Everyone knows that postpartum moms are a little bit nuts. There’s the hormones, the sleep deprivation, and the I-just-popped-a-baby-from-my-vagina-or-got-one-cut-out-of-me.
She has shared charge of an actual human being, who will expire if left sitting on the middle of the floor for too long. This would make anyone crazy.
Then, add breastfeeding into the mix.
Breastfeeding moms are no more or less crazy than formula feeding moms, but breastfeeding makes you crazy in ways formula feeding doesn’t. I know — I’ve full-term nursed three kids.
I loved mostly every minute of it, but I know I seemed downright insane to most of the non-nursing world. Here’s why:
1. You see your nipples as merely another bodily appendage.
No more are they special, secret places you keep under wraps at all times. No way. Your nipples are now food delivery devices.
Your baby will turn his head and stretch them in ways you never thought possible. And if you pump — the Luna Motif is great, by the way — what happens to your nipples will look like something from a fetish video. You won’t care about any of these things.
2. You become proud of your boob size.
Big or small, medium or in-between, you’re proud of your breasts because they’re keeping a human being alive.
Your bras may range into the middle-end of the alphabet — and more properly be termed “harness” — but darn it, they’re feeding little Braylynn. High-five, boobies!
3. You develop a nickname for your boobs.
You’ll ask your baby if they want ta-ta, or milkies, or na-nas, possibly even boobie. When other people overhear you, they’ll look at you like you just shouted the word “penis” in a crowded hallway.
4. You plan your wardrobe around your boobs, and access thereof.
You can’t go to the mall in that dress, because even if it does fit you from your postpartum days, you can’t get to the ladies. Your husband in particular will not understand this.
When you don’t do the two-shirt trick (one up, one down), you’ll mostly settle for v-necks you can pull over.
5. At first, you worry endlessly about who can see your breasts.
You use a nursing cover. You pull and tug and do everything in your power to make sure no one sees so much as a millimeter of skin, you dirty, dirty girl.
Nipples are private, and nursing is private, and you’re terrified someone might see what you’re doing.
6. Then, you stop caring who sees, in a radical way.
Take a good long look, Trucker Man. Baby has to eat, and I need to feed him, so you’re going to see some boob along the way.
Get over it — it’s a human breast, and you see more of that on Victoria’s Secret model than you do on nursing mothers, anyway.
7. You fantasize about getting yelled at for nursing.
This is either your worst nightmare (see lady with the cover), or you’re ready to go toe-to-toe with management over your right to nurse in any establishment you have the right to be in.
But you think about it on a regular basis, plan what you would say, and what you’d tell your girlfriends afterward.
8. You taste your own breastmilk.
Anyone who says they haven’t is a liar, liar, pants on fire. At some point in your nursing career, you absolutely have to see what it tastes like. Just once. For the record: vanilla ice cream.
9. You obsess about your “supply.”
For those not in the know, “supply” means how much breastmilk you’re producing at any one time. You might worry you have oversupply and that’s why the baby’s throwing up. Or, that you have a low supply, and the baby isn’t peeing enough.
While worries about supply will fade as the baby gets older, they never quite go away. You’ll find yourself wondering if your growing toddler needs extra milkies when it’s hot outside.
10. All of a sudden, you can imagine nursing a toddler.
Before you said uh-uh, no way, super gross … once they can ask for it, they should be cut off. Or, once they have teeth, they should be finished.
But as your baby gets bigger, you slowly realize that when you make the decision to keep nursing every single day, you’re eventually nursing a toddler. And your toddler is still such a baby. Full-term nursing for the win.
11. Unless you’re a saint, you go through a phase where you judge formula-feeding moms.
Thinking your choice is far superior to theirs is a way for you to validate your own choice and feel that you’re raising your child the right way. Insecure new moms need that validation, so they take it out on formula-feeders, a super convenient target.
Luckily, the vast majority of nursing moms grow out of their judgy phase. Most of them.
12. You get excited about growing an actual person.
These hooters, right here, are the reason the baby gained three pounds. Boobs, I wish I could high-five you. Other people might think this is weird, but they’ve never grown a person with their own body.
13. You give “the look” to other nursing moms.
When you see another mom nursing in public, you at least give her a nod. Depending on your level of obsession, you may say hi, or even thank her for nursing where other people can see her.
When you reach this level, you’re what people call a “lactivist,” and that’s not a bad thing.
14. You covet normal sleep.
Oh, you sleep. If you co-sleep, you sleep as much as any person with a baby possibly can (i.e. a lot). But you’re constantly half-woken by a tiny person demanding to switch sides.
This pattern of half-waking can make you insanely covetous of the days when you slept without touching another person, for hours on end. If you don’t co-sleep, you’re awake all the time and probably exist in a delirious state of sleep deprivation.
15. You start viewing breastmilk as a miracle cure-all.
Got a cut? The stem cells in breastmilk will take care of that. Eye infection? Put on milk on it. If Bob Costas has known a lactating woman, he would’ve been back to commentating in a day.
Breastmilk cures all things. Your insistence on this will make your household crazy.
Seriously, how do you think breastfeeding women go crazy?
Elizabeth Broadbent is a regular columnist for ADDitude magazine and a frequent contributor to Scary Mommy. Her work has appeared on xojane, Mamapedia, Babble.com, and Time Magazine Ideas. She blogs at Manic Pixie Dream Mama. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.