by Jennie Bernstein
There are fashion junkies, pinterest junkies, home decorating junkies, birth junkies, health food junkies, exercise junkies, you name it. Anything can become a passion and then slip over into almost addictive behavior patterns. It’s all you really think about, it’s all you want to do, it’s what you can’t wait to get back to, too long without it and it’s what causes you to break out in a cold sweat. Like most teens with their smart phones. There is a point where it crosses over from a normal interest level to practically accosting strangers with information and wearing t-shirts announcing your fan status. Breastfeeding junkies can be particularly enthusiastic and start seeing breastfeeding and boobs everywhere thanks to breastfeeding on the brain, just itching to get back to breastfeeding information, support, and advocacy.
Wondering if you’re a breastfeeding junkie? They say it takes one to know one so here are 15 signs I’ve spotted in myself that may indicate I’m a bit of a breastfeeding junkie.
1. Every outfit you encounter is assessed for Breastfeeding compatability. In stores, online, random women on the street… All clothing is assessed on how well one could get a boob out. That 50 year old stranger’s smart looking outfit you mentally dissed because “her baby would be freaking out by the time she got her boob out of that dress” even though it’s obvious she wouldn’t currently have a nursling.
2. When out by yourself you find yourself checking out where a breastfeeding mom could find a comfortable spot to sit and feed her baby even though you won’t be using it.
3. If a store or business indicates they welcome breastfeeding moms you thank the person behind the counter for their support even though you don’t have a breastfeeding baby with you.
4. Without being asked, you are ready to launch into a detailed explanation of the composition of breastmilk whenever someone mentions any kind of milk.
5. You see what should be a somewhat disturbing nature video of something eating something else that has nothing to do with breastfeeding and think: “you know, what a good latch, look at those flared lips.”
6. You know HAMLET isn’t just a Shakespeare character.
7. Without meaning to you spot tongue ties in pictures of babies or talk with someone and notice they have some restriction and mentally cringe for that baby’s mom’s nipples wondering if there is restricted movement that led to nipple damage.
8. Coffee cups, lights, signs, hubcaps, patterns, gourds, melons, a pint of ice cream, you name it, you see breasts everywhere of everything. Life through boob colored glasses.
9. Somehow, someway, you always end up talking about breastfeeding. It just works it’s way into every conversation, even conversations with young single men. It happens so often it doesn’t even surprise you any more.
10. Off the top of your head you can cite the recommendations for breastmilk storage including the temperature and duration of storage, the signs for low milk supply, and
11. It’s not uncommon for you to get texts, emails, or calls from people you know asking for breastfeeding help for themselves or someone they know. Some of these come from men asking for their partner and new baby and nobody feels awkward about it.
12. You look forward to a nurse-in just so you can spend the day with a bunch of Breastfeeding moms and their babies.
13. It’s not uncommon for you to cry over and share the breastfeeding photos of others, even strangers, on your social media.
14. There is at least one breastfeeding crush in your life, an IBCLC, doctor, or advocate that you would love to meet and hang onto every word they say… about breastfeeding.
15. For baby gifts you put together a gift basket that includes breast pads, your favorite breastfeeding book, a list of online breastfeeding resources and support groups, phone numbers for local breastfeeding group leaders (you may be one) and IBCLCs, a water bottle for mom, a jar of nipple cream, a breastfeeding pillow, and a note to call any time she needs some breastfeeding help or encouragement.
If you are a breastfeeding junkie, there’s really not much you can do about it. Spend some time with your kiddos, open pinterest to distract yourself (no looking for breastfeeding on pinterest! Look for crafts, recipes, decorating, fashion, anything but breastfeeding), take up running, and find some balance. There is hope, you don’t have to be trapped in this place forever. Unless of course you’re ok with it, in that case just head over to The Leaky Boob Facebook page and help out all those moms needing the support of a junkie like yourself.
***Please note, this piece covers infant loss in detail and may be triggering for some.
My daughter Maya was stillborn at 35 weeks gestation. It was a sudden and devastating loss to find out that after an easy, uncomplicated pregnancy, she had died due to a cord accident. While still being in shock after her death and birth, I started to think about what to do once my milk came in. I knew early on that I wanted to try to pump for donation purposes, but wasn’t sure if I could really do it, physically and emotionally. I planned to just take it one pumping session at a time. I didn’t want to make a long term commitment and then fail. My milk came in when I woke up on the Friday after she died on Wednesday. I started pumping that day and collected maybe 2 ounces of milk during the first session.
I have two older children who I breastfed. When they were younger, I was working part-time and I only had to pump occasionally. Pumping exclusively after Maya’s birth was a challenge. I tried to pump 6- 7 times in a 24 hour period. Three weeks later, I was consistently getting about 5 ounces of milk per session. I was still taking it one session at a time, always worried that my supply was decreasing, or that I was just too tired to get up in the middle of the night to pump. I was very close to stopping maybe five weeks after Maya was born. I struggled for several days with whether to continue or stop. After talking to my husband and praying about it for several days, I felt a piece in my heart about continuing on this journey. It felt like a God given guidance that it was good to pump and good to continue for longer.
Three months went by and I was still pumping, though not as frequently, probably only about four times per day. I didn’t plan how long I would continue to pump because it my only connection to Maya.
Sometimes when I pumped during the day, one or both of my sons would sit with me, or play on the floor next to me. My younger son would ask, “Mommy, why do you have to pump?” or when I’m done, “Mommy, why are you stopping?” I have explained to them why I pump. Although I wasn’t sure they really understood, I recognized that it was okay. Once my younger son told my husband that he likes to play in our guest bedroom because that’s where mommy pumps.
Almost five months went by and I stopped pumping at the end of July – 4 1⁄2 months after Maya was born. I decreased my pumping frequently from four times to three times per day. I then limited the remaining pumping sessions to 10 minutes, then 9 minutes two days later, then 8 minutes, and so forth. I was eventually able to stop pumping without feeling engorged. It was a slow process of letting go, physically and emotionally.
In total, I pumped for 131 days, and donated 470 breast milk bags, an estimation of 2300 ounces of milk. I donated the milk to local moms through a Facebook page, which matches milk donors with moms looking for milk, who for various reasons do not have enough milk for their baby, or want to provide breast milk to their adopted child.
It has been a privilege and an honor to use Maya’s milk in a meaningful way. It was one of the few things I was able to do in my daughter’s name. It’s part of her legacy. It’s her milk. It was made for her, and I was able to give it to somebody else who needed it. On the difficult days, when I was tired or emotionally drained, I sometimes wondered whether it was worth it. I suspect that the recipient cannot appreciate the value of this milk to the full extent. There is a lot more meaning and love in this milk and the act of pumping and the invested time than the recipients will ever know. I imagine that Maya has been watching over our family from heaven, seeing me pump, and understands that it was for her. It’s her legacy and her memory that is being carried forward and passed on to others.
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