Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Breasts and Their Milk

Here is a picture Grey took of me nursing this week. My hair looks weird and this picture is blurry and underlit.
Why isn't my three year-old a more professional photographer? Sheesh. 
August is sick. He isn't hospital-sick (for which I am extremely grateful), but he is sick enough that I need to forcibly pin him down (with the help of 4+ other capable adults) and suction out his nose every few hours. (Why are babies so strong?)
I'm up much of the night listening to his pathetic little cough and making sure that he's still breathing, and have spent the last few days being napped and drooled on while my big kids destroy the house around me.
I don't mind, really. It's not like I'm the one who's really suffering in this.
BUT, I'm a little annoyed that people keep trying to tell me that breastfed babies don't get sick.
Because my four month old has been sick like this twice. And my big kids (who are no longer breastfed- but were for a long time) are sick pretty much once a week.
And while we're at it: they have allergies and asthma and so do I. (Also breastfed.)

People. Let's clarify something: breastmilk is great. It is nutritional. It is made for your specific baby. It has some kind of antibody-some-or-other to help your baby keep from getting sick. #breastisbest, etc.
But it's also milk. It's not medicine.
When people tell me to squirt breastmilk into my child's ear to solve an ear infection, I actually want to laugh out loud.
Science. Can I explain science to you? Those aren't ear drops and even if they were, an ear infection is on the other side of that eardrum. And even if your magical milk could penetrate the eardrum, the problem is an excess of fluid back there. Adding your milk is not going to solve this problem. Okay. Tiny Ear Infection Rant over.

But my baby is all breastfed. He has literally never had anything from a bottle, even more breast milk. I nurse him unashamedly in public, because when a baby is hungry- you feed him. And I love to talk to my kids and other adults about breastfeeding, because I like it and think people don't know a lot about it.
Yes. I'm feeding August this way because breast is best. It is healthy, natural, free of charge, conveniently located on my chest and already warmed to the right temperature.
Mostly, that's it.
When August was a newborn, I was texting with another mom about breastfeeding and how stressful and guilt-ridden it can be. She said something along the lines of, "I know Moms who breastfeed are heroes and whatever, but..."
And I actually laughed out loud when I read that text.
Come on, people.
My kids would also describe breastfeeding moms as heroes, but mostly because they think it's a super power to be able to shoot milk from your body.
They really wish I could shoot frozen milk, or milk from my hands instead of my breasts- but you gotta take what you get when it comes to super powers.
But in general, breastfeeding moms aren't heroes. They're moms who don't want to buy formula.

Sure, I know there are probably some moms out there who have tackled unconquerable odds to breastfeed and they're heroes and whatever. But we're not talking about them. We are talking about regular run-of-the-mill moms who are looking up cupcakes on Pinterest while their baby nurses.
Maybe it's blogs like this and others, maybe it's Facebook, maybe it's that darn Upworthy- but we seem to want every little thing we do to be EPIC.

Just calm down, everybody. Calm your milky tits down.
(Okay. I wanted to title this post "Calm Your Milky Tits Down" but decided it was inappropriate. But I really needed to work that charming expression into this post somewhere.)

So, breastfeeding usually looks like this to me:
My baby makes a noise that is unhappy-ish (rarely cries, because he's perfect.) I look at the clock and go, "Oh, it's been three hours since you ate. Are you hungry?" I pull up my shirt. He latches on and eats. He pulls off to watch his noisy brothers and I shout say calmly, "Go play in another room for a few minutes, you're too distracting."
My big kids leave, and I continue to nurse August while scrolling through Etsy on my phone. August falls asleep at the breast. My breast, which is extremely anxious to please and good at what it does, continues to squirt milk like a mini-firehose into August's open mouth. It runs out of his mouth and on to my clothes. I notice, but don't mind, because it's nice to sit here in the semi-silence and hold my baby and look at my phone.
Eventually, he stirs again (probably because my noisy kids have come back). He keeps eating. He finishes and sits up and burps. I do it again on the other breast.
Here are some words I would use to describe those 20 minutes:

(I would not use the word heroic here.)

Sometimes I think I would be a kick-A lactation consultant, because I'm not a crazy-person. I nursed two extremely difficult preemie babies and I did it at the same time, so I know that nursing can be a bitch. I know it can be something you want really, really badly. I know it can be hard, frustrating, exhausting, but possible.
But I also know that sometimes it's not possible.

If I were a lactation consultant, I would never say things to women like, "In 20 years of experience, I've never met a woman who couldn't breastfeed if she really tried."
Because in 3 years of experience, I've met multiple women who tried and cried and broke their hearts trying to breastfeed and failed.
I would definitely not say, "If it hurts when you breastfeed, you're doing something wrong."
Because, news flash, when someone sucks on your tender nipples for like 8 hours a day - even if it's a tiny wee babby with a perfect latch- sometimes those nipples are going to blister, bleed, crack, and feel like exploding.
And I would never ever tell a sobbing new mom (as I was told) that her babies would get asthma, allergies, and diabetes if she stopped nursing.

