Warning: This is about breasts. Now, men, before you tune out: when was the last time you tuned out to something with “boobies” in the title, hmmph? You might just learn something here. And even if you don’t, did I mention BOOBIES!
Tonight I took a breastfeeding class. What I really want to say is that breastfeeding sounds like a pain in the ass. But I know that’s not the right thing to say. I know that there are many benefits to breastfeeding for both the woman and baby. I know it’s the natural and right thing to do. So what I really should say instead is that breastfeeding is a lot of hard work – but work that’s worth it.
Work, however, that still looks like a big pain … in the breasts.
I walk in to find another room full of pregnant women. My people. Let me say that if you are pregnant and having some body image issues, hang around other pregnant women. All day I am by myself or with fit athletes and find myself more and more in moments of…
I AM HUGE.
Not so when you are with other pregnant women. Especially if they are farther along than you. Especially if the woman next to you is….
Feeling like the skinny bitch (when pregnant, you take this feeling while you can because all it takes is a trip to the gym to feel like the whale), I soon realized that I actually lose because in the room there were only two of us that were not accompanied by a spouse. I told Chris that he didn’t need to join me at this class but in retrospect I wish he had been there. The more he knows, the better he’ll be prepared. And, besides…
We’re talking full on boobie baby porn. The class started with a video – WITH NO DIALECT - showing explicit pictures of baby and breast. Baby taking the breast. Mommy squeezing the breast. The breast! The breast! Oh my god! I just wanted to stop looking at nipples and breasts. Like I’ve said before, when pregnant these are not the breasts you are looking for.
THIS IS NOT SEXY.
Next up we practiced holding and feeding the baby. Each mommy to be was given a baby all wrapped up in a blanket with a mouth wide open ready to feed. It took me about 10 tries to imitate the holding pattern that the instructor was doing. If this was a real baby, its head would have rolled off by then. Then, we had to position the baby close to our breasts. And help the baby to feed.
Here I am thinking this is all hypothetical. Pretend play in the land of let’s make believe we all have babies already. Then I look around. And realize that everyone in the class except for me is touching their breast with a U-hold and squeezing.
What to do what to do what to do. I CAVED! Call it peer pressure but no sooner was my hand in a U-shape when I may or may not have touched my breast. And then I felt the need to hide under the table and wash my hands.
Burp the baby. I don’t know what happened next. I had my baby sitting up and was trying to burp it when – it fell over! And tumbled to the floor! I was so embarrassed. And not very confident in myself – I just wounded the plastic doll. When I got home, we realized that we forgot to give Boss his dinner kibble. Dogs, dolls = FAIL! How am I going to manage a live child? HOW!?
We then got into a throwdown of Boppy vs. My Breast Friend. My Breast Friend is declared the winner because the baby can fall through the Boppy (oh, my nonpregnant friends, I throw these ridiculous terms around but just you wait and see…it will only be a matter of time before you too walk into a store and ask another adult where you can find the Boppy or My Breast Friend without getting eyed suspiciously and possibly arrested).
Did you know there is more than one way to touch your breast? I am sorry if this disgusts you but…this is how infants feed! The breast is their lifeline. There is a C-touch and a U-touch to express milk from yourself. To demonstrate, the instructor brought out a boob puppet.
It was even more frightening than the placenta puppet. And yes, it was anatomically correct.
I felt ridiculous sitting in a room learning how to use my own breasts. Think about it – does a man ever have to sit in a class to learn to use his own penis? No. The breasts need a manual. An entire folder filled with packets, crisis lines, support groups, accessory flyers, special nurses to show you how to use them. The breast is...high maintenance!
Actually, they require very little “true” maintenance. Like your oven, they are self-cleaning with special glands. Which means women have the advantage. Last I heard, the penis is NOT self-cleaning.
Nursing clothes were passed around. Bras, nightgowns, pads, a whole line of accessories. And how fun is a breast cape? Better yet, how fun is it that someone already bought one for me? On days where I need to tap into my superhero identity I just might run around wearing the cape and nothing else while shouting to the world that I have gone batshitcrazy!
I have a feeling that after July 28th – that might be every day.
There’s a lot of philosophies about feeding out there. I imagine all that matters is what your baby wants and needs. But the class gave a lot of good guidelines. Feed as often as the baby wants to feed. This might be every hour or every 3 hours. There is no right or wrong amount of time. However, the baby needs to feed about 10 times a day. 24 hours in a day – you do the math. That means every 2 hours or so, you’re likely feeding. Considering it takes about 20 minutes to empty your breasts, another how many minutes to burp and then settle them down that gives me about 10 x 20 minutes a day to shower – eat – work and take a crap.
IF I'M LUCKY.
The instructor also suggested for the first 3 to 4 weeks not to supplement with pacifiers or bottles. That way your milk supply comes in as it needs to. This is also to avoid Nipple Confusion (true condition, also can happen to very drunk men, I know, sometimes I crack my own batshit up too). Bottom line is that for the first 4 weeks of baby’s life you will be a nonstop milk maid. She also mentioned that even if daddy gets up at night to take a feeding, you still have to get up and pump your darn breasts because they will continue to fill at the rate which the baby normally feeds.
This is probably how you might find yourself laying in bed at 4 am totally engorged with cold cabbage leaves stuck to your breasts.
Pumping your breasts. After seeing the different types of pumps, the instructor explained how they worked. I gathered that I might as well chain the pump to my ankle if I ever plan to leave the house again. Pump before you leave, pump if you’re out longer than 3 hours, pump after feedings just to have some back up milk you can freeze. It became clear that for 6 months – maybe more – I will be nothing but two breasts. Which got me to thnking….
I’m going to need to hire someone to be on boobie support. Anyone? There’s a lot that needs to be done! The damn pump has at least 5 detachable parts that need to be cleaned. And then all that packaging the milk, freezing and thawing? By the time I clean the baby, feed the baby and then clean the pump I might not leave my house for…the next 18 years.
But at least that’s about 18 years sooner than the woman who’s having twins. I win!
I left the class having a little bit of a meltdown. But like I told Chris when I got home, I’d rather crap my pants now in a moment of HOW AM I GOING TO DO THIS than to have that same feeling while I am sore, bleeding, hormonal and with the baby in my arms after delivery. At least I have the illusion of being prepared for something you can never be prepared for, you can never know enough about and really has no right or wrong way.
Did you know that the average time to breastfeed in most countries is 3 to 4 years? Yet in the United States, most women feed for 6 to 12 months. We value independence and, honestly, we value convenience. I can see how many women choose not to breastfeed because damn it’s inconvenient. I even found myself thinking – maybe I don’t want to do this. But the instructor told us to set small goals. Tell yourself to get through a week. Then a few weeks. Then a few months. And maybe you’ll get to an entire year. That’s a language I can understand. Small steps add up to bigger success.
My Breast Friend, a Medela pump, a cape, a tube of lanolin. Am I forgetting something?
The baby. DAMMIT the baby! HOW am I going to remember all of this? Which is EXACTLY why I need a boobie support staff. Full-time position. Paid. No prior experience necessary.