I am Brea, wife and mother of two. We are semi-crunchy parent’s who unknowingly practiced the (very trendy) “nursing on demand” with our first born baby boy. It’s funny, because it wasn’t even an intentional decision. He acted hungry, I nursed him. He acted fussy, I nursed him. I wanted him to go to sleep, well you get the point. Then our second child came along: A sweet, brown-eyed girl who asked for little from me, except to be close to me. All the time. And to nurse when ever she needed...and she needed to nurse A LOT. I’d say on average every 30-40 minutes, pretty much all day. Except in the evenings of course, when it turned into an “all you can eat” buffet.
Demands on me did not just double with two kids, but it felt more like quadrupled. Things were definitely getting more intense for me nursing. How I nursed Holden felt right, but I was finding it more and more difficult nursing Jo in this same manner. She may need to nurse on our walk, or at the park, or while grocery shopping or at church. While I believe every women has the right to nurse wherever she finds herself when her baby is hungry, that is a whole other post in it of itself. And honestly, I wasn’t always comfortable bearing my breast in all the situations I found myself; or I simply didn’t have time or a place to sit and nurse comfortably.
I was considering giving up and moving to pumped milk or formula. The work “nursing on demand” entailed was becoming too great, and I was struggling to maintain a balance that felt right to us as a family. The conversations in our household sounded something like “Is breast milk really so important that the whole family’s peace should be sacrificed for it?”
As ridiculous as it may sound, it wasn’t rhetorical. We were actually asking ourselves that. I really didn’t know: I had some saying “breastfeed above all!” and others saying “Formula is backed by science”. We spent so much time wading through all of this and praying for clarity and guidance. I supplemented with Holden, so it wasn’t that I was against formula at all. However, there was a heaping pile of guilt attached to that decision, and too many moments spent second guessing it. Time was a big factor, as I didn’t know where I would find time to pump milk and still have time to give her a bottle. More than anything, it came down to money. I didn’t think we could afford the added expense of formula at that time.
Before I hashed that issue out, I had the idea to make my first ring sling. My mom came down to help show me how to do it. There was no way I could’ve done it on my own, as if I wasn’t already overwhelmed enough with two babies under two and taking on a sewing project in my tiny kitchen-with no real sewing experience.
But to my relief, it went so well! I immediately fell in love with babywearing in a ring sling (even though my form in wearing it was way off!) It was so great because I could put it on in less than a minute. I had tried woven wraps before, but they required complicated ties and I could never get it right. Or by the time I did, the kids were in full blown melt down. I loved the way Woven Wraps looked, but it ended up just never being worth it. I tried buckle carriers, which are soft structured carriers that were easy to wear. However, the problem was that I felt silly wearing one with a dress to a wedding or on a date night with my husband.
Thankfully, Ring Slings were different.
#1: Complimented all my outfits.
#2: Were so easy to use.
#3: *Best of all* I could breastfeed as much as I wanted, and no one would have ever guessed!
When I realized all the benefits of wearing my babies in a ring sling, I had this moment when it seemed like the skies opened up. I heard angels singing as a huge weight was removed from my chest. I could breathe a bit easier and a bit deeper.
I honestly don’t think I even realized how overwhelmed I felt until that point when I felt relief.
I felt a bit of freedom. I could go to the grocery store and be confident that I wouldn’t have to leave an entire cart of food to spoil while I searched for a place to nurse. I wouldn’t have to try to keep Holden from putting his hand in a public toilet while trying to balance Jo on one knee to nurse, while also holding my shirt up with my teeth so I could make sure her latch was right. Nursing is a beautiful bonding experience, but doing so under these conditions negated many of those benefits.
This truly shouldn’t be a problem in the first place. Women should have access to nursing lounges. There should be a community of support to allow caregivers a comfortable place to tend to their babies needs. However, I live in reality where this is not the case, and unfortunately I have to modify my life to that.
I very recently stopped nursing, so the memories are vivid. I know what it’s like to know all the places that have comfortable family rooms, and what places I would get the least dirty looks if I choose to sit down and feed my hungry baby. It’s because of these experiences I’ve had that I believe that a comfortable baby carrier is the most essential new baby or new mom gift you could give.
In writing this post, I’m not trying to further the argument "Breast vs. Bottle" or make anyone feel bad that they did it one way or the other. I am blessed to be in a community of women who all do things their own way, but support each other in their decisions. In this, we know that we are all doing what we believe is best for those we love the most. I hope you all have a community like this. If not, I want to be a support you by encouraging you, helping with any motherhood questions you have. I’d love to hear what nourishing your growing baby looked like for you! Share your experiences in the comments below, I love hearing from you guys!