One of the many things that makes a mama feel like she's earned her stripes, is when she has mastered the fine art of breastfeeding. Those first few nursing days usually make you feel like you'll never be able to do anything but sit on the couch and attempt to achieve that perfect latch. However, over time and when you get the hang of it, you discover that you really can do all kinds of things when nursing. After breastfeeding two kids for nearly 18 months each, I experienced a lot of breastfeeding moments that proved I'm an OG mom (at least in the nursing department).
I started out nursing the way I start out a lot of things I don't know much about: with an academic approach. I read a lot of articles and I took classes and I consulted with professionals (like lactation consultants). However, despite my best efforts I still struggled with my real life newborn and couldn't find the right positions he seemed to favor. In other words, I learned the hard way that my baby was not the type to keep to any sort of schedule at all (which sucked, no pun intended).
One of the upsides of having a baby that is basically attached to your boob every hour of every day, is the forced necessity of getting on with your life while simultaneously nursing another human being. So, while my academic approach basically had to get tossed in the garbage, I learned a lot of skills I hadn't expected or prepared to learn. I learned that I could do some pretty cool things while nursing – from the practical (like laundry and eating) to the ridiculous (like nursing in moving vehicles). In other words, I learned to breastfeed like a boss, and if you're capable of doing the following, it's safe to say that you're an OG mom, too.
You Breastfeed Hands-Free
The first time I realized that I could legit walk down the street with my baby in his Bjorn while he nursed was a real eureka moment. What freedom! What fun! It was like walking around with a little secret.
I don't know if this is a weird analogy (it probably is?) but I felt a little like a flasher in a trench coat, hiding my nude body underneath. I'd be passing the postman and think, "You have no idea what I'm doing underneath this thing!" I wanted to whisper to the random mom on the street pushing a stroller, "Hey! Guess what I'm up to? My baby's nursing right now! Betcha couldn't tell, huh?"
You Breastfeed While Going Up And Down Stairs And Picking Things Up Off The Floor
This might be a breastfeeding-mom-with-smaller-boobs kinda thing, but I found it rather easy to hold my nursing baby in one arm, and do all kinds of household tasks with the other.
I'd go up and down the stairs with a laundry basket and pick crap up off the floor. I also learned to use my toes as an extra helpful appendage in picking things up around the house. The one thing that I regret never having mastered, however, was the art of folding laundry one-handed. This is a thing that I am afraid is just not possible (or just not possible if you have a high standard for folded laundry, like I do). For obsessive Type A mom like me, it just didn't work out.
You Can Breastfeed From Practically Any Angle. Really.
Once, when my second baby was screaming in the back from his rear-facing carseat, and my then toddler was flipping out, yelling, "Make the baby stop crying!" I leaned over from the passenger seat and dangled my breast onto my baby's face to nurse.
It worked. He stopped crying, and even my toddler was amazed. In fact, the truck driver next to us was, too. I had back pain that hasn't necessarily subsided since, but no one can take away my pride.
You Breastfeed While Hand Pumping. In Public.
On days when my baby had been boycotting one boob in particular, I'd have to bring the hand pump when we left the house, so as not to suffer from uncomfortable (and painful) engorgement.
So, if we found ourselves in a restaurant and my son wanted to nurse, I would have to take out the breast pump and start pumping the breast he wasn't interested in nursing from. Neither of my kids were fans of any type of breastfeeding cover touching their faces, so I'd just be chilling at lunch with a friend, nursing my baby and pump, pump, pumping away with my other hand like this ain't no thang. Luckily I live in Brooklyn, where nursing is a pretty regular thing around here, but still; you don't often see women self-expressing or hand pumping out in the open like that. I was pretty badass.
You Breastfeed Without Covering Up, Often While Having Full Conversations With Eye Contact
Nothing makes a grown man more uncomfortable than having to endure a lengthy conversation with a breastfeeding woman who is not the mother of his own child.
OK, I can't speak for all men, but let's just say that when I had my first son and a lot of our friends hadn't embarked on the wondrous journey of parenthood yet, a lot of the dudes got pretty freaked out by my breastfeeding. So, I would talk about serious matters, like religion or politics, while breastfeeding all while maintaining full eye contact with said dude.
You Don't Even Bother With Nursing Wear Anymore
When I was pregnant with my first, I scoured the internet for nursing-appropriate wear. This was back in 2011, and the pickings were relatively slim. I settled on a lot of button-downs and loose V-necks at that time, but when Baby Number Two came around two years later, and even though there were a lot more choices by way of "nursing fashion," I didn't really care. I was such an old breastfeeding pro by then, I didn't even bother with the types of clothes that made nursing easy on a person.
You Never Sweat Spilled Milk
I used to freak out when my left boob started leaking into my bra when my son was nursing on my right boob. All that wasted, precious liquid gold!
However, by the time I had my second son and nursing had become part of my #MomLife, I just accepted that sometimes leaks happen and sometimes you leave your pumped milk bottle in the diaper bag overnight by mistake and you know what? If you're a mom who is constantly nursing, there will most likely always be more where that came from. So chill.
You Eat When Your Baby Eats
One of the downsides of on demand nursing is that you basically never have time to nourish yourself. So, you have to become really good at eating while your baby eats.
For me, that meant preparing foods super fast (sandwiches, crackers with cheese or peanut butter) that I could eat over my baby's head while he was contentedly sucking away at my mammaries. As not to pepper his cute little scalp and face with sandwich crumbs or flecks of cheese, I simply took one of my organic swaddles and fashioned it into a bib-turned-crumb-catcher while I ate. This way we kind of got to enjoy our meals together, and neither of us ever had to really eat alone. #Winning
You Find Ingenious Solutions To Modern Day Problems
I learned that if you position your nursing pillow and your baby just right, you can actually get some work done during a nursing session – especially during those never ending ones when baby is basically substituting your nipple for a pacifier.
Honestly, if it wasn't for this discover I wouldn't have been able to write, and if I wouldn't have been able to write during those postpartum days, I think I would have spontaneously combusted. Or exploded in a sick burst of sour milk and witch hazel wipes. I don't know. Other people probably would have advised that I slept when my baby was dozing and sucking on my breast, but for me, writing was my salvation and the ability to type on my laptop while nursing felt like such a joy and offered me necessary relief. As they say, motherhood is the mother of invention. (They say that, right?)
You Can Work On Your Bold Lip While Doing A Football Hold
No need to go barefaced when you're a breastfeeding mom with little-to-no time, unless that's your thing. With my first son, I put him in the old football hold position to nurse him while I applied brow pencil and mascara with my other hand. People asked me how I had time to put makeup on with a newborn at home and said things like,"Wow! He must sleep a lot!"
Yeah, no. My son never slept. He was only happy when he was attached to me, like a succubus. So, I got crafty and learned to keep busy while he went about his baby business. Even if I wasn't able to shower (see: succubus) I at least had makeup caked to my face. If one didn't look to closely, I looked absolutely gorgeous.