Friday, June 10, 2005

All About the Boob

Of course I have to say SOMETHING about the Barbara Walters breastfeeding brouhaha. (See her comment from her show The View, and Jimmy Kimmel, who I usually don't care for, mocking her here.) I apologize in advance to my mother who loves the show (The View not Jimmy Kimmel - though I've never actually asked her if she likes Jimmy Kimmel - I'm assuming that would be a no).

When I decided to breastfeed, it was with hope that it worked out, but understanding if it didn't there was always formula. Within an hour from being born, Liam latched on and never looked back. He was a natural and made it easy for me (note I said easy, not painless or always successful).

I decided to breastfeed because I wanted the experience. I wanted to provide the best for my baby (again, I'm not knocking formula-feeding at all). And I thought it would save us money. And from what I estimate - it probably will end up saving us about $1.5k.

The first 2 weeks of breastfeeding are HELL. Dooce once compared it to having your nipple in a stapler. I have to tell you - she isn't far off the mark. My nipples hurt. They cracked. They bled. They scabbed. When Liam was hungry, I wanted to cry. Breastfed newborns eat about every two hours. My husband used to bring the baby to me and say in a sing-song voice, "Guess who's hungry?" until I finally snapped that if he ever said that again I would smother him in his sleep.

Learning to breastfeed is also an adventure. We took a class offered by the hospital. The videos showed these women that reminded me of those featured in National Geographic. Their boobs and nipples were so huge, they eclipsed the baby's head. The babies would cry as the boobs closed in and, I have to say, if one of those things was coming at me, I would cry too.

I was recovering from a c-section which meant I couldn't just lay the baby across my stomach to nurse. I had to use what is called the "football hold" - in which the baby is tucked under my arm like I'm tucking a football. Liam's head was in the palm of my hand while my other hand was squishing my boob enough so it was like a mini-missile aimed for his mouth. We were taught to touch Liam's mouth with the nipple so he'd open wide, then to smoosh his face into the boob. That was the only way he'd get the whole aereola in there. If he just got the tip of the nipple, it felt like my nipple was in a stapler that could chew.

Sometimes I couldn't get Liam latched on right, so it became a team effort. Dan would hold my boob and I would hold the Liam's head, we'd wait for him to open wide and...
"Nope, not it"
"OW! So not it"
"Oh he shut his mouth again"
"Hold up - you have it up his nostril."

With the inevitable baby blues, I would feel like a failure and cry through the whole process. But we must have been doing something right because he gained weight before we left the hospital and he doubled his weight in 2 months.

I've never been one to breastfeed in public. I fear making others uncomfortable. To this day, only 3 people have seen me breastfeed Liam. My husband, my sister, and my mother. In the beginning, it was difficult to get him latched on, so I didn't want to be bumbling around with my boob in front of an audience. Then when my boobs were full all the time, I feared spraying someone in the eye. I had no idea that the milk came out like a shower head and not like a faucet. After a while, I just got used to hiding out somewhere. In Liam's room. In a bedroom. In a fitting room at the mall. The closest I got was a woman's lounge at Filene's in the mall but I had the chair facing the wall. Liam was VERY distracted by the flushing toilets in the next room and kept craning his neck to see where the noise was coming from.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first 6 months and to continue, if possible, for at least one year. But while more women are breast-feeding for the first few weeks, fewer than one-third are still nursing after six months. Some doctors attribute the decline to self-consciousness and the difficulties of finding spaces where nursing seems acceptable. So far I've been doing it for about 9.5 months.

I've been happy to breastfeed Liam. We are old hat at it now. And since he's older we only nurse about 5 times a day. I love the closeness we share because of it and seeing him look up at me while he's nursing. It always comforts him if he's very upset. And of course, there's the whole THAT'S WHAT BOOBS ARE THERE FOR argument. Can you believe some ass compared the natural act of breastfeeding to urinating? Meaning neither should be done in public. So my baby's food is like URINE? Whatever, asshat - get a clue and grow up. God. Stop thinking all Beavis and Butthead "ooooh boobies hehheh" all the time. Freak.

So while I am not comfortable breastfeeding in public, it makes me sad to hear someone like Barbara Walters speak about it disdainfully. I figure a large portion of her audience is stay-at-home mothers - even women home on maternity leave. It's hard enough work raising a baby. Everyone you bump into wants to tell you how to do it. But to sit there on a talk show hosted by women for women and condemn something so maternal and feminine... she has done women a real disservice. Someone sitting at home feeling a little tentative and nervous may be swayed because of her. And that's not just sad for women, but for our babies.

So Barbara was uncomfortable with someone nursing a baby on an airplane 3 seats away from her. Perhaps she would be happier if the baby screamed in hunger? They say nursing for take-off and landing is good for a baby's ears - keeps the pressure from building. The same reason a lot of people chew gum. You'd think a journalist worth her shit would think before making such a comment.


  • At 11:56 PM, June 10, 2005, Blogger dnyduck said…

    Haven't read her comment yet, but it doesn't sound good from your post. I'm really surprised, like you said, that a jouralist would open their big mouth like that. What a shame. I'm proud of the fact that I am nursing Devin and will continue to do so until I can't or he's a year old. I have a feeling it's not going to last much longer, but I'm trying.

  • At 8:01 AM, June 11, 2005, Blogger Melissa said…

    Oh my lord! I don't get to catch the View because I'm at work but I usually like it. What a total idiot.

  • At 9:18 AM, June 11, 2005, Anonymous Kate said…

    As women we need to SUPPORT other women.... no matter how they choose to feed their child. I mean really - if we don't have each other's backs - WHO DOES????

    Whip that boob out ladies.....!

  • At 10:19 PM, June 11, 2005, Blogger Jewl said…

    I agree with what Kate said 100 percent. I hate hearing woman bash eachother when it comes to FF or BFing... As a mother you do what you think is best for your child, why can't we support eachother on that? As far as BW... I think she just has her damn nose too high up in the air, I mean for crap sake, she has boobs herself, why would she feel uncomfortable?

  • At 8:40 AM, June 13, 2005, Blogger WILLIAM said…

    "I have to say, if one of those things was coming at me, I would cry too." That is funny.

    I understand both sides of the argument here but I think that nursing is something that should be done in private. But I am a man so I know that my opinion does not carry much weight.

    By the way I appreicate the 'Tag" for the other day but I have been too busy to respond. hopefully soon.

  • At 9:44 AM, June 13, 2005, Anonymous Kelli said…

    What Kate said. :)

    I can't believe Barbara said was irresponsible and ignorant.
    No other country besides America seems to have problems with the whole bfeeding issue...I really don't understand what the big deal is.


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