The Breastfeeding Parent’s Gratitude List

By Jessica Martin-Weber and the Leakies

There are many reasons to be grateful for breastfeeding including ease of access, financial savings (though, let’s be honest, we’re not always saving that much money with breastfeeding), and happy babies. But there are reasons far beyond that. It is always helpful and good for us to cultivate gratitude and with breastfeeding, it can be really easy to do. To help us get started, we asked the followers over on The Leaky Boob Facebook page and The Leaky Boob Facebook Group. Here’s the list we came up with:

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I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I have a good excuse to sit down.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because without it I wouldn’t have an excuse to whip my breasts out around strangers.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because now I know what it is like to have my chest head butted by a 9 month old.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because even though I’m fine breastfeeding in front of others, I appreciate the chance to escape to a quiet room every once in awhile to have to feed the baby.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I have to shop for new clothes that will let me get a boob out.

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I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I get extra breaks at work to pump and relax, LOL!

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because I get the chance to cuddle my adventurous kiddo that otherwise doesn’t ever sit still.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it guarantees one satisfied family member at meal times!

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I get a break in chasing after the toddler and my partner has to take over while I feed the baby and scroll through Facebook.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it is portable and always ready, it’s the perfect food-on-the-go.

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I’m grateful for breastfeeding because having a tiny human being shriek hysterically for me to get my shirt off has made me feel so needed.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because hooking up to a machine to suck my boobs is just such an unforgettable experience.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means that feeding the baby is one thing that I won’t have to plan while driving 10 hours each way to spend Thanksgiving with family!

I am grateful for breastfeeding because of the meltdowns that I avoided by whispering in my 2 year old’s ear “want some booby?”

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because taking a shower is way more enjoyable than washing extra bottles. Or it would be if I got to take one.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because with safe cosleeping, I can feed and sleep at the same time.

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I am grateful for breastfeeding because it saves me money so I can buy more wine and brownies.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because I really am eating for two so a second piece of pie is totally reasonable.

I’m grateful for the terror it saves me of not having to go downstairs in the dark in case there are ghosts.

I’m grateful for being able to breastfeed my children for the fact that I can hold them more them anyone else and make the ‘they are hungry’ excuse if I don’t want someone holding them.

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because it means I (personally) don’t have to drug my toddler when he’s teething. Oxytocin for the win!

I’m grateful for breastfeeding because now I know what it is like to smell like sour milk all day, every day.

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Jessica Martin-Weber

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, and creator and author of the children’s book and community of What Love Tastes Like, supporter of A Girl With A View, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. She co-parents her 6 daughters with her husband of 19 years and is currently writing her first creative non-fiction book.
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Babymooning- 12 signs you are the mother of a breastfeeding newborn

I’m babymooning.  Sugarbaby and I are doing very well, now 12 days postpartum.  I’ve been trying very hard to take it easy and respect this postpartum time for myself and it has been paying off.  Over the last almost 2 weeks I’ve been simply enjoying my baby, my family, and resting.  Cherishing this newborn time that goes too fast has been my priority.
I wanted to share some observations I’ve made during my babymoon, maybe you can relate and I’m sure you can add some of your own.
You know you’re the mom of a breastfeeding newborn when…
  1. You finally get to take a shower and within 10 minute of getting out you already have leaked milk all over your clean shirt.
  2. As much as you like the longer, thicker hair you grew during pregnancy, hacking it off with a dull pair of scissors is starting to sound like a good plan between the frequency of showers you get, the death-like grip of a tiny handful of hair your baby is capable of, cleaning spit up out of it several times a day, and the nagging fear of a hair tourniquet.
  3. You wonder why you didn’t invest in more yoga pants and are certain you will never wear blue jeans again.
  4. Your favorite food is: “anything someone else made.”
  5. Any time someone hugs you any way but with a side hug you wince.
  6. The old adage “never wake a sleeping baby” doesn’t apply when your boobs are rock hard boulders crushing your chest.  Yes, you will wake your baby for some relief.
  7. You wish you had jedi powers for every time you forget to grab a drink of water before you sit down to breastfeed… again.
  8. “Sleep when baby sleeps” seems like a good plan but you wonder when you’d get to pee or brush your teeth or eat.  Then you realize that sleep trumps everything else and decide you’ll pee, brush your teeth, and eat while holding your baby.
  9. Something seems really funny and you laugh hysterically only to forget what was so funny 5 minutes later.
  10. Shirts are “clean” unless the smell is too bad or there is obvious spit-up or poop on them, dried milk leaks don’t count as “dirty.”
  11. The stash of reusable breastpads that seemed so impressive before giving birth is used up in one day after your milk comes in.
  12. You’d rather sniff your baby’s head snuggled on your chest than even your favorite flower any day.

