The words "embarrassing" and "motherhood" seem to be synonymous which, you know, sucks. When my daughter was born I had a crash course in humiliating, mortifying, and unbearably awkward moments. Most happened before I even left the hospital, you guys. Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, I learned I had undersupply and wouldn't be able to breastfeed exclusively. You really can't prepare yourself for the embarrassing breastfeeding moments you can blame on undersupply, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. At least you'll get to read my ridiculous stories that, if nothing else, are entertaining, right?
Of course, and to no one's surprise, breastfeeding in public is usually the catalyst for a healthy dose of humility. I've had someone tell me to cover up, only to have someone else ask me why I'm feeding my baby "poison" when I supplemented with a bottle. I was also forced to endure people not believing me when I told them I had undersupply. These folks would patronizingly share tips and statistics with me, like I was an idiot who didn't know what was coming out of my breasts.
I loved combo-feeding my kids both breast milk and formula. At times it was absolutely the "best of both worlds." At other times, however, it felt impossible to bypass embarrassing moments while breastfeeding, pumping, and formula-feeding, sometimes all on the same day. I also had to endure comments from breastfeeding moms about formula, and comments from formula-feeding moms about breastfeeding. Why can't people leave moms alone about how they feed their damn kids?
With that in mind, here are my worst, funniest, and most embarrassing breastfeeding moments that I knew I could blame on undersupply. The struggle is real.
When Your Supplemental Nursing System Malfunctions
For the uninitiated, supplemental nursing systems (SNS) are basically feeding tubes for supplementing while breastfeeding. The one I used was clearly designed by a man who had never breastfed a child. It featured a bottle that I filled with formula and pumped milk that I hung around my neck. Attached was a thin, white tube I taped to my breast and placed in my baby's mouth, so when she sucked on my breast she got breast milk and formula at the same time.
It sounds great, until you hurriedly try to latch a crying baby and slip the piece of tiny tubing in their mouth, accidentally stabbing yourself in the nipple. Other times you get the lid on wrong and formula leaks all over you. Then, of course, there are those "special" moments when you spill an entire bottle of formula all over your baby while trying to fill it up late at night. This was supposed to feel more "natural" than bottle feeding? Ha.
When Your Doctor Asks If You're Still Breastfeeding
The first time I was asked this particular question, I lied. My face turned beat red and I teared up, too. I didn't want to tell my OB-GYN that I had to supplement with formula. It made me feel like a terrible mom to even admit it.
When You're Shamed In The Formula Aisle
There ought to be a law that says you can't comment on what's in someone else's grocery cart. Especially if the grocery cart is being pushed by a new, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed mom.
The first time someone shamed me for buying formula, I had stopped on my way to the NICU to pick up my newborn baby and finally bring her home. While this woman pointing out the can of formula, her tone and voice said, "You really should breastfeed. Breast is best for your baby." My face reddened and I quickly replied, "Oh, I am breastfeeding, I just need to supplement." I didn't want her to think I was a bad mom.
When You're Feeding In Public
I thought breastfeeding in public would be uncomfortable. I discovered that breastfeeding in public was nothing compared to breastfeeding in public and mixing a bottle or filling a supplemental nursing system so you can formula-feed, too. I'm sure there are people who will stare regardless of what you do, but wow it was like having double the opportunity to be judged and scrutinized.
When You Pull Out A Bottle
The first time I fed my daughter a bottle in public, someone asked me why I wasn't breastfeeding. I explained, with a shaky voice, that I had undersupply and needed to supplement with formula, but by then this random, nosy stranger had walked away. After that incident I was so embarrassed to bottle feed my daughter in front of other people, I often hid in the bathroom or fed her in my car.
When You're Forced To Share Your Medical History With Nosy Strangers
Whenever I tell people I have undersupply, they assume it's because I don't know about this tea, or that supplement, or some specific food they used to boost their supply. Yeah, those won't help. Guys, my boobs just don't work. I have a medical condition called insufficient glandular tissue. I would really love if I didn't have to share my medical history or give strangers impromptu anatomy lessons, which generally involves them checking out my boobs.
When You're Pumping & Everything Goes Wrong
When You Have Lopsided Boobs
I hate bra shopping regardless, but bra shopping while breastfeeding and with my defective, lopsided boobs was so embarrassing. My party boob on the left was close to a D at it's biggest, while my slacker boob on the right was more like a B.
When You Have Leaky Boobs
Having leaking boobs is embarrassing all on its own, but when you have undersupply it kind of adds insult to injury. I mean, dammit boobs, you can't make enough breast milk to feed the baby, but you can make enough to leak all over my shirt while I am at work? Not fair.
When Someone Tells You Your Undersupply Isn't Real
It seems like every time I tell someone I have undersupply, they ask me if I am sure, make comments about how I didn't try hard enough to breastfeed, or tell me a bullsh*t statistic about undersupply. It's humiliating to have someone not believe you, or worse, tell you that your undersupply is your fault or that it's all in your head. It's so invalidating, and besides, they possibly know what I have or haven't done or what is or is not happening in my boobs.