Stuff: Breasts

Not just for breastfeeding mothers – a squishy nipple or two is on the lazy parent’s must-have list whether or not it makes milk.

What are they?

Everyone has them, some bigger than others. If you’ve given birth, they should be full of milk – if this bit isn’t working for you, chat to other child-bearers in person and online about what you can do.

The suckling reflex – together with the hilarious Moro reflex – is part of a baby’s earliest instincts. Babies will suckle for hours, and it’s good for their brains. My breasts are the milk-bearing variety, as I grew our first baby, so she prefers mine – but my wife’s aren’t, and our daughter still uses them to calm, bond and help her sleep.

I’ll therefore refer to ‘nursing’ rather than ‘breastfeeding’ as you can do one without the other.

You might even find you start making milk even if your body hasn’t made a baby – whether you’re a cis woman, cis man, or transgender)  – looking at because using breasts to feed your baby too is so much easier.

Do I need one?

To be a lazy parent, hell yeah. You don’t ever have to get out of bed.

What about multiple children?

You can nurse two at once – either babies born together or kids of different ages. With two parents, you can do four at once.

How do I get them?

Look down!

What are the safety implications?

1. Nursing is pretty soporific, for baby and nurser. Be careful about where you fall asleep nursing, especially when the baby’s tiny and there’s a risk of suffocation. Falling asleep on a sofa is particularly risky.

2. Beyond that, there are all kinds of health issues that may come associated with breastfeeding (feeding specifically – I don’t think there’s enough data out there about nursing without feeding). I’m not in any way intending to make light of people who’ve had pain from it. But it’s important not to anticipate that you’ll have problems – the vast majority of women are able to breastfeed children they give birth to. Make sure you and your baby are comfy – readjust the latch if it’s hurting, and don’t worry too much about copying the set ‘nursing positions’. Make sure you’re signed up to a support mechanism – La Leche League are great; they have 24-hour support over the phone, email, and Facebook groups, and if you do hit a problem, ask the community – they’re full of help.

3. If you’re unlucky, you might meet someone who objects to you nursing your child in public. The safety implication for them is when you punch them in the nose.

How much are they?

Free! If you make your own baby, they probably even come with several years’ milk supply.

What are the alternatives?

Formula, bottles, sterilisers, dummies, getting up in the night a lot, rocking your baby, pacing up and down while they scream… I actually go a bit mad when I think about the alternative. It’s a lot of work.

Accessories

You might want to consider getting La Leche League membership (£30 a year, or £18 for unwaged.) They have stuff like 24 hour mother-to-mother support. (It’s limited to women, which is shame in one sense, but they are welcoming of all women, and aim to provide a safe space.) If you can’t even stretch to that though, other nursing parents are basically really ace and will happily provide a fountain of advice.

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