The Leakies on The Leaky Boob Facebook page had plenty more here and I hope you’ll add your own in the comments below.  Now back to my baby head sniffing!

 

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Breastfeeding = Breastfeeding

“You look like a breastfeeder.”

I had just met the woman that said that to me and we were not even 10 minutes into our first conversation.  We met at a friend’s birthday party when the what-do-you-do question came up and I mentioned The Leaky Boob.  After explaining what TLB is to her “excuse me, say what?” response she surprised me with her response.  After I got over my own shock at her statement I wanted to say “why yes, of course I look like a breastfeeder, I’m a woman with a baby!”  Instead, I laughed.  Because I knew exactly what she meant.

I was offended a little bit though, in part because I didn’t think I did look like a breastfeeder at that moment.  Often I do but I was actually pretty not-breastfeeder looking that day, I thought.  I really thought my style was funky-artsy-cool.  Then it hit me, I was offended that someone thought I looked like a breastfeeder.  I mean, my hair was short and funky, I was wearing my cool cat style green glasses, blue jeans, halter top and a hoodie.  My nails were even done!  As you can see from the pic below, just a quick head shot on my phone I know, but taken on that very day, I don’t scream breastfeeder, do I?

Except for the female part.  And the breast part.  And the kids part.  And maybe The Leaky Boob part.

But I don’t want to look like a breastfeeder outside of those things.  Because it has a certain connotation in our culture.  Looking like a breastfeeder means you look weird.  Means only a certain type breastfeed. It means that as of yet breastfeeding is not so normal in our society and there is a brand that goes along with breastfeeding that is more specific than a person with breasts that can lactate and children.  Really, every single woman should look like a breastfeeder, not just one type.

I have to tell you something.  It’s not exactly easy for me to admit this and I’m afraid you’ll look at me differently but I need to get this out there:

The truth is I’m a pretty green mom.  Green as in… crunchy.  As in environmentally aware and “natural.”  As in we use cloth napkins and cloth diapers, have home births and we choose an alternative vaccination schedule.  We have almost no plastic play things and avoid most trademarked characters on clothing and toys as well.  I really, really am pretty crunchy.  But I think of myself as funky-normal, a variation of mainstream.  I can’t always afford to buy organic and I really like make up.  I haven’t recycled my glass in like 2 years because the city doesn’t pick it up and there isn’t a drop off anywhere near me and after lugging boxes of glass bottles around in my van for months I decided that I was probably wasting so much gas from the weight of the glass in my car that it totally offset recycling them- if I ever got to recycle them.  Oh, and I haven’t been to a homeopath since I had kids.  No Birkenstocks either.  There are plenty of not natural, non-organic probably bad for you products in my house, some of them we eat.  Also, I have a PILE of reusable shopping bags, I’ve even made some of them but I forget them more often than I take them with me to the store.  So I’m green but not green.  Not Kelly green, more like 1970’s linoleum avocado green and I have the glasses to prove it.

I have another confession.

While it is true that we avoid prepackaged foods and artificial colors and flavors in our foods we go to fast food a couple of times a month and my kids get candy full of crap 2-3 times a week.  Some of you are shaking your head going “tsk, tsk, she’s poisoning her kids!” and others are going “yeah so, we go out to some place like that every meal or would if I could afford it and I freaking LOVE Skittles.”  Personally, I’m with both of you.  I wasn’t allowed to have that stuff growing up and my mom made us have healthy substitutes instead.  We’d take our own piece of cake to birthday parties, adults would never give us the candy other kids got because my mother warned them not to, we’d get these sesame honey stick things my mom called “good candy” instead and the snacks we brought to play groups looked suspiciously similar to mulch.  Everyone looked at me sympathetically.  I hated being that kid.  H-A-T-E-D IT.  So I don’t make my kids be that kid.  They eat the crap candy their teacher hands out.  And in full disclosure, my lactivist self is a traitor and I even let my kids eat the Nestlé candy they get.  Shame on me, right?

I have another confession.

Most labels make me uncomfortable.  If I were to use one to describe myself someone could quickly point out how I am not that.  Every time I try to label myself I have an immediate exception ready.  So I don’t call myself an attachment parent.  But I do wear my babies, they sleep in our room, there is almost always a parent with them when they are young (me or The Piano Man and rarely sitters), and we don’t spank.  That said, I also believe in regularly leaving them for my own sanity and because I’m a better parent when I do, I like my stroller, and sometimes I pump a bottle of milk just because I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack if I have a baby on my boob one more time.  And I LIKE it that way, it works for my family.  Which by some standards means I fail attachment parenting.  By other standards it means I win at label-rejection I guess.

I have another confession.

We homeschool.  But I don’t want to.  In fact, I have such a hard time with it I almost can’t say it out loud.  It’s been a struggle for me for the last 4 years and as a homeschool graduate myself I swore I would never, ever homeschool.  NEVER.  I knew I wasn’t cut out for it even before I had kids and I still know I’m not.  If The Piano Man didn’t homeschool with me and we didn’t have some great homeschool programs there is no way we’d be making it.  Obviously I feel our reasons to homeschool are important enough to be doing it right now but it’s not going to be this way forever because I can’t wait to send my kids to school. Besides, I don’t look like a homeschooler either.  Right?

I have another confession.

I’m a lactivist but I don’t particularly love breastfeeding.  True story.  As a lactivist I have lots of thoughts about formula and formula companies.  Shocker, right?  Here’s the real shocker: I don’t think formula is poison!  gasp  Though I think there need to be better standards, higher quality ingredients and a heck of a lot better regulations, I’m never going to say formula is poison.  I also don’t think a mom bottle feeds because she’s lazy or selfish even if she claims that’s why.  Nope.  Instead I think there are much bigger, much deeper issues involved that she may not even understand but are a result of the booby traps so prevalent in our society and I don’t want any mom that doesn’t breastfeed to feel guilty about it.  Should I hand in my lactivist card now?  Should I be smacked and scolded “bad lactivist!” and denounced?

I have another confession.

I was a breastfeeding mom from the get-go even when I was decidedly not “crunchy.”  Before I recycled or used cloth diapers, I breastfed.  When we ate Hamburger Helper regularly as part of my rebellion in getting to eat whatever I wanted and I didn’t even know what MSG or Red 40 was, I breastfed.  When I had one carrier I hated, kept my baby in her bucket car seat all the time and planned on spanking to discipline, I breastfed.  When I worked full time, had a hospital birth, and bought every Winnie the Pooh decoration and toy I could find, I breastfed.  The idea that it was a “natural parenting” choice didn’t even occur to me.  These things weren’t even on my radar and I’d never even heard most of these terms.  In fact, over 12 years ago I went to a La Leche League meeting and was completely freaked out by my experience there and those “natural types.”  I didn’t co-sleep, didn’t want to garden, and couldn’t handle the idea of putting a candle in an ear to cure an ear infection.  Since I didn’t fit in I never went back.  But I did keep breastfeeding in spite of having almost no support.

Recently I’ve seen conversations that almost assume that everyone that breastfeeds is on the same page regarding every parenting choice.  Like we’re a club that talks, walks, dresses, eats and sleeps the same.  But we’re not.  The mom across the street from me breastfed her son for close to a year, pumping for him when she returned to work.  Unlike me she lets her son eat prepackaged food daily, have character toys and clothing and she has him fully vaccinated.  Like me, she does curbside recycling.  Also like me?  She loves her child more than she could begin to articulate.  I admire her, she’s an awesome mom and I’ve learned a lot from her and I hope maybe she’s learned some things from me.

Here’s the thing: the natural parenting/crunchy/hippie/green/stay-at-home-mom/work-at-home-mom/gentle-parenting/natural birthing/what-ever-you-want-to-add-here communities do not have the corner on breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding ≠ all natural parenting.  Breastfeeding ≠ attachment parenting.  Breastfeeding ≠ crunchy.  Breastfeeding ≠ a parenting style.  Breastfeeding ≠ rejecting mainstream parenting.  Aside from having lactating breasts, there are no real parenting style requirements to breastfeed.  No card to carry that you’re in danger of losing if your baby sleeps in a crib in another room.  Every woman that breastfeeds is a part of the breastfeeding mom club no matter how long she breastfed, where her baby sleeps, what she eats, how she introduces solids, where she gave birth, if she stays home or works, if she loves her stroller or has a dozen carriers, if she used a form of sleep training that involved cry-it-out or if she co-sleeps, if she vaccinates or doesn’t vaccinate, if she circumcises or is staunchly against it, if she covers when breastfeeding in public or just puts her baby to her breast, or even if she uses formula to supplement.  Other moms don’t have to agree with or like her choices but it doesn’t change the fact that if they breastfeed they are all still breastfeeding moms.  Moms that are the more natural, crunchy types are just as much mothers and breastfeeders in need of support as those that are more mainstream types or those that defy labels completely.  And vice-versa.

I worry sometimes that if breastfeeding is perceived to be a part of the complete “natural” package we will discover some push back against it completely.  What if they’re not interested in co-sleeping but are willing to breastfeed and then in the experience of looking for breastfeeding help and support they discover they are also expected to co-sleep?  Or a new mom plans on breastfeeding for the first 6 weeks, encounters some difficulty but is determined to get through it only to ask for help and get chastised for not planning to breastfeed until the child self-weans?  If it starts feeling like it has to be all or nothing as though breastfeeding is some sort of lifestyle then for some it will be easier and less intimidating to choose nothing than to choose all and fail.  Breastfeeding isn’t a move to pick up any label or style of parenting.  Being a breastfeeding mom doesn’t automatically make someone a babywearing mom, or a co-sleeping mom or a gentle parenting advocate.  Being a breastfeeding mom means she’s just that, a breastfeeding mom and whatever else she chooses to be.  You don’t have to adopt all or even any of the stereotypical aspects of “those natural types” in order to be a breastfeeding mother.  Just because I eventually did doesn’t mean it’s right for you and I can respect that and still support and encourage you.  Personally, I seek to support and empower women, families, parents and breastfeeding moms and their supporters regardless of their labels and choices in parenting styles.

It’s not that we can’t talk about these different choices, we can and should.  In fact, it is through encouraging and respectful dialogue about different choices we’ve made that others can be empowered to consider something other than what they already know.  For many, that’s probably how they even considered breastfeeding in the first place.  So let the conversation flow freely but let’s be careful that we don’t have a string of parenting style requirements to breastfeed and be willing to put aside our differences and still offer genuine support.  I hope we get to the place where you can’t pick a breastfeeding mom out of the crowd based on how she’s dressed or how she interacts with her children or what baby products she has with her.  That regardless of our other parenting and even lifestyle choices breastfeeding is just so normal that we don’t assume breastfeeding women look or act a certain way other than being a mom.  Whether she’s a fashionista like Kourtney Kardashian or a babywearing, homebirthing, Birkenstock sporting hippie or something in between several different stereotypes, a breastfeeding mom deserves to be supported regardless of her parenting approach.  Nobody has the monopoly on breastfeeding.  We can all be a part of the club and we all deserve support.  Just like no matter how we feed our babies we’re all a part of the mom club too.

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Do you fit any labels?  Or find that you are a little of this, a little of that?  How would you describe your parenting style and does that have any influence on your breastfeeding?  Do you find that sometimes you look down on others that parent differently than you?

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By the way, I think all of this goes for any other parenting choice.  However we feed our children, our family and household rules, discipline, educational choices, and so much more, we all have one thing in common for sure: we’re parents that love our children.

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