Motherhood is messy in and of itself. Breastfeeding can be a sloppy endeavor, too. And when you're a person who is usually kind of a mess staring motherhood and nursing in the face, well, for you, my dear, we have the hot mess mom's guide to breastfeeding. May it illuminate, my it console, and may it get you through this nonsense, one day at a time.
Truth be told, I think it's hard for even the super put-together moms to not end up being a hot mess while breastfeeding. At least it's hard to keep it together when you're first learning. I also think that breastfeeding can be what makes a mom descend into her own personal hot mess. Because, after a while, there's so much you just can't be bothered to GAF about when you're breastfeeding a baby. So casual nudity? A million different body fluid stains? They're no big deal. You become necessarily inured to these things because, if you cared too much, you'd become nothing more than a lactating bundle of nerves before the end of your maternity leave and — newsflash! — this is simultaneously a marathon and a sprint for the next 18 years.
So to all of you who think you might be a hot mess nursing mom, I say: lean in! Embrace your new sobriquet. Wear it with pride and do what you have to do to get through, up to and including all of the following:
Keep Your Boobs Out Always
Especially in those early days, when you're still getting the hang of things and your baby wants to eat every 45 seconds. I mean, what's even the point of putting them away? You're just going to take them out again in another minute, and the minute cloth touches your nipples you're going to start leaking. Why create more laundry? After all, your baby is doing enough of that for everyone in your household. So go ahead, you glorious hot mess — let your boobies get some fresh air and bask in the sun. They don't have too many opportunities otherwise.
Curse Every Time Your Child Latches
Especially when you're first starting out, but this does not have to be limited to beginners: some babies are just really inconsiderate about their latch, and always will be. (Though, admittedly, in most cases it does get better with time.) Some mothers may approach breastfeeding with a Madonna-like grace, but not you. You are a (lovable) mess and you are not adverse to cursing like a f*cking sailor.
Leak Through Everything
Some people leak constantly because they have issues with oversupply. Maybe you are one of them, but you don't have to be: it's possible you're just that lucky. Your nips will become mini Ol' Faithfuls at the most inopportune moment possible, like when you finally put on your favorite shirt, or as soon as you walk far enough from your apartment that it's too big of a hassle to run back in to change. This is your life now... your soggy, milky life.
When You Run Out Of Nursing Pads, Use Wadded Up Toilet Paper
Don't worry: it's totally inconspicuous. Absolutely no one notices. Sure it looks like you've stuffed fist-sized prunes down your bra, but no one is paying attention. Right?
Eh, who are we kidding? Everyone can see, everyone knows what's up, and it is clear to everyone you are a flying by the seat of your yoga pants.
Make Sure Your Nursing Cover Always Shifts So It Covers Nothing
"Why even bother with a nursing cover?" you might ask, and that is an excellent question. While a hot mess mom may not ultimately decide to use one in the longrun, she must always start off trying to use one and failing spectacularly. Hilarity ensues.
Maybe it's your baby's little kicking legs, maybe it's the fact that you're distracted, maybe it's your general ineptitude, but your nursing cover is forever askew. Like, on paper it's still a nursing cover, but in practice it's really more of a jauntily positioned cape, or a theater curtain that is always wide in order to display your boobs.
Drop Baby* The First Time You Attempt A Cross-Body Hold
*Safely, gently, on a pillow on your lap. It's totally no big deal, but you will panic and probably cry and convince yourself you're a terrible, unfit mother. But, seriously, even the not hot mess moms do this from time to time.
Run To Your Baby The Moment You Feel Letdown & Trip
Consider investing in a small band to play the Benny Hill theme any time you attempt to do anything. It's going to be the sort of investment that grows with you. For example, when your child becomes mobile and you have to chase them around the grocery store.
All breastfeeding mothers burn mad calories feeding their little ones. Many will find that doing so gives them a mighty appetite. What is the difference, then, between you and everyone else, hot mess mom? You will be conspicuously voracious. Someone will always catch you with part of a sandwich sticking out of your mouth. You will drop contents of said sandwich on your baby's head as you feed them. When you move, little piles of crumbs will fall at your feet. You will not always use utensils... or even your hands.
Have Existential Crisis About Hind Milk
You read about hind milk, the high-fat and calorie breast milk your baby gets toward the end of a feeding that is crucial for physical and neurological development. This is different from fore milk, which is thinner and comes out right away. You know all about the importance of your baby eating both. Your pediatrician has also stressed this to you. As a result, you have become obsessed with the difference... and your life has become a living nightmare because how do you know if your baby is getting it?! It's not like you can see inside their mouth while it's closed. What if they aren't? What if your baby misses out on some crucial aspect of their maturation? Like, what if they never learn how to blink or something, all because you didn't get them enough hind milk? OMG, what if your body is really weird and you don't even make hind milk? What is the solution to this perpetual quandry?!
(The answer is simply to track weight gain and monitor diapers. You'll know this, but being a hot mess you will nevertheless continue to fret about it for months.)
Move Your Family To A Watering Hole
Nursing has made you an unquenchable force of nature. Moving to be closer to a water source will be easier than you refilling your enormous water bottle every half an hour. And hey, you're a busy mom on the go, so it's all about efficiency, right?
Try To Get A Definitive Answer On When You Can/Should Drink While Nursing
OK, for real, can we just make this an easily memorized rule? Like... should I drink while I'm nursing so it doesn't have time to get in the milk? Should I wait an hour? Two hours? Do I have to wait at all as long as I'm not drunk? What. Is. The. Deal? And please don't, don't with the, "Actually, breastfeeding mothers shouldn't drink at all." We know that's pointlessly restrictive and stupid. But, seriously, at least give me a universally agreed upon guideline if not an actual rule.
Take Pictures Of Your Engorged Breasts & Send To Partner
Because look at them. Jeez! They're so big! Being a parent is tough, so take your joys when and where you can.
Get Mastitis & Convince Yourself You're Dying
Mastitis is hell, and no one is denying that. But as a hot mess you've really got to let people know it's hell. Be dramatic. Be more discombobulated than usual. Wail. Gnash teeth. Rend garments. Why? Well, because everyone with mastitis wants to do this, but they have the pressure of needing to keep it together to maintain their reputation as an adult who has their sh*t together. Everyone knows you don't have your sh*t together, so just go nuts.
Run Out Of Cream For Coffee & Use Breast Milk
I mean, it's right there.
Develop A Weird Relationship With Your Breast Pump
It's a really bizarre situation. Because you need it, but you hate it, but you love it because it enables you to meet your breastfeeding goals. It's cumbersome and loud and you're pretty sure it talks to you (even if everyone else just insists it sounds like a machine whirring). Talk to your breast pump like it's a person. Treat it with grudging respect, deep-seeded loathing, or familiar affection, depending on your mood.
Google "Can I [Do Activity] While Breastfeeding" 900 Times A Day
Ever since you got pregnant, you've found there are so many rules. Don't eat this. Make sure you eat that. Eat this, but not too much. Do this. Don't do that. Do this in moderation. Once they baby arrived it got so much worse. What are you supposed to do for them? What can they absolutely not do? How do you know you're doing anything right? Basically everything has to be Googled. Add breastfeeding into the mix and you have yet another aspect of caring for a baby that requires your frantic Googling.
Agonize Over Whether Your Pumped Milk Is Still Good
(Pstt: we've got you covered.)
Alternate Between Wanting To Quit & Never Wanting To Stop
Because your life as a breastfeeding mother is a hot mess, but, damnit, it's your hot mess.
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