Things you find probably yourself doing while breastfeeding:
- Prising open his little clenched fists to wrestle bits of fluff from between his fingers. There will be copious amounts of fluff. And you will have no idea how it got there or where it came from. He is a mini fluff-producing machine.
- Eating a whole rich tea biscuit without using any hands, safe in the knowledge that your child will grow up believing it’s normal to be covered in crumbs.
- Perfecting the art of balancing a cup of tea on extremely narrow ledges, sofas, seemingly impossible surfaces (far away from the wee man’s face/body obviously!).
- Mastering the ability to down a hot cup of tea in one, during that one moment your hand is free. Alternatively, discovering a new-found love for cold tea. To be clear, that is tea left to go cold accidentally, not intentionally prepared iced tea. That is just wrong.
- Biting his nails. A little weird but infinitely preferable to the trauma of wielding potentially blood-inducing clippers or scissors anywhere near the little chap’s didgets. It can be surprisingly satisfying and also reduces the need for scratch mitts. And, let’s face it, there’s not a lot else to do when he’s pretty much permanently attached.
- Picking at stray bits of sticking up skin/scabs/cradle cap.
- Picking his nose (sounds a lot worse than it is).
- Picking off random food crumbs you’re only just now noticing, even though it’s been hours since you hastily shovelled down lunch/dinner. He won’t mind the odd splodge of hair jam, but an ear full of trifle might not go unnoticed by other passing grown-ups.
In fact, picking seems to cover many activities, and is also a good catch-all term for how many of your other, previously luxuriated in, activities end up.
You will pick one-handed at a plate of food. You will pick through a magazine or book, forgetting where you left off last. But this is all ok, as the primary function of your brain/body is now devoted to breastfeeding.
That brings us to the concept of baby brain. As applied to you, rather than the size of your little one’s head. All that hormonal activity coursing through your body during pregnancy could certainly explain the odd funny little mistake, like forgetting where you parked the car or having the odd mix-up over meeting times in work. All very jolly, ha ha, silly me.
This is totally different to the mind-altering, numbing effects of almost zero sleep, coupled with the natural anxiety of the first stages of parenthood. Studies have demonstrated that the lack of sleep during these first few weeks can actually leave us in such a state that we really should not be operating heavy machinery. Luckily, manoeuvring a buggy upstairs is probably the most technical things are going to get for most of us.
And the zombie-like condition we often find ourselves in during the act of breast feeding is ok too. All of our body’s focus is on getting those nutrients out. So if you find yourself gaping, open-mouthed at the telly of a morning, don’t worry. It’s not just the people on Jeremy Kyle that are mesmerising your eyeballs.
A note on TV in the early days. There are many schools of thought that countenance no TV exposure at all. But at this stage I did whatever got me through, whether it was reruns of Ugly Betty at 6am, cheesy 80’s films, or the soaps permanently on catch-up.
Do whatever you need to safely stay awake and sane. And you’re the only one who knows what works so trust yourself – and ask for help if you need it!