The Case Of The Wandering Hand

Breastfeeding moms, it’s time that this was written down in black and white.  It’s time that attention was directed to a global phenomenon…to a timeless and shared experience that we were never forewarned about:

The case of The Wandering Hand.

Are you nodding right now?  Are you perhaps gently re-positioning a soft baby hand away from your other nipple and towards your neck, arm, face, hand…anywhere but the other nipple?!

You are not alone.

It might be reassuring to know that The Wandering Hand stems from a place of innate human development.   Because our babies are hard-wired to breastfeed…they are born with milk on the mind, so to speak.  And amazingly, research* shows us that the seemingly random movements of tiny hands during nursing is actually an instinctive way for infants to locate and attach to the breast.

Clever babies.

For some babies, locating and attaching is simply not enough…because they know (they just know) that there are two breasts, with two nipples available.  And this other nipple, termed across research papers as the ‘free nipple’, is sometimes far too tempting for little hands to resist.  Because babies just love to rock the boob…

Boob rocking is all well and good, yet for the mom with nursing aversion or painful nipples, The Wandering Hand can sometimes feel totally overwhelming.  But all is not lost!  Because there are, in fact, options out there that are a little less crazy-making.  Like breastfeeding necklaces, for example.  My own ‘free nipple’ has been known to send a silent ode of thanks to KangarooCare on countless occasions.  A sincere and heartfelt ode of thanks for rescuing me from the depths of Twiddle Ville...

Thanks to the oak, which provided the beads,
And thanks to the yarn, so diligently weaved.

Thanks to the mama, who sat and who sewed,
Who had boobs on the mind, from her head to her toes.

Thanks to this mama, who threaded the beads,
on the necklace I wear, as my little girl feeds,

Thank you baby, sat smiling at me,
And thank you Universe, my nipple is FREE!

So there we have it.  The case of The Wandering Hand officially solved; with understanding of instinctive human development and with gratitude to human ingenuity – because we all need saving from Twiddle Ville from time to time…

Thank you to mama Jeanmarie for allowing me to feature her picture in this piece.  For more photos in celebration of breastfeeding and motherhood, join the Mama Bean village on Facebook!

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* Clinical Lactation, “Facilitating Autonomous Infant Hand Use During Breastfeeding”, by Genna, Catherine Watson; Barak, Diklah