“Oh my gosh, it’s bigger than his head!”
I had hoped that with the birth of my second son, and a lack of issues breastfeeding the second time around, that my life-long love/hate relationship with my breasts would shift definitively closer to “love”. Ever since puberty, which started earlier for me than most of my classmates, I have been uncomfortable with the size of my breasts. It’s always been hard to reconcile, after all, society celebrates large breasts.
Living with them though is a whole other story.
During my first pregnancy, I didn’t actually mind the changes to my breasts. The growth and changes to shape and colour were part of all the changes my body was undergoing. And since I felt fuller, ripe, sexy in a way I had never felt before with my belly and new curves, I could almost enjoy my breasts. But as soon as my son was born, my insecurities around my breasts came flooding back. The areola were darker, and very large. They weren’t perky anymore, unless I was engorged. And when my son and I struggled with breastfeeding, I couldn’t even love them as a source of nutrition for my child.
I still hated my breasts.
During my second pregnancy I dreaded more changes. I was terrified of how much larger my breasts would get. They didn’t grow that much during that pregnancy, but I was still horrified as I nursed my son after he was born. I would look down and instead of gazing lovingly into his eyes, all I could think was that my breast was so large, it was going to smother my child.
I tried different positions both times, cradle and football hold, side-lying nursing, but nothing I did changed my perspective. Worse was when I wasn’t nursing. None of my clothes fit right. Nursing shirts were a joke. Even high necklines felt like an advertisement for deep cleavage and my regular v-neck shirts felt like plunging necklines. I felt like, no matter what I wore, I was all breast, all the time. It’s all I see when I look in a mirror and I’m terrified it’s all anyone else sees.
It makes me uncomfortable to nurse in public, because it’s hard to be discrete when your boob is bigger than your baby’s head.
But I do it anyways, because I believe in normalized breastfeeding.
I push myself a little outside my comfort zone, to help others, but mostly because I love the joy of breastfeeding my child. As much as I hate my breasts, I have always loved to breastfeed. The comfort and closeness I have when I nurse my children is wonderful to me. I love the feel of a soft cheek against my skin. I love when a tiny hand reaches up to grasp mine. I loved nursing my first, even when we struggled, and I love nursing this baby too.
The dichotomy of loving breastfeeding but hating the part of me that allows for the action is a never ending tug-of-war inside my head. Most days, my love for the act outweighs the negative emotions about my body. Most days, I can remember the words I tell my clients: that the postpartum body is beautiful.
That our bodies are amazing.
They fact that they grew life, they brought a child into the world, and they make even just a small part of the nutrition needed to help that small life grow and thrive, is incredible. Most days I can remember. And on the days I can’t, I try to focus on that little hand in mine, on those beautiful eyes staring up at me, at the soft cheek rubbing against my skin. On the days I can’t remember the words, I try to see past the body and focus on the act.