The truth about breastfeeding, and the sometimes harsh reality of life for lactating parents, is often hidden under a banner of serene nursing anecdotes and #NormalizeBreastfeeding pictures. But if those breastfeeding nipples could talk? Oh, dear reader. They would have a lot to say.
Lactating nipples carry endless untold secrets of pain, pleasure, defeat and triumph, so I say we take every opportunity afforded to us and milk them for all their worth. After all, they never get the chance to express themselves. (Are the breastfeeding puns getting old yet? No. Alright then. Please proceed.)
Make no mistake, lactating nipples are resilient. From potential latch complications and sporadic bites, to the use of nipple shields (why are they so complicated?!) and random leaks courtesy of someone else's kid crying in the cereal aisle (thanks kid), we should be paying consistent homage to the nipples of nursing parents. But they're often hidden behind nursing covers and met with raised eyebrows on the judgmental faces of strangers, so rarely do they get the credit they deserve.
So I say we forget what the walls would say if they could talk. Think about the nipples and what they would say if they could talk, which would undoubtably include the following:
"We Need Moisturizer, Too"
We see how generous you are with creams, oils, and lotions, especially when your hair is dry and brittle as you cope with postpartum hair loss. We also see the lengths you’ll go to avoid ashy knees and elbows. We also know you were gifted nipple butter from your registry, so for the love of all things pure please put it to use.
When you noticed cracks or dryness, we beg of you, soften us up.
"We Didn't Mean To Embarrass You That One Time"
You thought you could make it to and from the grocery store without leaking so you bravely (read: stupidly) decided to go braless with a soon-to-be hungry baby in tow. We didn’t mean to soak your shirt just as you approached the cashier, precisely at the moment they asked you how you were doing.
"Please Buy More Nursing Pads"
You can avoid embarrassing moments involving leaks if you just restock your nursing pads at the same frequency with which you restock cookie butter and sparkling water. Come on, now! This is Postpartum 101, my friend. Let's get it together.
"We Can't Help It If We've Got A Heavy Flow"
I mean, we’re only providing your growing baby with countless health benefits, including but not limited to antibodies that help them fight off viruses and the nutrients that help them develop. So yeah, sometimes we’re gonna erupt like bite-sized, twin Old Faithfuls. Forgive us if we dampen a few shirts, but we swear it's not entirely on purpose.
"Thanks For Reminding Us How Flexible We Are, Kid"
This one’s for the little squirt who didn’t earn that nickname. Those little phalanges move pretty quick and put us through all sorts of twists and turns on the daily. Luckily, we’re fine.
And you remind us how flexible and strong we are.
"Sorry, Not Sorry, We're So Sensitive"
We were just born this way. We have to stay alert and ready for signs to trigger lactation-producing hormones, so don’t be surprised if you spy a little split milk if you rub us the wrong way.
"Please, For The Love Of All That Is Good, Change Your Nursing Pad"
We’re glad we haven’t gotten into any weird situations as of late, but just to be on the safe side, here’s a reminder: keep changing your nursing pad regularly. You know those videos that feature time lapses of bacteria-filled Petri dishes? Well, that’s what we could look like if you’re not careful. Enough said.
"No, That Bra Doesn't Fit Anymore"
Stop trying to squeeze us into that one bra. You know the one. It doesn’t fit, OK? It just doesn't. And it really doesn’t fit when you’re engorged.
We see you struggling to pop us out when your kid’s lips start smacking and you feel that let down kick in. Avoid that struggle. You do not have to live this life. Don’t have your breasts bustin' out the seams of that bra like Aunt Marge after she called Harry Potter’s mom a b*tch. Shut up! Shut up! Get a bigger bra.
"Don't Let Us Down"
We’re been here for you and your kid and we’ll be here in the future for any other offspring you happen to yank out of cosmic obscurity. And, of course, we're here for any non-parenting purposes you may have in mind.
We just want you to know that you’re not alone. We feel your pain. We celebrate your breastfeeding wins. We’ll do our best not to let you down, but please do the same for us. Keep us abreast of any changes we need to know about, and don't forget the nipple butter.