The breastfeeding subject is so complex and so emotional; every mom has a completely different journey, and that makes it all the more amazing! Fact is, it provides all the same benefits whether it is done more publicly or within a more private setting. Mamas, shy breastfeeding is nothing to be shy about!
The journey of breastfeeding my child was one that took me for a complete 180. I did not take classes prior to my son’s birth, I did not understand a “let-down,” or what colostrum was. All I knew was that I had to find a path for feeding, and that I wanted to give breastfeeding a whirl.
The Realities & Routines
When we arrived home and got settled after my first birth, bam! That initial wave of engorgement hit hard. What in the world was a hands-free bra? I felt very unnatural being strapped to the tubes and pump; this was intense stuff. The crazy part was all of that was just to ease my pain and keep up, then we had actual feeding sessions alongside that.
Luckily, that stage was short-lived, and then, as we moms know happens, we started to ease into a routine. The pain faded, the creams actually started to help the chapping. The act of feeding itself was something that became maternal and truly calming to me. However, with a single feeding session, the logistics, and
at times, even pure exhaustion, stirred an anxious feeling inside.
Why So Shy Breastfeeding?
Becoming a “shy breastfeeder” wasn’t a deep thought as much as just my instinct and how my son tended to latch. While I did succeed right away, he liked to thrash around between sips, taking a second to look at his surroundings…always my Curious George. He loved to shift into new positions mid-feed, constantly changing things up. This all made public nursing even more challenging (as if it’s not already!). It also made my more private nursing sessions more of a need versus an outward choice.
When I was heading to a birthday party, an after-work event, or honestly even my in-laws’ house, I had anxiety building. My thoughts would be racing: where can I go slip away? How far are we parked? Can I pump? Did I pack everything I need? Even though it sounds like unnecessary stress, I realized every situation has its own drawbacks and, again, trusted what felt right for us.
As time went along, I made peace with it all. For me it was actually special bonding time for my family. I had times, on vacations for instance, where a very lightweight cover or a secluded outside patio may have felt like a safe space. I was flexible yet also knew when the setting made sense for us.
As with everything, I say trust your instincts! Yes, it makes outing logistics tougher, but it also made me confident in what I was doing. It allowed me to stay with breastfeeding longer than I ever thought possible.
Finding the Love in My Breastfeeding Journey
One of my proudest accomplishments has been the ability to nurse and do so successfully for 19 months of my son’s early life. I have to say I “loved” it all! I loved it even when I hated it. There was love even when I was massaging out a clogged duct or pressing milk onto a test strip (so I could enjoy a glass of wine with the girls). I kept that love strong all the way until I became pregnant again and lost my supply. I will never forget our last feeding session — the tears flowing — so proud of him and also so proud of us.
Being a shy breastfeeding mom allowed me to become more in-tune with the beautiful act and more present with my child during those moments. I encourage new moms to listen to your body, your mind, and your child’s signals.
I love learning more and more about this practice and all moms’ unique journeys. We have the path of exclusive breastfeeding, the exclusive formula, the exclusive pumpers, or a mix of all three. Public and private feeding mamas are both courageous, strong, and giving their children something irreplaceable in their earliest days. I never imagined being this mom, but it is SO rewarding and that breast-milk-magic kind of good!