I've been awkward for a significant chunk of my life, so my threshold for embarrassment is pretty high. But when you're a mom of a new human — who has all of your inborn awkwardness and legitimately has no clue what acceptable behavior even looks like, let alone any means of attempting it — it's easy to spend a lot of your time hovering riiiiight near that limit. Add breastfeeding to the mix, and, well, basically it's inevitable: if you choose to nurse, you'll probably end up experiencing the kind of breastfeeding moments that prove you're a complete hot mess. Welcome to the club. We'd get jackets, but that would require a level of free time, organization, and financial investment that we just don't have to spare right now, because motherhood.
Nursing is definitely one of my favorite parts of being a mom. After overcoming our initial breastfeeding struggles (poor latch + fearsome baby claws = asking your husband if he kept the warranty info on this child), I discovered that nursing is probably my favorite tool in my parenting toolkit. Especially now that nursing is less about food and more about rest and comfort for my son, functional boobs are basically my co-sleeping snooze button, and my get-out-of-tantrums free card. I'm going to be super sad when my son weans and I have to figure out other ways to solve our problems.
But of course, every benefit has a cost. For me, that cost is moments like the following, several times a week. But whatever. As far as I'm concerned, I'm perfectly happy to trade a little extra awkwardness here and there in exchange for never having to prepare bottles in the middle of the night. Nursing mamas, we're amazing, as is what we're doing for our kids (and ourselves). Keep calm and nurse on, ladies. If the following is at all familiar to you, you're in fantastic company.
When You Forget To Close Up Shop
Early motherhood really beats up a mom's sense of modesty (and dignity, but that's a whole other article). As a new nursing mom, I went from being very precise and careful every time we got ready to nurse, to just whipping everything out and sometimes forgetting about it afterwards. But really, who among us hasn’t forgotten to re-clasp her nursing bra, or answered the door with a boob totally exposed? Sorry and/or you're welcome, FedEx Delivery Guy.
When You Totally Cry Over Spilled Milk
Whoever initially coined the phrase, "There's no use crying over spilt milk," was obviously a man who never had to express that milk himself. Pumping is freakin' hard, and every hard-won ounce of breast milk is precious. Sure, crying may not un-spill that milk, but it is cathartic and may even help you calm down enough to not cut somebody, if it was someone else who spilled the milk.
When You Spray Milk Everywhere
My son and I don't always spray breastmilk all over the place, but when we do, it's usually when I'm trying to nurse discreetly at a fancy event or professional conference. You can dress us up, but you can't take us out.
When You Forget How Your Fancy Nursingwear Works
One of the friendly bits of advice I give to all my friends who plan to nurse their new babies, is to practice with your nursing gear before using it in public. Most of the time, the goal of the two-shirt method, or your fancy nursing top or dress, is to nurse somewhat modestly yet conveniently. That means you don't want to be like me with my son our first time shopping together: tired, flustered and so clumsy while your hungry baby gets increasingly mad that you just give up on modesty entirely and pull out your whole boob.
When You Use Breastfeeding To Get Out Of Other Responsibilities
Nursing is really energy intensive, so even if you're not doing anything else, making food for another person means you're working damn hard. But there are also times, like when you're at a big family gathering and you don't want to make awkward small talk with distant relatives, when the baby "must be having a growth spurt!" and you pretend to care about privacy so you can retreat to another room and cuddle them while streaming Hulu on your phone. Welp.
When You Forget Your Nursing Pads (If You’re A Leaky Mama…)
Sure, breast milk is nothing to be ashamed of. But that doesn't mean you want to accessorize your cute new top with giant streaks of it. Oops.
...Or Use Nursing Pads For Totally Random Purposes
I have two packs of reusable nursing pads that I use for pretty much everything but catching stray breastmilk. I’ve used them for everything from cleaning up little spills when I didn't feel like crossing the room to get a sponge, to keeping track of small earrings cause I don’t currently own a jewelry box. Necessity is the hot mess mom of invention.
When You Forget To Pump
If you're like me, and don't have to pump on a regular basis, those times when you're away from your little one and you do need to can catch you by surprise. And by "surprise," I mean, "Wow, I didn't realize breasts could literally feel angry."
When You Forget Which Side Your Child Last Nursed On
Then again, if people think one shoulder tops and dresses can be a stylish thing, maybe the engorged-on-one-side, lopsided boob look can be a statement, too.
When You Run Out Of Clean Nursing Gear And Just Start Improvising
Nursing mom hacks may look a hot mess, but they are actually some of the best evidence that moms are total geniuses. No hands-free pumping bra? As long as you've got some hair ties on hand, you're good. Cute nursing tank still in the wash? Just loop the straps of one of one of your regular camis around your nursing bra. Feeling full during a night out with the girls, but don't have a pump? Hand express your milk until you're comfy again, then get back to having a good time. Whatever, mama. It's all good.