Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From the Nursing Chair: How to Hang Out While You're Hanging Out

This post is part of From the Nursing Chair, a series on the joys and challenges of breastfeeding twins.

If you come over to my house, you're probably going to see my boobs.

Tandem feeding means you feed two babies at the same time. I mean, the math works. But the logistics take time and patience (a natural proficiency for acrobatics doesn't hurt) to master. This isn't like the posters you see of serene (thin? well-rested??) mothers with one rosy-cheeked babe (and her hair is done?!), gazing down at him lovingly (holding him in one arm?? Her poor back...) while discretely hiding all of the food source except a tiny peep of bosom so smooth and milky white you might mistake it for a baby's cheek. No. Tandem feeding is full frontal nudity lunging over a giant nursing pillow, arms spread wide to collect your tiny brood to your bosom like a protective mama hen. Sure, the babies bellied up to the milk bar cover the X rated parts...until they are done, and decide to hide under the boob to sleep (Squeak), enjoy the softness of a boob pillow (who wouldn't?), or randomly startle backward, like a magician doing his big reveal!

What about a blanket tastefully drapped over the tender scene, you ask? Well, hormones make you hot. And double hormones make you feel like you've been roaming the savannah for 10 sun-baked days. Meanwhile, juggling the crying babies, fighting their tiny, razor-sharp claws, and stuffing two nipples different directions into two frantically grasping mouths is sweaty work, my friends. Add a large heavy cloth to the mixture? No thank you.

Now, I don't tandem feed in public. Much. I have done it in breastfeeding center (is that even considered 'public'?) and a couple times in a parking lot in the back of our car. But typically if I'm out and have to feed the boys, I do it one at a time under a blanket or hooter hider like everyone else. In my own home, however, I have no interest in hearing one hungry baby cry while I try to rush the other along just for the comfort of our guests. So I've spent a surprisingly lot of time chatting with friends while my top is completely exposed.

Here are some tips for making your guests feel, if not more comfortable, at least less horrified:

1. If you're eating while breastfeeding (and who are we kidding, of course you are), avoid wiping the crumbs out of your cleavage right away. I know they're itchy, but wait til you're in the bathroom. And while the guest is holding a baby and you're alone for one brief shining moment, catch up on flossing, nail trimming, ear-cleaning, and your mail.

2. Set up your throne in a room other than, but ideally adjacent to, the living room. This way people can select their own comfort level. Plus, you get to eavesdrop. Try to get your husband to get them to say something about you so you'll know what they really think.

3. Before handing off a baby, tuck that boob back into your bra. Nothing quite like realizing you've been wildly gesticulating for the past 10 minutes while your mammaries fly akimbo.

4. More reason to tuck the boob away immediately: the eager baby-holder might accidentally graze your nip with the back of their hand during transfer. The jury is still out on whom this is the most unpleasant for.

5. Interpret that wide-eyed, car-wreck-I-should-look-away-from stare thusly: wow! She's amazing! I could never do that! How impressive! And it's true: all those sweet little rolls and dimples your guests are admiring were made by you, times two, by your wonderful body. You are performing two miracles at once. Hang out with pride - and if someone has a problem, don't hang out with them :o)

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