13 April 2010

Quasimodo geniti

Here's something I wish someone had told me before my first baby was born: you can't nurse a newborn under a blanket. Depending on the skill level of the newborn, you may not be able to nurse a newborn wearing much at all. Even the ones who know what they're doing don't know that well. They have to be helped and watched. You'll have to add your neck and back and arms to your Sore list (even though I suppose you "shouldn't"). There's no holding a book in the other hand or carrying on a conversation for at least the first week or two, and not much for the first month. Those visions of picnics at the park or hanging out with everyone who comes to meet the new baby while Baby happily nurses away under the culturally mandatory blanket will happen, but not at first.

This is one way the postpartum experience is completely different for nursing moms than for formula moms, and probably a big reason many people give up. It is so lonely. And it's the hardest for first time moms, who are having to learn their end of it in addition to teaching the baby, and likely to be at home alone all day.

BUT--absolutely worth gutting it out.

27 comments:

Ewe said...

I just had a friend have a baby in a big city and she was able to go to breastfeeding classes set up by her health insurance-a room full of new moms and their babies with lactation consultants. She talked about how wonderful it was to take the baby out, get some socialization with adults, and also get help. I didn't even know anything like that existed in my sheltered rural area. I knew about LLL (even though LLL is 3 hours away from me), but I think it is wonderful that the health insurance tries to help new moms.

Untamed Shrew said...

Yes, none of mine have been content to suffocate under a blanket/wrap/shawl/whathaveyou. Those bottles of formula are "out there", and they truly make me uncomfortable, so I look away and try to assume the best of the mother.

I'd just be ever so grateful if this next one will take a paci.

Katy said...

And no one tells you how messy it is as everyone involved learns. The only time I cried over breastfeeding was with my first. It wasn't because it hurt or because of latching problems--it was because it was the middle of July and me and my side of the bed and the baby were soaked with milk. I knew (from experience) that as soon as I cleaned up baby and me I'd have to start all over. And did I mention it was about 90 degrees in the middle of the night?

I think staying in bed the first two weeks pp is a good idea, IF you can find a full-time housekeeper/babysitter/personal maid. I have not found such a person :)

Finally, we're not too particular about blankets, bebe au lait aprons, etc., around the house. But I learned from my second born that I need to train the little wiggles when they're older. Otherwise, when in public the blankets whip off (and usually at an embarrassing moment, like when everyone's looking at me).

But, as Rebekah said, it's totally worth it. My babies always start "talking" (soft ah-ah-ahhing) and making sustained contact while at the breast.

Gauntlets said...

Katy: I totally had that milk soaking problem with my first, too. It's like everything anyone ever told me about amounts was completely, absolutely WRONG. Huh.

I finally learned the key to keeping the milk in the baby and my sheets dry, but I still haven't figured out how to nurse in public. :P

Katy said...

*sustained eye contact :)

Susan K said...

So true. It's so challenging at the beginning, and I was tempted a few times to whip out the formula. It involves so much commitment, but I'm already finding it completely worth it with a 3-month-old nursing pro. The Hooter Hider was essential at first and just handy now.

Gauntlets said...

Susan: Yes, that first three months is really, really hard, and it is so for each baby. It's like reading Shakespeare, you know? You have to get at least 30 pages in before you really understand what's going on. :D

Marie said...

And, after you get the hang of it, by then, the baby is too smart to let you read, and will grab the book out of your hand=)

Marie said...

Also, I'd rather spend $20 on a cute nursing top than buying a fancy cover-up. If you're not wearing a blanket, I don't think most passers-by even notice a mama is nursing. I cringe when I see those cover-ups, because, though the heart of that mama is right, it makes us who choose not to cover up look like we're "flaunting" it.

Any thoughts?

Rebekah said...

Shrew, I also totally don't get why people don't find bottles offensive.

Marie, I have a HH-style cover I use (I made it myself for somewhere between $5-10, and only that much because I splurged on fabric). I think it makes other people more comfortable, and that makes me feel less like I should just disappear completely when I feed the baby. Ideally, it would be no big deal, but this here world just isn't ideal. I don't think anyone who doesn't use one is flaunting it, and I've even gotten so irritable about the whole topic that I appreciate those who do flaunt it, because that's probably the only way to get things to change. But I have hangups so somebody else is going to have to do it. :P

Gauntlets said...

Oh, I just think this topic is so great.

I can't find any cute nursing tops. Well, really, I can't look cute in any nursing tops. They're all just so, nursing top on me. But I can't really get my HH thing to work either, though I love it and I love the person who made it for me.

My problem in life is that I'm really too stupid to live.

However, I have a local acquaintance who has no qualms about everyone on Earth seeing her feeder things. She's great. Her boldness makes up for all my timidity, I think, in the cosmic tally of things.

Glenda said...

I remember all those thoughts and feelings and wet clothes and beds.

I honestly can't remember which of my kids nursed under a blanket and which ones wouldn't.

I do remember being quite thankful to have a nursing baby to get me out of situations I didn't want to be in and/or give me enough time to go be by myself with nursing baby, to cry or sigh or just gather my "company self" back together before facing "the world" again.

Good luck, ladies, I'm there with ya in spirit. I'm cheerin ya on, prayin and pullin for ya as you walk the motherhood path.

Rebekah said...

Glenda, you rock. Thanks.

Feeder thingies! Boon! LMBO!!!!

Reb. Mary said...

Everything in a 3-ft radius got soaked whenever my firstborn nursed (or cried, for that matter). Supply and demand...it just didn't work quite like economics class.

I felt most left out of things with the first. By #3, I figured out that not getting to sit down and eat with everybody (because Baby was invariably screamingly ravenous the instant I set supper on the table, no matter how I tried to arrange the schedule) meant that sometimes I GOT TO SIT AND EAT ALL BY MYSELF, QUIETLY, after everyone else had moved on out of the kitchen. Not so bad. And like Glenda, I found that a nursing baby can be a handyish excuse to run off to another room for a little recombobulation time.

Reb. Mary said...

ps those beatific, non-contorted, completely contented pix of moms and their nursing newborns in lamaze-type magazines can still make me quite angry :P

Jody S. said...

I think I must be one of those "no qualms" folks. It's funny that I feel really uncomfortable with low-cut tops, but have no problem pulling my shirt up:) And I've not had a baby yet who tolerates being covered up. But I do attempt to be discreet, and I find that a blanket under the baby (to cover up my belly and side) gives me a better chance to keep my shirt in position so you can still see baby. . . but nothing else. Well, unless somebody comes right up and wants to play with the baby while s/he is eating.

I know there are those out there who think nursing mothers are just trying to show off their feminine assets (yes, somebody had a problem with my sister once because of this), but I think that things are changing since more people become comfortable with nursing vs. bottlefeeding.

MooreMama said...

"I can't find any cute nursing tops. Well, really, I can't look cute in any nursing tops. They're all just so, nursing top on me."

^^ That. and the parts about the baby that didn't like to be covered. and the ones about nursing being recombobulating time.

I have a nifty cover to try this time, but I'm not really worried about whether it works or not. No one comes to my house anyway, and the people whose houses we go to either a) would be more comfortable if I nursed in another room or b) don't mind if I accidentally show some feeder bit while latching, so it's a moot point. If we're Out In Public Out-Of-Town, we just nurse in the car before going in. (DH has gotten MUCH more comfy with this - he used to feel like he had to stand on guard). I have nursed (sans cover) in a couple of resteraunts, after knowing that dinnertime was coming up and that nursing in the bathroom is just ... not going to happen, I just asked for a booth away from the crowd. :)

I sort of dare someone to say something to me, but in 14 months of nursing the Big Sister, no one did.

lisa said...

"and the people whose houses we go to either a) would be more comfortable if I nursed in another room or b) don't mind if I accidentally show some feeder bit while latching"

That's how it works out for me usually.

If there are men around who would be totally uncomfortable (especially elderly men, unmarried men or men who don't "get" "normal" family chaos) I go to another room. Women I subject to what's easiest for me at that moment.

If in the home of another family, I try to gauge it and hope that the wife loves me enough as a Christian to tell me if I'm irritating her or scandalizing her household. As a rule, I try to avoid nursing when the husband's around, but have had the occasional conversation with a dad during modest non-nursing-cover nursing bc the dad was a dad and totally didn't care. He knew my baby was hungry.

My nursing isn't a statement. It's a necessity for the health of my babe. I honestly don't get why many folks don't assume the best when a little feeder bit shows and assume that I am totally mortified and REALLY wished that the baby had waited till we were home in the first place. I mean, really, I don't want people to be subjected to my flab, feeders or struggling. I just want a happy baby.

Susan K said...

Shrew, I also totally don't get why people don't find bottles offensive.

Yeah, really! If feeding your baby as nature intends is indecent, what does that say about bottles??

Has anyone tried nursing in a sling? I'm starting to find that it might be possible, but it still seems awkward. It does seem like a good way to be discreet without having to be too sneaky.

Melissa said...

