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A Boob and a Drawer

Categories: babies, breastfeeding & lactation, feeding babies & kids, parenting, postpartum, pumping, toddlers & older kids

October 24, 2013

author: Jeanette Mesite Frem

Have you ever heard of the expression, “all a baby needs is a boob and a drawer”? It’s so true, in so many ways. We spend so much time and energy trying to figure out what we need before baby comes (and after baby comes, what ELSE we need) but they really don’t require much. A boob, a drawer and I’ll add a village, too.

Yes, one. The saying states “a boob”, not TWO. It’s nice to have two but really a baby only needs one. I know women who nurse just on one side, usually because they decided the other one isn’t working well enough to warrant bothering. Think about it…if you had twins you wouldn’t lament not having FOUR boobs, would you? One is enough to grow an entire baby. I hear women considering giving up breastfeeding entirely because one side isn’t doing well…either very flat nipple or baby doesn’t like that side or repeat plugged ducts or mastitis on that side. Then again, sometimes there are things that can help flat nipples, baby refusing one side or preventing plugged ducts and mastitis. Sometimes we try everything and it just makes the most sense to leave that side alone and go with the so-called “good boob”. Sure, two would be great, but you just need one.

If you go through the suggested items that a baby needs in their layette, it can be overwhelming. Does your baby really need all that equipment? All those different outfits? No. Are they cute? Yes. Does it help to have extra clothes so you can delay doing laundry more often? Yes. But does it have to be overwhelming and expensive? No. Used baby clothes and consignment stores are wonderful things. And hey, maybe your baby doesn’t need a drawer but just a little pile on a counter/dresser somewhere. Babies don’t need much. Food and love and shelter from bad weather. Then again, if you take out all the clothes, a drawer could be a good place for a baby to sleep (not if it’s still inside the dresser, of course!).

I remember when I lived in my village in West Africa. Mamas-to-be waiting until they were ready to push before heading to the maternity center on the edge of the village where a nurse-midwife would catch their baby (I was fortunate to see several births while I was there which truly inspired me to do what I do!). Babies enjoyed being with their moms and the moms were pampered by the other women in their family and other women in the village. Everyone cooked for the new moms, took care of their other children and made sure nursing was going well. Babies there don’t need many clothes, though, since it’s so very hot they are pretty much naked most of the time–there weren’t even diapers there, actually (ask me separately if you want a description of how they managed that!). Babies were worn on their mama’s back all day (or their preschool-age sister’s back) while mama worked in the fields, at the market or preparing food or doing dishes. They were nursed on demand (and yes, sometimes mamas would sling their long boob around their ribs to their toddler on their back for a quick snack!). Everyone in the family slept on the ground inside their mud homes. A very simple life. It was awesome in so many ways. Babies rarely cried (and never if they were on their mama’s back or nursing). All the other older mamas helped out the mamas with babies. And the elementary-age kids help everyone. Living for two years in this sweet village really showed me that babywearing and nursing were wonderful ways to enjoy parenting. We don’t see that much parenting of babies in this country, so finding models is difficult.

It’s so important to temper your wishes for everything those big stores say you need. It’s important if breastfeeding or giving breastmilk to your baby is a priority, to find out where you can get the support to make that happen. Sometimes there’s a fee for that help that isn’t covered by your insurance, even though the Affordable Care Act says it’s supposed to be. Hey, your insurance didn’t pay for your new TV or your ipod or your baby’s car seat or your baby’s crib but you still got that, right?). To get the support you need and crave, find your own village. Find a moms group, a lactation support group, playgroup, busy playground…of course, Babies in Common has some classes and groups that might be perfect for you.

Ultimately, moms are everywhere. It can be like dating again, but you just have to come up with a good pick-up line…maybe ask them about their boob or their drawer? :)

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