When I saw my breast surgeon for a consultation two weeks ago, she made a startling discovery: I’m still producing breastmilk. It’s been more than a year-and-a-half since I nursed Mason, so I was shocked by the news. How in the world could that be? Truth is, I have no idea. I had so much on my mind during that doctor’s appointment, including my upcoming lumpectomy for a precancerous breast mass and the BRCA test that I chose to take right then (more to come on that), that I didn’t say more than Wow, you’re kidding, when she mentioned it .
(Update: I emailed my doctor as a follow-up for this post and she says: “The breast milk is not a problem, and it’s not related to the atypia [a clinical term for abnormality in a cell]. I see milk leaking more often when women have had multiple pregnancies, breast fed multiple times, but it can happen in someone who has nursed once .”)
Despite the mystery of it all (to me, at least), my doctor’s finding made me feel nostalgic for my breastfeeding days. Although I found nursing to be extremely stressful, I’ll never forget the moment Mason latched on. It was at least as magical as his birth, and it was at that moment that I felt the overpowering love that you hear new mothers describe. Despite the angst that I felt when I wasn’t able to nurse him, I’m grateful that we had that bonding time–and I have serious hopes of breastfeeding success when (if?) I’m lucky enough to have a second baby. On the way back to myoffice after the appointment, I had the crazy (and very brief) thought of What if I tried to breastfeed him again tonight? Maybe it would work!
I live in New York City, and in the short time that I nursed, I felt very supported by most people around me. Because breastmilk was Mason’s first food, and this blog is all about feeding my kid (and yours), it’s a topic that I cover frequently. I follow breastfeeding news and articles to get the latest scoop, so my interest was piqued when I saw a breastfeeding etiquette Q&A on Parade.com. A first grade teacher in Scottsdale, Arizona, was seeking advice on how to handle protests from other parents about a mom of a child in her classroom who nurses her one-year-old at school events “without covering up sufficiently.”
I rolled my eyes at the question and thought, Tell those parents to get a life. Then I kept reading.
In response, writer Judith Newman offered this advice from Patricia Rossi, author of Everyday Etiquette: “Talk to the school principal about designating a comfortable, quiet place for breast-feeding. You can then offer the mom use of the room as a place away from noise and germs.”
Maybe Rossi’s suggestion would work. If the mom is at a two-hour open-house for her child’s classroom, for example, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to offer her a private place to nurse (she might even appreciate it), as long as she has the right to decline. But if she’s sitting in the audience of her older child’s class play then I don’t think it’s fair to suggest she go elsewhere–she might miss her kid’s part in the production.
Then Newman, who is also an etiquette expert, added her own (absurd, in my opinion) two cents: “Of course she could also consider the feelings of others and try to feed her son before or after a school event.”
Really? She must be joking.
When Mason was hungry I never stopped to consider the feelings of the people around me, I simply fed my child. It wasn’t always predictable when he might eat, and there were even a few times when I didn’t have a cover with me, so I nursed him as discreetly as I could, but perhaps someone near me saw too much and was offended. Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less. My number one priority was to attend to my child’s needs and if someone didn’t like it, they didn’t have to look.
I’m all for knowledgeable, informed, supportive breastfeeding advice–everything else should be left unsaid. Please.
Care to share your thoughts?
Photo: Breastfeeding mom via Natalie Dexbakh/Shutterstock.com