As a new mom, my biggest adjustment involved my time management. After all, I didn’t own my schedule anymore. I only had small pockets of time — between breastfeeding sessions, diaper changes, laundry, and the lengthy preparation needed in order to leave the house with a newborn — to accomplish everything on my to-do list. So when I said I needed a "minute," what I really meant was, "I needed more control over the hours of my day while they evaporated into a sleep-deprived fog, punctuated by shrill cries from a hungry baby."
Sadly, when I was sitting and actively nursing my child, most people saw it as an invitation to engage me in conversation. Even when I returned to work and was pumping, people felt as though they could get a piece of me during that time. While breastfeeding has become a more open, public, and accepted topic of conversation as a whole these days, and we have laws to prevent discrimination against nursing moms, I don’t feel that society respects the act as much as it should. I shouldn’t have to tell people “I’m busy” when I’m breastfeeding. Would I need to do so if I were feeding a child solids? No, and breastfeeding is basically the same thing.
So, as a breastfeeding mom, when I would tell people “I need a minute,” I probably meant one (or all, because who are we kidding) of the following:
“This Is My 'Me Time' So Back Off”
I know it looks like I’m just sitting there with an adorable baby in my lap, but I’m actually doing something that requires my focus. When I was breastfeeding my infant, I was shocked when people thought it was an invitation to sit down and chat me up. While I commend them for not being weirded out by watching me nurse, I kind of didn’t feel like having a grown-up conversation.
As a working mom, I treasured the time I had with my babies snuggled close to me, though maybe not so much when they woke me to eat in the middle of the night. Either way, let me have a minute with them. At least.
“I’m Naked From The Waist Up”
The most annoying aspect of breastfeeding in public was trying to do so casually. After a few weeks of wasting energy attempting to be sort of topless, stealthily, I stopped giving a f*ck.
If I had my shirt open at work in a private space as I was pumping, and I heard a knock on the door (there was only one mother’s room for the entire company of hundreds of women), I would shout “just a minute,” which was code for, “I’m naked and you don’t need to confirm that.”
“I’ve Got A Loose Hose Situation”
I had overproduction issues when I was breastfeeding my second child, and it led to a lot of milk spraying so that he would avoid gagging on the forceful flow. So when I say that I “need a minute,” it could be because I had to deal with a milk flood and we’d both be better off if you stayed away.
“What Exactly About ‘Do Not Disturb’ Do You Not Understand?”
Since I had to share the mother’s room with other nursing moms (though not at the same time), we were all sticklers for keeping to our allotted appointments with the room. We had to book it in advance, just like any other conference rooms in the building. Since meetings run long and I would have half my pumping time lost to a rambling brainstorming session on another floor, I would occasionally run over my end time.
A closed door is not an invitation to knock loudly on it. Yes I know my time is up, but rushing me out of there while I’m trying to squeeze out the last half ounce isn’t really a team-building move.
“I Just Have To Get To 3 Ounces Per Side”
I was committed to getting out 3 ounces of milk from each breast during both pumping sessions at work. Stress from the day, and from this self-imposed quota, however, made it difficult to hit my goal, especially during the second session.
As I watched my inbox fill up on my phone, while I hunched over my pump trying to literally milk every last drop out of me, I wish I could just scream to my colleagues to give me a minute more.
“There’s Spillage To Deal With”
When I “need a minute,” I usually need it to clean something up. Breast milk, a diaper blow-out, or some runny mascara when it suddenly hits me how damn fast these babies grow up and I can’t stop crying.
“I Should Not Be Expected To Multitask While Pumping”
I may sound a bit irritated when someone tries to get my attention while I’m breastfeeding (especially if I’m asleep with my eyes open). Maybe I am overly sensitive, but I just felt like it was so unfair to try to get a piece of me when I was nursing my kids.
While I did attempt to watch TV, scroll through my phone, or even eat (without dropping food on my kid’s head), those were all things I was doing for me. I didn’t want to answer questions, or even engage in basic conversation with someone in my presence while I was nursing. I just wanted to feed my kid. I didn’t want to be supermom and multitask, and we have to get over the idea that being a terrific mother means doing a million things at once. If I attempted that, I’d probably fail at all of them.
“Getting The Kid To Latch On Might Take A Hot Second”
Despite how it’s portrayed in the movies, breastfeeding IRL is not a turnkey activity, nor do I look flawless doing it (except that time I breastfed my kid at a wedding). For me, it took a comfy spot, quiet surroundings, and all the time I needed to get my baby to settle down and get sufficiently fed. Sometimes the kid fussed, or we were both overtired or sweaty or cranky for reasons we couldn’t express. It could take a little bit to calm my baby and get him to latch on, and I really didn’t need anyone trying to distract me from my number one priority (unless it was an emergency).
“Unless You Also Need To Be Breastfed, You Don’t Need Me Right Now”
Before approaching a nursing mom, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did you already have an appointment to speak with her at this time?
- Do you want to compliment her shoes?
- Are you on fire?
If the answer to the above is “no,” kindly hold all queries until the breastfeeding mom is done nursing her child and looks somewhat awake again.