Welcome to breastfeeding class! You are here because you want to learn about a healthy, natural way to feed your baby. Good job, moms!
Let’s see from a show of hands how many of you read a book or watched a show about breastfeeding, or talked to a friend or family member who nursed their child?
Now put up your other hand. You’re showing me the international symbol of surrender. That’s exactly what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your breastfeeding life.
You took that fateful step across the precipice of sanity with your birth-ravaged, post-partum body and woefully under-rested mind to avoid things like “nipple confusion” and “bottle dependency” by refusing formula at the hospital.
To sacrifice yourself and be a hero!
And at this breastfeeding class two will enter, one will leave, as you and your baby become one — connected at your raw, unrecognizable nipples.
- Engorgement: Breasts that feel like twelve-pound bowling balls.
- Blebs: Blisters in places where no blisters have gone before.
- Nipple Vasospasms: Painful loss of circulation.
- And the big one: Mastitis, or as we like to call it, “Puss Boob.”
These are just some of the traps that will ensnare you. All part of your journey into the maternal abyss — oozing and feverish, hungry and exhausted.
Now, let’s talk about nursing position. Your back should be straight, arms supported at all times, feet elevated, knees at right angles, your baby perpendicular to your nursing side, levitating on an unwieldy amount of pillows and supports, baby’s back horizontally level with the ground, attached in perfect unison with your nipple, sun pointing in your eyes — never in your baby’s.
You’ll know you’re doing things right if you start crying uncontrollably after getting in position. Don’t worry though, the crying will taper off as you start to normalize this new reality.
Madeline’s mother asked about self-care for nursing mothers. Easy question! There is no self-care.
You and your child will become one amorphous ur-baby. You will eat, sleep, bathe, and use the toilet around the venerable feeding schedule. And when you spend six hours sitting in one spot nursing the baby through a growth spurt, you will think about your “self-care” question and laugh. Laugh from pure exhaustion! Laugh from the hilarious existential confusion!
What is the “self” anymore? Whose purpose do you serve on this earth, now? Can you even claim your feelings and needs, or do they all stem from The Baby?
But one day you’ll figure out how to take a shower and get out of the house with your child. Maybe you’ll go to the park, seeking stimulation from other human beings, and you’ll see a new mother there, trying to nurse her two-month-old.
Congratulate her on her choice, maybe brag about how long you’ve been nursing. Compliment her nursing blanket. Lie to her about the impending doom of her breastfeeding path. Maybe set up a playdate for your two babies so you can suffer together.
Although, if you do get tired of nursing, and decide to fight against our society’s desire for mothers to shoulder unsustainable burdens by sacrificing their bodies, minds, livelihoods, and interpersonal relationships to nurse their babies, you can switch to formula. But I’m warning you: you’re gonna feel like a quitter!
Okay, next class will be devoted to nursing bras. Be sure to bring your pre-maternity bras to class because you’ll need something to cry into.