When you choose to breastfeed, you change the way you move through the world for a while. Everything, and I mean everything, revolves around your boobs. They become their own entity but are simultaneously intimately connected to you. TBH, it can be a pain in the ass. That said, in my humble opinion, there are a number of satisfying experiences only a breastfeeding mom will understand.
I know some people prickle when they see "only a breastfeeding mom will understand" and, hey, I get it. But believe me: I'd never write anything that suggests that there is a universal, one-size-fits all, Right Way To Feed Your Baby. Fed is best! To each their own! And I get that breastfeeding is, in many circles, held up as this creepy pinnacle of womanhood and people who don't do it are shunned, but that's not what's happening here. This is literally just saying "Hey, if you had this experience you know about this. If you didn't, you don't." It's not that breastfeeding moms have cornered the market on maternal wisdom. It's that breastfeeding moms have myriad unique experiences related to breastfeeding that people who, for whatever reason, won't understand. The same way C-section moms know things vaginal birth moms will never begin to fathom. Or how adoptive moms know truths those who haven't adopted can't know.
It's not about ranking these experiences, either. Instead, it's about recognizing their uniqueness, appreciating another person's perspective and, perhaps and in the process, learning from other moms.
Getting The Hang Of It
Breastfeeding is not easy. Even people who catch on pretty quickly rarely got it immediately without a hitch. For some, it never really works out, which is completely fine but nevertheless can be tremendously disappointing.
But, for the lucky ones, the hard work pays off and there comes a moment when you realize "Hey! I just kind of did that nursing thing without emotional upheaval or too much disruption to my day." That is a deeply satisfying, amazing feeling. When whatever needs to click"clicks," the game changes for the better.
Going All Day With A Dry Shirt
In the early days of nursing my children, it looked as though I were in a wet t-shirt contest every hour of every day. Every morning when I woke up, I would do so in a massive puddle on my mattress. The "stray milk" situation was out of control until my body figured out how much milk I had to make and when. Once I could (mostly) go a day without springing a leak (because it got better with time, but there was always a risk so long as I was lactating)? Well, those were some good times.
The Relief Of Nursing After A Long Wait
No primal release or moment of long-delayed relief can adequately describe this precise kind of relief. When one goes from feeling as though one's boobies are going to explode to empty boobs, that's a deep-seeded gratitude beyond measure.
The Joy Of A Peaceful Nursing Session
Breastfeeding isn't always fun. Infants often don't know what they're doing. Or they nip. Or they claw your breasts. Or you're nursing toddler who wants to do yoga at the same time. Or you're in public and there's an audience and people either want to judge you, applaud you, or ask you questions.
But, every now and then, you get a calm, relaxed, lovely feeding and it's enough to recharge your very soul. Peaceful breastfeeding cuddles are so, so satisfying.
Looking At Your Baby's Full Tummy After A Feeding
This is my IRL daughter's IRL belly after an IRL feeding. It wasn't usually that deliciously round, and whenever she ate enough to get it to such a state I felt absurdly proud of myself.
Also it's funny to see your boobs shrink as your child's tummy grows.
Pumping More Than You Usually Do
Pumps don't always express the same amount of milk from your breasts that your baby can. So it can be discouraging to spend 20 minutes pumping only to get a half an ounce when you know that your child is getting more than that at a feeding. Personally speaking, I was never a particularly prolific pump-er. So even if I only get another ounce or so than usual, it was always gratifying.
Your Pediatrician Noting Good Weight Gain
And then you're all giggly and giddy and just a little bit smug because you're like, "Tee hee! That was me! I did that! You're welcome, baby. You're welcome, doctor. YOU'RE WELCOME, WORLD!"
Standing Up For Yourself
So, I'll admit that I'm only going off of what I imagine in this case, because I was fortunate enough to have a roundly positive breastfeeding experience, but I feel like it would be extremely cathartic to go off on someone giving you a hard time about nursing. Maybe they thought you shouldn't be doing it in a particular place. Maybe they thought you shouldn't do it at all. Maybe they felt your child was too old to breastfeed. Perhaps they wanted you to cover up.
I won't lie: I had a slew of zingers all set up and ready to go in case someone ever said anything to me, but no one ever did. (At least nothing overtly rude.)
Standing Up For A Formula Feeding Mom To A Breastfeeding Sanctimommy
This one I do have experience with. Because there are some breastfeeding moms, very much in the minority, who are, like, extra about it. I say this as someone who was all about breastfeeding, but these ladies take it to a new level. Because it's not enough for them to do something and enjoy it. Oh no, they need to make everyone who isn't doing it feel like crap.
I do not have patience for those people, especially if they come after a fellow mama for something as unimportant as whether or not they've chosen (or were able) to nurse.
Not today, Satan.
And because you, too, are a breastfeeding mother, their own absurd deification of all things lactation has come back to bite them in the ass. In other words, they can't just dismiss you with a, "Well what do you know."
Finally Getting That Glass Of Water
Because good lord are you thirsty all the damn time when you're breastfeeding. It's otherworldly.
Turning All Your Many Snacks Into Food For Your Baby
In addition to being thirsty all the time, breastfeeding moms are also starving every minute of every day, which requires #allthesnacks. Under normal circumstances, one probably shouldn't snack quite that much, but when you're nursing your body is working all day every day to turn those granola bars and dried mango strips into food for you bebbeh. It's a nice feeling!
Having "Sleep Potion" On Tap
I can't speak for every mom, but my breast milk had the magical ability to knock my kids out cold if they were even a little bit sleepy. It was great! That's not to say they wouldn't be up again in an hour to eat some more, but it was comforting and satisfying to know that boob in mouth = eyes closed and snoring within minutes.
Having A Built-In Excuse To Leave Awkward Or Annoying Situations
"Oh dear! As much as I would love to listen to you talk about the "Clinton murders"/your bunions/why all-female reboots are ruining your childhood, I've actually got to pop out for a few minutes. Hey, it's not you, the baby needs to eat!"
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