Before I started working as a NICU nurse I had no idea how many women were going to want to show me their boobs. This has only got worse since I had my son.
Let me explain…
Something we really try to encourage the Mums of the preemie babies is to express breast milk using an electric pump while their babies are too tiny and sick to breast feed. This is because expressed breast milk (EBM) helps to protect the gut of these tiny, fragile infants in a way that formula can’t. Obviously breast feeding isn’t for everyone and we don’t try and force anyone to express or breast feed if they don’t want to but every day that a baby receives EBM provides more protection for their digestive systems.
However, to best help Mums express and breast feed I spend quite a large percentage of my working life being shown boobs so I can advise about positioning , latching and side effects such as cracked nipples. This is also where the knitted boobs come in.
When I was a keen bean student at nursing student I never imagined that I would find myself sat on the floor in front of a woman trying to breast feed with a pair of multicoloured knitted boobs positioned on my front to help demonstrate the advice I’d given. The knitted boobs are sometimes accompanied by a doll to really help get my point across.
I’ve no idea why the knitted boobs are multi-coloured. I think the lovely women who knit them for us live to make people uncomfortable. They are however, better than the squidgey silicon ones I saw on delivery suite, there’s something vaguely pornographic about those.
We’re also trying to break down the boundaries associated with breast feeding, helping women to feel less self conscious and the general public more accepting. After all, it’s what boobs were designed for.
On the other hand, being surrounded by other women expressing and breast feeding can make some women a little bit too uninhibited. This can be rather unnerving for some of the Dads when they walk into a room and find a Mum wandering round minus top and bra.
To be honest, there has been the odd occasion where I’ve been confronted with rather more than expected.
The most recent of these was a Mum who came to me feeling unwell and with pain in her chest. From the sound of her symptoms I thought it sounded like she had mastitis as I’d had this when trying to breast feed my son. I asked her if she had any heat or tenderness on the affected side and was confronted with a pulled down top and a request for my opinion.
Without batting an eyelid I said that it did indeed look as though she had mastitis and to get an appointment with her GP, advising her in the meantime to draw around the red area with a Biro so she could see if the infection was spreading.
I love my job.