In fact, I'd probably say cool stuff like, "DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. Your baby will not die if you give him formula - it's just going to be an expensive pain in the butt, but at least you can leave your baby with a sitter someday, unlike the rest of us poor saps. But if you want help and support, I got some of that for you, sister. Now calm your milky tits down."

Hey. Don't leave a comment on this post unless it's something awesome like, "You're hilarious!"
I don't really care for comments like, "Moms who are into breastfeeding are the worst!" because they're great, and I support breastfeeding and I especially support Moms.

Also, don't leave a comment like, "BREASTMILK WILL ACTUALLY SOLVE EAR INFECTIONS." because even if you leave me some facts and statistics, I'm not going to read them, and I definitely won't click on any links to anything. Unless it's a hilarious link. But not someone doing the ice bucket challenge, because stop. Just donate.

Also, if you want to read more of my posts about breastfeeding, which are all as awesome as this one, click {here.}

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Jeannie Bruce said...

Becky Pritcher, you make my mornings. I love opening up my internet and reading your blog posts every day.

Jeannie Bruce said...

Why in the world that that type Pritcher instead of Pitcher? Goofy computer and most likely my goofy fingers

Alexa said...

yep, you're hilarious. i'm not a mom yet and i can only hope to have a support system full of women like you when the day comes.

Molly S said...

I'm like borderline obsessed with breastfeeding. Mine is 17 months and even my husband is like, um, this is getting weird...? Whatev. It's like a BUILT-IN break once you get used to it. I never tried the ear infection thing. Didn't make sense to me, either. However, I did use it on a scratched eyeball. One bloody tear was enough to have me dashing off to the ped ER. Scratched cornea, they said. Here's some antibotics. Maybe I'm kinda crunchy, but I said ... no, thanks. Dropper of "liquid gold" and he seemed better the next morning. But who knows.

everything you do is hilarious.

The Jacksons said...

"Breastfeeding moms aren't heroes. They're moms who don't want to buy formula." <--- That right there is me. I like breastfeeding, but it's inconvenient sometimes. And it's stressful at times. And sometimes I just want to give my baby a damn bottle. But I'm so freaking cheap, I refuse to buy formula. So 7 months later here we are still breastfeeding and now he refuses to take even boob milk from a bottle. Also, calm your milky tits down is my new favorite phrase :)

Lana said...

Hey I agree with all your words today (and usually). I feel sad that "bitch" is an acceptable word. I still hate it and wish it would get off of TV and everything else.

Jocelyn said...

I like this post. I think way too much pressure is put on moms to feed one way or another. Just feed the baby however works best for you, and feel good about it. Formula is good. Breastfeeding is good. Use one, or both, and no pressure either way. A new study came out earlier this year in February ( that showed there is no long term difference (in intelligence, obesity, allergies, and more) between formula fed babies and breastfed ones. Just do what you like best!

Strong Clan said...

This has to be my favorite post you have ever done. I agree 100%
Dexter is my boob boy. But guess what, he has been sicker than a dog since he was born. He is currently sick now. He only gets breastmilk and only from the boob because guess what? He won't touch a cup, bottle, or anything that isn't my breast.
Max on the other hand, he was formula fed, has hardly been sick, and well is a tank. He has other issues, but being sick hasn't been one of them.

I agree - I wish my milk would shoot out frozen!!

Thalia said...

I LOVE reading about your wonderful little family. I agree about feeding babies...breast is best but bottle if you so desire. As long as mommy & baby are happy, that is what matters. I did both and both my children have grown into beautiful, intelligent ladies with babies of their own.

Casey said...

HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA. Oh Becky. Thanks. Any time someone gives me flak in the future about nursing, I'm sending them this link. You are the best. Thanks for supporting all moms. Not just the ones whose tits work... haha

Hannah said...

I have a one-month old and I am new to the brestfeeding world...but this made me laugh out loud in SO many ways. Spot on. Thank you!

Ashley said...

Thank you for this. My baby boy was born just a few days before yours. He was my first and I was excited to breastfeed. He struggled so much with it but I was determined to "get it". Many tears and pumping sessions later, my milk dried up and I had to turn to formula after only three weeks. It was hard and I felt like a failure. I think many people forget that some women don't have a choice. A little understanding goes a long way. Dealing with a newborn is hard enough. Mothers shouldn't have to deal with judgmental strangers as well.

Jessica and colby said...

I have read all the blog posts but thus by far is my favorite. We aren't pioneers anymore we have options. I love it. So true. People are crazy with their boob milk.

MARCIE said...

Love this discription.

Courtney said...

Thank you for this post! I am not a mother yet, and I haven't made a decision about whether or not I will breastfeed my children in the future, but it's so refreshing to hear someone tell it how it is and not try to guilt me into breastfeeding.

Katie said...

J/k. It won't.

This was a funny post.

Amanda said...


I've been unsuccessful in breastfeeding all 3 of my kids, and immensly jealous of mothers who can. Your description, however, has made me feel a bit better about what I'm missing out on!

And I will FOR SURE steal "Calm your milky tits down"!!

Camille Spence said...

This is freaking hilarious. Nursing my 12 day old as I read this and laughing so hard he keeps losing his latch (sorry, baby!).

The milk squirting into their sleeping mouth and running down your shirt....So. My. Life.