Picture this: You’re finally getting out of the house with your new baby. Your pediatrician gave you the thumbs up to take her out in public, and after weeks of round-the-clock breastfeeding and fewer showers than normal, you pull up to a department store. You click her carseat into the stroller and walk into the store. You feel great. You’re wearing a cute nursing top and even brushed your hair! After a splendid 30 minutes a woman approaches you, smiles, and speaks quietly near your ear, “Listen,” she says. “You’re leaking. Do you know where the nursing pads are? If not, I’ll show you.”
You look down and realize you’ve been cruising the store with two big, wet circles on your shirt. A few minutes later in the nursing aisle, you toss one, then two boxes of nursing pads into your cart and thank the woman profusely. “Oh,” she says, “I’ve been there.”
Breastfeeding is wonderful, but when it’s hard and even exhausting, these awkward moments can offer some comic relief:
The Loud Eater
Some babies are chuggers. They latch on, suck hard, and swallow like an athlete at the end of a triathlon. If you’re out in public, everyone within a small radius will get to hear the sucks, sighs and glug-glugs of your baby thoroughly enjoying her feeding. Just smile and carry on, mama.
The Forceful Letdown
Some women have “overactive letdown” (milk that comes out really quickly, usually due to an oversupply of milk). It’s a tricky issue that a lactation consultant can help you manage, but it will likely leave you with some funny memories—like your baby pulling off your breast when your milk lets down, and it sprays all over the room, or the wall, or (oops) the legs of the man sitting next to you on an airplane.
Your New Accessory: The Pump
Ah, The Pump. It comes in several makes and models, with endless choices of cute carrying cases. You can even buy a special bra for hands-free pumping, so you can pump and, say, cook dinner at the same time! And, nothing brings excitement into a partnership quite like the nightly pumping session, when you sit next to your loved one with a pump dangling from your chest, the loud, rhythmic whir of the motor drowning out the sound of the TV.
The Search for a Breast On Someone Else’s Chest
There might be a day when someone else, like your brother in-law, is holding your baby and she starts rooting around his chest for a breast. “Sorry, sweetie!” you might say, a little too loudly, as you scoop her up. “No milk there!”
Flashing: It Happens
Some women are comfortable nursing without a cover, and others are more modest. No judgment here. But if you’re on the modest end of the spectrum, there will inevitably be a time (or times) when you flash someone. It’s usually only embarrassing for a few seconds, unless it’s your father in-law. Just cover up and start talking about the weather.
It’s All Worth It at the End of the Day
You’re rocking and nursing your baby in the dark, while everyone else in the house sleeps. It’s quiet except for the noises of her sucking and swallowing. You notice the warmth of her body, the way she smells, and the tininess of her hand on your chest. There will be a moment (or many) like this, maybe on an early morning around 3 a.m. You’ll be wearing one of your forever milk-stained tops and you’ll be tired, but you’ll know that it’s all worth it at the end of the day.