For the record, I can’t claim to be an expert on breastfeeding, nor do I possess the ability to read minds, so I can’t be entirely certain my son feels the way I think he feels about breastfeeding. However, as parents know, we spend a whole bunch of time feeding our kids, so I’ve had, like, a zillion hours to sit and stare at him and imagine what he thinks when he’s breastfeeding. As a result, I’ve come up with a few educated guesses concerning what babies want their parents to know about breastfeeding.
Disclaimer: does my own breastfeeding experience affect what's on this list? Do those early weeks of breastfeeding, which were fraught with hurdles and challenges and some kind of tongue thing that affected my baby’s latch, influence this list? What about the later months and calm, snuggly routine we eventually found? Yes. Absolutely, yes. Like motherhood in general, how my breastfeeding journey ended up evolving affects this list immensely. However, my breastfeeding experience is intertwined with my son’s (funny how that happens), so I really hope he’d agree with my assumptions. If not, I hope that he'd at least (one day, when he's able) just tell me that he agrees so I’d stop asking and he can get back to playing with his trucks, which is what he’s all about these days.
We’ll probably never actually know what a baby thinks about anything, including breastfeeding, but in the meantime we can speculate. I mean, what else are you going to do to pass the time when you're half-asleep in the middle of the night and night feeding, right? So, here’s what I think babies want their moms to know about breastfeeding:
"Hey, I Appreciate It..."
First things first. Since manners and politeness are always at the forefront of a baby’s mind (ha) I’m thinking that they probably wish they could shout their gratitude from the rooftops.
"...But I Appreciate Other Things You Do, Too"
Do babies notice the effort that goes into breastfeeding, or realize the difference from, say, the effort that goes into changing their diapers, washing their bottles and pacifiers, doing their laundry, and making sure all the knives and chainsaws and whatnot are kept out of their reach? I mean, it’s possible, but I suspect it can sometimes blend into this warm, fuzzy, blob of comfort and care.
"Either Way, Thanks For Putting In The Time And Energy"
Really, what they are most likely are aware of is that they spend more time on the breast than, say, watching the sockets get covered and burp cloths get folded. It’s like, sure, parents do a lot of things for their kids, but this one particular things happens a lot, so it's probably kinda important.
"Thanks For Wiping My Face And Catching My Spit-Up, Since It’s All One Continuous Cycle"
Breastfeeding can be messy and it can be drippy and, since babies can also be messy and drippy, you usually need to respond accordingly.
"I Can’t Understand Whatever They’re Saying On That Show You’re Watching Right Now, So Don’t Worry..."
Even so, I don’t feel bad for wearing headphones while bingeing some of my favorite shows. It took away a tiny smidge of the guilt.
"...Besides, I’m Not Sure It Counts As Screen Time If My Eyes Are Closed And My Head’s Turned Away"
Good point, son. Good point. Thanks for that.
"Please Don’t Drop Your Phone On My Face"
I mean, of course I’m not going to do that on purpose. However, given the fact that it’s it's in the middle of the night and/or some ungodly hour in the morning and the phone is the only thing keeping me awake (it’s not even doing that good of a job, if I'm being honest) I can’t make any promises.
"I’m Not Trying To Hurt You, Even When I Clamp My Gums Down On Your Most Sensitive Parts"
OK, I promise not to be mad, especially since you’re so patient about this whole phone thing. Good talk.
"Latching Is The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done. For Real."
An infant hasn’t done a lot of things, so context is important here. Still, this should not be taken lightly. Good thing there’s a tasty treat waiting for you every time you do it, son.
"I Know You’re Working Really Hard, Mom"
*tear* Thanks, little man. I know you are, too, what with all those milestones and growing and drooling and figuring out how to sit up and everything.
"I Love Our Snuggles"
Like mother, like son. If there was any doubt you shared half my genes, it’s out the window now.
"I’m Excited To Sleep Through The Night"
That’s fair. I’m definitely not going to stop you. In fact, I encourage it. Like a Disney character, you’ve got to find your own way.
"The Nursing Pillow Makes It Feel Like I’m Lying On A Perfect Cloud And Everything Is Great"
I suspect that whoever invented body pillows was desperately jealous of a nursing baby, and rightfully so. We should all be so lucky as to be able to lay on pillows that mold to our bodies as we're fed hot meals multiple times a day.
"It'd Be Cool If You Always Did The Football Hold. No Pressure."
Oh, that's good to know. It reminds me that I should also probably find time to exercise and not be overwhelmed by anything remotely related to sports and athletics, including things that are merely named after them.
"Even Though I Won’t Remember, I’m Going To Appreciate This When You Tell Me About It Someday"
That’s the sweetest thing you’ve never said to me. I know I’m totally projecting on you right now, but even the thought of you saying that is making me all emotional, and I get enough of that as the mom of a small child. Good thing you're super cute, kid.