In this season of holiday parties and Christmas shopping, many mommies find themselves out and about without the kids more than usual. Some mommies revel in the time away or time alone but there is for some mommies, being away is not so simple!
My youngest little baby just turned three months and I've only been away from him once. I'm definitely not one of "those" mommies who freaks out at the thought of leaving baby for a even a few minutes. I left my first to do a quick Babies'R'Us run when she was only a few days old (we won't talk about how I cried nearly the entire time). And while I don't distinctly remember leaving my second two for the first time (though I do distinctly remember the first long time I was away from my son when I went for a job interview), I know they weren't too big when I left them for a short time.
The reason I haven't left baby yet is simple: he's too easy to bring along! When given the opportunity to leave a child or two behind, I'm definitely not going to pick the sweet little compact one who does whatever I say and rides along happily, nestled in my sling. No, I'm going to leave a few of the other three that like to run around like maniacs and only follow directions about 47% of the time.
Plus, I exclusively breastfeed and leaving baby always runs the risk of him wanting to eat while I'm gone and that's a whole other issue! Why would I go through the trouble of having everything ready for him to have a bottle just in case when I'm only going to be down the street for an hour? It's easier just to take him with me and if he's hungry, I'm ready!
I definitely think leaving baby is a lot harder on breastfeeding mommies because there is a lot more preparation that goes in to it. Nursing mommies aren't used to having bottles ready at any moment. Milk usually has to be collected or at least thawed in order for baby to have a bottle. Plus some babies (like my middle two) aren't too keen on bottles so it can become very stressful for baby and whoever is watching him/her.
And because it's more complicated for nursing mommies to get away, I think we get a lot more negative feedback about it. We often hear things like "it doesn't matter, just give the baby a bottle" or "one bottle won't hurt him/her." And while it's true a bottle or two won't harm the baby, people in these situations often forget one very important fact: breastfeeding is a partnership.
Breastfeeding is not just about the baby. In fact, giving the bottle is the easy part of leaving baby. But what goes in that bottle? Most breastfeeding mommies want their babies to have breastmilk in their bottles whenever possible and you can't get that at Target! So nursing mommies have to pump or express milk for the baby to have before she leaves, somewhere between all the regular feeds the baby is having. For some of us with an oversupply of milk, it's not a problem but for mommies who don't have excess milk, expressing to feed a bottle while away can be extremely stressful.
Then there's the time when mommy is actually away from baby. Guess what...my body doesn't know when I'm not with my baby so still makes milk! This can result in full, engorged, leaky breasts or the need to pump, neither of which is that fun or exciting. (I remember the first night we went out without my son, I fed him and put on a strapless dress which required a strapless bra to fill out the dress enough to keep it on but by the end of the night, I had to take the bra off because I was about to bust out the dress!)
Babies are extremely resilient, most will easily take a bottle and be fine away from mommy for a few hours but it's not always so easy for a breastfeeding mommy to be away from her baby.
But there are things mommies can do to make being away easier: