Once you become a mom, it seems like the focus of holiday gift-giving shifts away from you and to the tiny people in your life. And honestly, you might find that there aren't many things you need or want — other than a full night's sleep, that is. No, when you're breastfeeding your wish list isn't made up of things you can buy on Amazon. I mean, there are so many gifts that breastfeeding moms want that money can't buy.
Even though some gifts can't be bought, they can totally be given, especially if you're willing to get creative and offer your time, support, and encouragement. For example, as Katie Madden, a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) suggests, it's absolutely possible for a partner to take over a night feeding so a breastfeeding mom can sleep (or at least have a few hours without a small human touching them). Other nursing moms need gifts that can't be purchased yet because, well, they don't exist. If only we had more woman scientists and engineers, because if we did I'm positive we would we also have detachable, indestructible silicone nipples, or breast pumps that don't, you know, suck. As a non-breastfeeding partner, though, you can, and according to exclusivelypumping.com, help make pumping easier by giving a pumping mom a comfortable pumping space, as well as adequate time, and support, while doing it.
Unfortunately, and despite how much breastfeeding moms plan ahead, your breasts, breast milk, and baby don't always comply with your wishes, which makes giving you what you really want, especially during the holiday season, a harder proposition. Most of all, though, what breastfeeding moms need is support, which you can give any time and without paying for shipping.
When I was breastfeeding, I would have loved to go a day without someone touching me. Is it possible to open a spa where breastfeeding moms can go and literally not be touched for 24 hours, but also not experience rock-hard breasts, leakage, or having to pump while they are there?
According to Katie Madden, IBCLC, on the website Balanced Breastfeeding, a break from breastfeeding (by letting someone else take over a feeding) is totally doable and absolutely important for your mental health.
I haven't had a full night's sleep in about eight years. God, I miss sleep. When I was breastfeeding, it would have been awesome to be able to give up night-feedings, which I guess is theoretically possible but also involves pumping or supplementing with formula, a willing partner, and a baby who will let someone other than you give them a bottle. In the alternative, it means night-weaning and sleep training, which is also a lot of work. Can someone please wave a magic wand and make sleep happen, because it's seriously hard on new moms.
When I am not breastfeeding I love going braless. I have pretty small breasts, so I can generally take my bra off as soon as I get home. It's like one big, full-bodied sigh of relief. When I am breastfeeding, though? Yeah, I need the extra support of a bra, otherwise I risk leaking through my shirt.
So, while Consumer Reports has a guide for buying the best nursing bra for your body, one that allows you to go braless isn't available. Nursing tanks are a happy medium, though, and can easily become a staple of many breastfeeding moms' wardrobes.
It sucks to not be able to sleep on your stomach when you're pregnant, especially if that's how you prefer to sleep. Then, if you are breastfeeding, you find that sleeping on your tummy is difficult, too. When your breasts get hard, leak, or get in the way of getting comfortable, foregoing sleeping on your stomach is the only way you're going to get a decent night's sleep. According to Breastfeeding Magazine, tummy sleeping is technically OK for breastfeeding moms, but may cause pain or leakage.
Breastfeeding wreaked havoc on my poor nipples. Early on, they were sore as hell while my babies figured out latching. Then came the blisters, incorrectly sized flanges on my pump, thrush, and all the damn biting. Bleeding nipples are something no one should have to deal with. While breast shields can help, it would be nice to just have your nipples convert to nerve-ending free silicone for nursing and pumping, and revert back to sensitive mode when you're ready for sexy time.
When you're breastfeeding, sex is an adventure. Would I squirt my partner in the eye? Would I letdown? Would my boobs feel like stones by the time we were finished? Would the baby wake up? Would I want my partner to stay as far away from my boobs as possible? Who the hell knows, my friends.
It would have been so nice to be able to relax and enjoy sex without worrying about breast milk or breasts getting in the way. According to Parents.com, the best gift for a breastfeeding mom in the bedroom is letting her call the shots about where she wants to be touched and what feels good.
Nursing in public seems to be a divided issue. On one side, it's something that's expected of you as a breastfeeding mom so you can play a part in "normalizing breastfeeding," whether you feel comfortable doing it or not. On the other side is a bunch of naysayers telling you to put your boobs away, feed your baby in the bathroom, or even calling breastfeeding gross. It would be so nice to have an invisibility cloak to be able to feed your baby anywhere, at any time, no matter your comfort level and away from the prying eyes of jerks who will try to make you feel bad about it. Perhaps the best way support a nursing mom is to simply let her do her own thing when it comes to feeding in public.
I often marveled at the ability of my breasts to leak at the most inconvenient moments — in a meeting at work, while sleeping longer stretches at night (creating a puddle and huge stain on my sheets), and at the store when someone else's baby would cry. So yeah, I totally wish leak-proof breasts had been a thing. Fortunately, there are great options for nursing pads and even milk catchers that money can buy.
Pumping sucks. I've actually never met a mom who didn't think that pumping was a necessary evil rather than an enjoyable activity. So, after I was done, I sort of wanted to take my pump outside and destroy it with a baseball bat. I didn't, though, because my pump was a closed system (meaning that no milk or bacteria can reach the inner workings), so I sold it to another pumping parent.
In the meantime, I hope more moms are honest about pumping. Maybe we will see more pumps in the future designed to suck less, like the Willow pump. Come on science!
Literally and figuratively, every breastfeeding mom could use a thicker skin, both to protect her nipples from the aforementioned bleeding, biting, and blisters, but also to protect her heart from a culture that pretty much shames new moms no matter how they choose to feed their babies. Luckily, while you can't buy the breastfeeding moms in your life a thicker skin, you can help them grow their own with encouragement, support, and a good nipple cream (which you totally can buy).
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