Since becoming a mom — and thus, a breastfeeding mom — nearly two years ago, my life has definitely changed. I plan my outfits based on how accessible my breasts are (which I never thought about before) and I'm always aware of the least noisy, most comfortable place to sit in any room I'm in. I'm really proud and happy that we’ve been able to nurse for as long as we have, but while I thought breastfeeding would be a much bigger lifestyle change, it turns out that there are actually more things breastfeeding didn’t change about me, than things that it has.
For better, and often for worse, many people assume that deciding to breastfeed means moms have to change themselves or their lifestyle way more than they really do, or feel that breastfeeding means something about them as mothers, or as people, that it really doesn’t. While breastfeeding (and pregnancy and birth) have deepened my sense of appreciation for my body, it hasn't fundamentally changed me as a person. I don't feel that I'm more of a mother, or more of a woman, than someone who doesn't nurse her child.
As far as lifestyle goes, I haven't sworn off wine or beer at dinner, or ditched spicy foods, or avoided ibuprofen if I have a headache (which, thankfully, isn't often). I haven't thrown out my whole wardrobe in favor of expensive, specially-designed nursing tops and dresses, and I don't hide in my house or my car when my son needs to nurse. Breastfeeding hasn't and won't change the following things about me (among others), because it's a just a normal part of my life now.
My Physical Relationship With My Partner
Sometimes it feels good to be touched in certain places, and sometimes it doesn't. So, as always, I communicate my preferences when I'm getting intimate with my partner, but breastfeeding itself hasn't really changed my sex life at all. (Parenthood, more generally, on the other hand...)
I didn’t stop kissing my partner once I started kissing a baby, because I only get one mouth to use for a variety of things. Same goes for the rest of my body. I’m still the only one who gets to decide when I use which parts of it for what and when, but I can mentally, emotionally, and physically "switch gears" with my breasts the same way I do with any other part of my body. They're not automatically out of bounds for other stuff just because I'm nursing.
My Views On Bodily Autonomy
I believe all people — a group which very much includes moms — have the right to decide what happens to our own bodies, and that hasn't changed since becoming a nursing mom. In particular, I believe moms shouldn't feel pressured to breastfeed if that's not something they want to do, because moms are still people who get to decide for ourselves how we will (and won't) use any part of our bodies.
My Love Of Wine And Beer
I'm a huge fan of food, wine, and beer, and I still am. I watch the timing of when I have a glass or two, so that I give my body enough time to metabolize the alcohol before the next time my son will need to nurse. But I don't swear off adult beverages entirely, because there's no scientifically valid reason to do that.
My Overall Diet
As a nursing mom, I do eat a bit more than I used to — though I kind of always eat a lot, so maybe not — but I eat more or less the same things I used to. I normally eat a balanced diet of whole foods, with some treats here and there, and I still do that. I don't try to pack my diet full of alleged "breastfeeding superfoods," because I just don't buy that there are some foods that make moms produce more milk than they would by just eating enough, drinking enough water, and nursing often enough. I don't specifically avoid any foods either, a decision our pediatrician encouraged because there's no need for a nursing mom to restrict foods from her diet unless her baby has a documented reaction or allergy to those specific foods.
My Willingness To Take Medication When I Need It
I'm fortunate enough to be a pretty healthy, able-bodied person, who doesn't rely on medication every day. But when I am hurt or sick, I don't suffer out of fear that I might mess up my milk somehow. I take whatever medicines my doctors have said are OK to take while breastfeeding — a list that includes things I already had in my medicine cabinet — and I go about my business, without worrying that I'm doing something wrong.
My Willingness To Go Out In Public
I've always been an outgoing person who enjoys going out and seeing people, as well as a normal person who has to, you know, run errands and stuff. Breastfeeding hasn't changed that; I'm still willing to go out wherever I want or need to, including when that means I'll need to stop (or not stop, if I'm wearing him) and nurse my son.
My Commitment To Body Positivity
As a nursing mom who supports other nursing moms in various on- and offline breastfeeding groups, I've seen and heard a lot of discussions about how to handle conversations with people who assume that certain moms can't breastfeed well because their breasts are small (totally false!), or who believe larger-breasted moms shouldn't nurse in public (NIP) because it's less "decent" than when moms with smaller breasts NIP (also totally false).
People's bodies are their bodies, and they shouldn't be subject to different assumptions about their capability or different levels of acceptance just because of their size. I believed that before having and nursing my son, and I stick by it.
My Sense Of Modesty (Or Lack Thereof)
I was perfectly comfortable wearing slightly low-cut tops and dresses before having a baby, and nobody said a word to me about it (well, aside from the occasional catcaller, though they find something to say even when I'm buttoned up to the chin in sub-freezing temperatures, so whatever). And I'm still comfortable wearing outfits that don't attempt to hide my breasts, and I don't make any special effort to hide myself while nursing, either. Boobs are just a fact of life.
My Sense Of Pride Or Shame
My Support For Moms Who Can’t Or Don’t Breastfeed
Overall, breastfeeding has been an amazing experience for me and my son, and I am so glad I made the decision to do it, and to stick with it in the earliest days when it was really hard. In many ways, it has made my life as a mom a lot easier than it would have been (especially during night feedings), and I treasure the little moments of fun and bonding it has afforded me and my son.
But I know that it's not like that for every mom; I know there are plenty of moms who struggle with it, or who have no interest in it, for a variety of valid reasons. I still think they have every right to choose differently from me, and I don't think any less of them for doing so. After all, I always minded my own tits before I used them to feed a baby, and I see no reason to stop now.