When I was preggers with J, I took the class Breastfeeding 101; where they teach you how to breastfeed using a stuffed boob and a plastic baby doll. (Like somehow that actually relates.) They also show you lots of pictures of other women with their little one perfectly suckled onto their full bosom. This class makes it look so easy. What they don’t show you is the cracked and bleeding nipples, the bloody pink milk, and the sheer number of random strangers who will be privy to your used-to-be-private parts. Needless to say the class didn’t do much other than show us a bunch of pictures of boobies and babies. It doesn’t matter how many times you practice the correct latch with that plastic baby or stuffed boob – it ain’t gonna translate. So, here’s some things that breastfeeding class should teach you instead:
Lesson #1: Full Exposure
With the number of random boobies you will see in a breastfeeding class, it should be your first hint at how many total strangers will see, grab, and massage your boobs the moment that your little one makes their appearance from your other previously private area. Especially if this is your first baby, get used to the idea that you will have nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, your husband, and probably even your mother “helping” you to get that baby latched correctly. And by helping, I mean invading your personal boob bubble. Don’t worry, you will be so focused on your new little miracle that you won’t even notice how many people have now seen your ta ta’s.
Lesson #2: Full Time Job
I hope you didn’t plan on leaving the house, showering, or ever leaving the couch for the first few weeks. While it’s really awesome to spend all that time with your new little snuggle bunny, you will soon learn that breastfeeding is a full-time job in itself. Those little piggies want to be fed (what seems like) constantly. Yes, they sleep and poop too, but I swear the “eat” part of the equation accounts for at least 75% of their daily routine.
Lesson #3: Get Out
Once you get past the first few weeks, you’ll eventually fall into more of a routine. You’ll hopefully have the latch part down, and you won’t feel like your nipples are about to fall off anymore. Now it’s time to finally venture out of the house. Since you haven’t left your couch for the last 14 days, you’ll be desperate to see the outside world. But seeing as how you’ve gotten used to your routine of feeding your little one in the comfort of your own home, now you’ll face the whole new challenge of learning to feed in public places. Consider this, one of the best things about breastfeeding is that it’s mobile…
Lesson #4: Let down your guard
The first few months of breastfeeding in public you’ll insist on using one of those cover-up’s specially designed for this very thing. Let me just say, as soon as your little one learns to grab with those 10 tiny perfect fingers, say goodbye to your beloved cover. Sorry to break it to you, but no baby wants to be hidden behind a sheet when the world is happening on the other side. And while you’ll fight (without much success) to keep your boobs hidden under this protective shield of fabric, in the end you might win a battle or two, but your baby will win the war.
Lesson #5: Quick Latch
Once you’ve accepted the inevitable – that your child refuses to be covered for their required regular boob-fix – you will slowly let go of the comfort of your cover. Instead you’ll figure out how to unleash your boob and get your kiddo latched in 3 seconds flat, thus avoiding a prolonged boob exposure to the gawking eyes of any man or judging woman within a 50 foot radius. This comes down to practice makes perfect.
Lesson #6: The Gawker or Judge
You’ll discover that while your child’s head actually blocks the majority of the exposed boob, any onlooker who really wants to get a peek will do their darndest, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Cover or no cover, if there is boob present, you’ll have someone trying to sneak a peek. There’s also the random onlooker who decides it is their business to judge you for daring to feed your child in a public space *gasp*. Give both of these types a sweet smile as if they don’t bother you in the least and let your little one take their sweet time finishing their meal.
Lesson #7: That’s Right
It is your right to breastfeed – anywhere, anytime. Do it proudly, Mama’s.
Lesson #8: Multi-tasking
After a few months you will have the latch down to an art and you’ll be ready to take on the world. OK, maybe not the world, but you will become semi ambidextrous as you’ll have to learn to type, write, stir, or use the remote with whichever hand is free at the moment. Baby may be eating, but life and productivity must go on…
Lesson #9: Not all it’s cracked up to be
At times you’ll feel like your entire day is consumed with feeding or pumping. All the privacy and mystery of your boobs and nipples has gone out the window. Your nipples have doubled in size, and while your boobs have also grown, they will eventually shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size (sorry men).
Lesson #10: Savor the Moment
Like all things little and lovely, time passes too quickly and your little one will be done breastfeeding before you know it. You’ll blink an eye and suddenly those days are long past. So as cliché as it is, savor the moments when your sweet baby is nuzzled up against your chest. There will come a time when you miss it terribly, if even only for a moment.