What is an exclusively nursing mom? Odds are you haven’t heard this term before. What about a non-pumping mama? That one gives more of an explanation but you likely aren’t familiar with that term either. I searched for both these terms and I didn’t really find anything. This should not be the case. There should be more info on exclusively nursing moms and thus I am writing a post about it.
Now before I really get going, I want to clarify something. An exclusively nursing mom is not some elite title. It’s not a group of mamas who think they are so much better than other mamas. It’s a variation and more often than not, it’s not a choice but a method that simply has to be. So no judging is going on here.
There are Many Ways to Feed a Baby
As we all know, there are many ways to feed your baby. All these methods have their own little descriptive titles (especially here in the internet world). You have the big two groups: formula feeding moms and breastfeeding moms. Formula feeding is generally pretty cut and dry so as far as I know there aren’t sub-groups. There are sub-groups for breastfeeding moms. There are the exclusively pumping moms, the moms who breastfeed and pump, and then there is the exclusively nursing moms.
What is an Exclusively Nursing Mom
An exclusively nursing mom is a mother who for whatever reason can only feed her baby breastmilk straight from her breasts. This means she never pumps and baby never gets a bottle.
Why be an Exclusively Nursing Mom
As I said, there are many reasons this might be the case and more often than not, it’s not the mom’s first choice or ideal choice. Here are some of the many reasons that I’ve heard for an exclusively nursing mom:
- Mom doesn’t produce enough milk to make pumping worth it
- Mom doesn’t respond well to a breast pump and thus doesn’t pump enough milk
- Mom doesn’t want to spend extra time pumping when she is already breastfeeding.
- Baby hates bottles, all bottles.
As you can see, most of those reasons, are reasons that the mother did not choose. Which is why I once again want to convey that an exclusively nursing mom is not some elitist. Honestly, as an exclusively nursing mom, I have often felt like a lower level breastfeeder because my body just doesn’t make enough milk to make pumping worth it. It can be hard, really hard to be an exclusive nursing mom. Which is why I wanted to talk about how to survive being an exclusively nursing mom!
One year ago, I posted a picture on Instagram that showed me baby wearing my daughter while I was on a date celebrating my 10 year anniversary. I shared that I was a non-pumping mama so that meant that baby went everywhere that I went because she needed to eat every 2 hours. I received so many comments from moms saying they were so grateful that I mentioned that I was an exclusive nurser. Many of these moms, didn’t even know that exclusively nursing moms existed; they felt all alone in this breastfeeding method. My heart broke for them. I have struggled to be an exclusively nursing mom with three of my children now and despite being a “pro” there are often difficult days for me. It helps to know that you are not the only one out there who is going through the same thing.
How to Survive Being an Exclusively Nursing Mom
Choose to Accept This Method
I’ve discovered that when I accept that my babies will need to nurse often or will always need me to feed them, it goes better. It’s much easier to say “this is just how my baby is” instead of always comparing your baby to so and so’s baby who takes a bottle, goes 4 hours between feedings, etc. If you accept it as your normal then it’s easier to not get frustrated by your situation.
Get Your Support System Onboard
Even if your support system is limited to just one or two people, having someone to support you in this time of your life will go a long way. Someone to have your corner when others try to put you down, someone to encourage you when you feel like throwing in the towel. Just like childbirth, breastfeeding (and in this case exclusively nursing) is tough and a support system is a must!
Adjust What Your Normal Life Expectations Are
Some women might be able to continue with their previous level of housework, cooking, activities, life in general…However most women will find that exclusively nursing might take many of your waking hours away from those previous chores and activities. When I had my first baby, someone told me to just not worry about a messy house and I rolled my eyes at them. I would still keep my house clean, thank you very much. And truth be told, I did… for awhile but life happens. As I added more kids to my family, as I had babies who had higher demands, my home’s cleanliness started slipping. I’m ok with this. There will always be dishes and laundry but I only have a short time nursing my baby.
Plan Activities for While You Nurse
Nursing your baby takes a whole lot of time. Unless you enjoy just sitting and doing nothing for 30 or so minutes every couple of hours, I recommend finding something you can do while nursing. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes resting and doing nothing is just what you need but other times you will drive yourself crazy because you feel so unproductive (NOT that you are unproductive because breastfeeding is quite the productive feat!). Activities can be anything from going through your favorite tv series, reading books, or using the computer (if you ever want to know how I do most of my blog work with a baby… I do it while nursing!)
Learn to Nurse While Babywearing
I’ll admit this is one thing I have never been able to figure out. If you can master breastfeeding while babywearing, you will be able to do so much more all while feeding your little one! You can get out of the house and take a walk even. Freedom all while being attached to your baby!
Cosleeping with your baby is not for everyone and should only be done if everyone is on board and it can be done safely. That said, if cosleeping is a good fit for your family then do it! If you are exclusively nursing, this means you will be the only means to feed your baby multiple times during the night. You will be tired and cosleeping (and specifically side nursing) allows you to nurse while sleeping!
Hand Over Other Baby Tasks
You might be the only one who can feed your baby but baths, naps, playtime can all be handed over to others. Feel free to continue doing whatever tasks you want to but realize that having daddy do bath time is a small but great way to get a baby free break!
Get Some “Me Time”
Even if it’s just a 30 minutes, that itty bitty break can be your saving grace. When I’m exclusively nursing, I get “touched out” pretty easily what with nursing all the time and even when not nursing, I’m usually babywearing so I can get things done or I’ve got the baby coming by every few minutes to make sure mama is still at her beck and call. “Me Time” doesn’t have to be hours out of the house. It can be just a walk around the block, a quick trip to get a cup of coffee, or a soak in the tub. Those few minutes will recharge your drained mama batteries.
Get Comfortable Nursing in Public
No I’m not saying you have to get comfortable with nursing with no cover. If you can do that then props to you! I personally am a bit too self-conscious for nursing without a cover so I choose to cover up. Even with a cover, nursing in public can be intimidating. If you aren’t used to it, start practicing. You can practice at home, in the backyard, or just bite the bullet and go for it in public. Nursing in public means you will be allowed to leave the house for longer than a couple hours at a time.
Know You Are Not Alone
It’s rare to find an exclusive nurser these days. With many moms working or breast pumps being more affordable and effective, moms take advantage of being able to give baby a bottle. However, that doesn’t mean that other exclusively nursing moms do not exist. We are around! You are not alone!