08 June 2006

Nipple Gymnastics

The following is my second writing sample written for the application for the Club Mom blogging gig. Again, I am sharing these here on my blog because I enjoyed writing them and was pleased with the results. I just wanted to post them rather than round-file them.

Nipple Gymnastics: Adventures In Breastfeeding

Like most expectant mothers today, I began learning about the importance of breastfeeding very early in my pregnancy. I was not the first of my friends to go through pregnancy or breastfeeding. Having watched the nursing in progress, my appreciation for the beauty and wonder of the experience was mingled with a measure of fear. Some of the things that I had seen babies do to nipples during their feedings made my own nipples want to run for cover somewhere in the neighborhood of my spine.

Your lactation consultant may, or may not, tell you how difficult some women find breastfeeding. It is a serious commitment of time and energy. For at least the first few months, there is little else you can do while your baby nurses. A sling can help, especially if you have a support team to get everything set up and in the right place. Eventually you get used to doing with two hands what you'd really like to have at least 5 to manage. You may even be able to manage to multi-task. Checking email or talking on the phone while nursing can actually be very manageable.

The standard nursing positions may seem awkward at first. That is nothing compared to some of the non-standard positions that your baby will discover as she develops a bit more control of her body. We used to call the sidelying position the cuddle or snuggle position because there was nothing like curling up with a sleepy baby, the closeness, and the euphoric sense that everything was right in the world. We now realize that the sidelying position is really an arena for the aspiring nipple gymnast.

The first maneuver in nipple gymnastics is the belly roll. With just a little practice, your nursling will be able to roll from her side to her belly without breaking her latch. The stretching of your nipple that accompanies this feat won't seem as uncomfortable as it might have, since by this time your infant's increasing awareness of the outside world often results in sudden head turning while nursing. Most of your nursling's future gymnastic feats will build upon the simple belly roll. Before you know it, your baby will be competing for the gold.

In the coming weeks or months, I would like to share with you some highlights of the under-publicized sport of nipple gymnastics. If your own nursling has a particularly ambitious or daring gymnastic maneuver, please drop me a line and we can compare notes.

Image note: "Mickaninies Kow-Kow" Inuit Eskimo woman breast-feeding two babies. (c)1904 Copyrighted by Frank H. Nowell.
Source: US Library of Congress Online Print Catalogue

1 comment:

Alexandra said...

Hahahahahaha I know what you mean!!! I have been relatively luck mine manages to unlatch every time he turns his head. But that doesn't stop my 6 month old from "gumming down" (that is what I call it because he doesn't have any teeth yet)