I want to be the person who will just nurse her baby anytime, anywhere because I really think people just need to get over it. But I'm not, partly because as a homebody/introvert I enjoy the excuse to stay home/escape from the party. And partly because I'm not that confrontational with the men in my husband's family. (Surprisingly, the men in my family have no qualms about it!)

I have been very blessed that my babies aren't the type for ridiculously frequent nursing, so by the time they are ready to nurse I'm more than ready to get away. I have a serious distaste for playing "pass the baby" and "take the baby from mom". My tastes are much more along the lines of "my baby - stay away." I totally use nursing as a sanity saver, because me, postpartum hormones and people don't mix.

I have always felt for moms who had more of a need for company, or babies who were semi-permanently latched-on, though!

Rebekah said...

Susan, I got a sling that advertised how great it was for nursing. Then I realized it would only work if I also had a nursing top. I think. Or maybe I was just too dumb to see how it was supposed to work. Anyway, I've never even tried to nurse in a sling or carrier because although I now own a countless multitude of them, the logistics made no sense.

Katy said...

I nurse sometimes in a sling (baby's in the sling, not me :) I would never do it in public. Baby's upright, back of head supported by sling. Baby and I figured this out one day when I was busy and he was pecking franctically. I made sure all shades were pulled (it was evening). Baby likes it, but it can be uncomfortable for me, especially when he falls asleep and I can't snap my bra and adjust my shirt w/o waking him....

Gauntlets said...

I've nursed a baby in sort-of public with a sling before. We were on a touristy waterfront, and it was a cargo-variety sling--the kind that has since been recalled. The nursing wasn't ideal--it was a hot day and the baby wasn't keen on keeping her head tucked neatly inside the sling and I hate everything--but it beat a sharp stick in the eye.

Anonymous said...

Practice, practice and then practice... after nursing 13 it became a second nature in public.
I have nursed in a sling..... once while shopping in Sam's Club..... a little old lady came up and said what do you have in there and pulled back the sling there was baby nursing away.... she was more embarrassed than me. She said "Oh, he's eating - who would have guessed."
I also nursed on an airplane baby #13 when he was 7 1/2 months old. When the plane landed a man stopped by my seat and said "Lady I don't know what you did to keep that baby quiet the whole trip but you should market it!" If he only knew.

Lot's of times I would turn my back on a room full of people until baby was latched on and then turn back around with a blanket over my shoulder.
I have always nursed in church. Sitting up front in a Lutheran Church is a plus everyone else is sitting in the back.
....but you are right every baby is different. #13 was a big challenge for me and I had nursed 12 before and I was a breastfeeding consultant for 15 yrs. but it took a while for baby to learn and mom to relearn - every time is a new learning experience.
I wouldn't trade breastfeeding memories for anything though. I never owned a bottle. My 30 years of nursing were some of the best years of my life.
Debbie Stottlemyer

Untamed Shrew said...

I recently nursed a 15-mo on a plane. It was far better than having her go insane, wanting to get out. I'm sure a few noticed what I was doing, but what do I care? I'm never going to see these people again in this life.


I also am a front-pew sitter. And I don't use a blanket, because that only advertises what I'm doing. We latch on during the sermon hymn when everyone should be looking at their hymnals, then I've at least got one kid still and quiet through the sermon. Now that the ex utero baby is 17 mos, I absolutely refuse to nurse in church. This makes life challenging.

I'm one of those whose babies are semi-permanently latched on, and I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I know so many moms whose babies nurse 5-10 minutes, and then are done for 2-3 hours. I want to know what that's like. All of my babes have taken 20 minutes of every hour, even at 6 months old.

Jody S. said...

Untamed Shrew,

Me, too. I have marathon nursers. I feel like I'm always at it. But I know that it is just in the range of normal. Our babies are just that way. Hang in there! (And enjoy having an excuse for somebody else to change the poopy toddler!)

As for church, I am also in the front. If I didn't nurse in church, I would never be able to be in church. I cut my children off from nursing in church a few months before the next baby is born. While I have tandem nursed at home, that just is NOT happening in church as there is no way to be modest about that one.

MooreMama said...

LIsa is in my head. Everything she said - me, too.

Untamed Shrew - My MIL was ridiculously frustrated because no matter when she came over to see "our baby" (don't get me started on that one), she was doing well to get 15-20 minutes of play time before the baby was either hungry or sleepy. Well, that would be because of the 2 hour stretches that she was awake, she was attached for a good hour of that. (shrug)

I really hope that New Addition is a more efficiant nurser. Or that Big Sister somehow develops a bit of patience...