

4. At some point, you’ll become jealous that your partner doesn’t have a set of boobs. Why did women get the biological short stick? Why does he get to keep drinking? If anyone deserves a stiff cocktail, it’s you!

5. You’ll feel short-changed. All that glowing literature didn’t adequately express how hard it is to be at the beck and call of the world’s tiniest and crankiest drill sergeant.

6. You bet women in Zimbabwe don’t sit around talking about how “bonded” breastfeeding makes them feel. They just feed the baby. Period. Formula is looking awfully good right about now.

7. Even after you supplement your baby with formula (which your mother claimed would help her sleep better), she’s rooting for you in less than 45 minutes.

8. You’ll cry when the pediatrician says that formula isn’t toxic and it’s not a bad alternative. Really you’d cry for anything right now; it’s been 72 hours since you last slept.

9. You’ll cry when baby takes to formula too much. Isn’t this your job as a woman, you failure?

10. When your partner asks you why you complain about breast feeding so much, you’ll be tempted to leap off the couch and twist his nipple off while screaming, “How you like that!?!” But you don’t, because you still haven’t been given clearance to exercise.

11. You’ll try pumping and despair when you only collect half an ounce on each side. That’s enough to keep your little monster quiet for ten minutes.

12. One day, you’ll wonder if you’ve showered and brushed your teeth yet. It’s 6:00 PM.

13. Nursing covers are a scam–a waste of money and fabric. Your baby screams and sweats under it making you feel like the worst mommy ever for trying to avoid flashing the entire mall.

14But you’re tough. And you’re stubborn. And you can do it.

15. And if you don’t, or can’t, the world will not come to an end. Even a little.

10 Reasons Weaning Really Sucks

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10 Reasons Weaning Really Sucks

I literally worked my ta-tas off to earn my breastfeeding badge. There were times I thought I might cave under the pressure that comes with being the food, but this one woman dairy has managed to kept the factory in production for two babies, about a year and a half each. My mammaries stuck by me through mastitis, norovirus and the healing of a nipple, partially severed by bite. After paying dues like that, it’s hard to believe I’ll actually miss the whole thing. But I will. Because…

1. I don’t feel as important. Technically, any yahoo off the street can now do my job.

2. I can’t boob the baby back to sleep when she wakes up at o’dark thirty, thinking it’s morning.

3. The post-lactation moment of truth: arrival at ultimate breast shape, size and consistency. (Bye-bye, boobies.)

4. I have to give up chocolate chips as a food group, now that no one is sucking excess calories from my body.

5. The new clothes I bought for my post-baby body, don’t fit my post-nursing body. (See chocolate chips.)

6. No more excusing myself from a room I don’t want to be in, by claiming I have to nurse.

7. Now that I am no longer her personal milk fountain, the baby has noticed I’m not as cool as Daddy.

8. I have to prepare actual food for the kid.

9. I thought I was reclaiming all rights to my body, but my husband is standing by, ready to affix ‘Property Of’ stickers to what is left of my chest.

10. My baby is growing up. This was happening the whole time, but without breast milk to take the edge off, it stings a lot more.