Breastfeeding, vaccinations and homeschooling. I believe these are the three topics that ignite a fire in the heart of most moms, these days at least, but arguably since always. And trust me, I am not here to tell everyone reading that "breast is best" or that the world would be a better place if everyone would just breastfeed their babies. You do you, ladies. I don't judge. There are ways that breastfeeding changes you, though, and that's what I'm here to talk about.
For me, breastfeeding went from something I was pretty ambivalent about (before being a mom myself) to something I felt very strongly about almost immediately after giving birth. And, trust me, that’s not because it came easily to me. Quite the opposite, in fact; I struggled to get my daughter to latch for the first four weeks of her life. I relied solely on finger feeding, a few bottles and a nipple shield before finally getting her to transition to just the breast. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard at something in my life.
Both my children were challenging to breastfeed, although those challenges presented themselves in different ways. For reasons I have yet to fully understand, however, I persevered. Don’t get me wrong; I don't consider myself some sort of hero or saint for persisting, but I learned a lot about myself in the process.
For me, breastfeeding changed my view of my breasts. As a teenager who pretty much developed from an A-cup to a C-cup overnight, I was used to a significant amount of attention (mostly sexual) directed toward my chest. The popular boys in school actually nicknamed me "Hooters" (how original, guys) and used to shout "nice cans!" to me in the hallways. It left me with a rather skewed perception of my worth, which (unfortunately) stuck with me well into adulthood.
All of that changed, however, when I began breastfeeding. Finally, my breasts went back to being just another part of my body and not a source of sexual pleasure for others. They became just another body part with a function (feeding my children) and I didn't lean on any other reason why they may get attention as an additional source of my self-worth. I can't tell you how liberating that's been.
Thankfully, I'm not the only one that has been changed by the act of breastfeeding. Here are 10 other women who share how breastfeeding changed them:
How We View Our Bodies
"It changed the way I saw my body, as this incredible source of nutrition and goodnes and love. It made me grateful and not only because I lost my baby weight [so quickly]." – Dana
Being able to breastfeed my girls changed how I felt about my body. Not necessarily in how I saw my appearance but how I felt about it's abilities. I have lost 4 babies and struggled to conceive all 6 pregnancies. My pregnancies with my two girls were riddled with scares and issues. But once they were born, I could feed them! My body stop failing me and redeemed itself. I was able to produce enough to feed them even through early term births and lip/tongue ties. It wasn't easy in the beginning but I was able to nurse my first for 3 years and my second for 15 months and going strong. Breastfeeding made me finally appreciate my body and focus less on it's failures. – Michelle
"It resolved some of my body issues. I used to hate my small breasts but, now that they have served such a crucial function, I have an appreciation for them. I was worried that they wouldn't produce enough breast milk but my breasts were actually normal in that way and therefore made me feel normal, like size doesn't matter!” – Jeannette
"Pregnancy and breastfeeding (even with the challenges) made me more more confident with my body. Though I don't have the "text book" figure and never have, my body did what it was supposed to, it made healthy babies and produced milk filled with all the good stuff they needed." – Carolyn
The Power Of The Body
"It was empowering to be able to make food for my babies with my body, and to be able to console a colicky baby by breastfeeding. It made me really appreciate how truly amazing the human body is. But after 6 years of breastfeeding, I was so glad to have my body just belong to me again!" – Sarah
"It was the one thing I could do. I failed at consoling my colicky baby, I failed at bonding at the moment of birth, I failed at being joyful and able to handle the sleepless nights. My house was a wreck, any meals were non existent, and I looked like I had slept in a cave for 10 years BUT I could nurse my baby. That one thing made me feel like there was hope." – Alexandra
For me personally, it has also allowed me to become more strong willed and confident...Breastfeeding is beautiful, natural and necessary. Through breastfeeding my now two babies I have become more confident as a woman, a mom, a wife. Moreover, I am proud of myself and thankful for my breastfeeding experiences the good and the bad. If I could communicate just one note to moms, moms to be, their families, friends and even just passersby is that there is more to breastfeeding than meets the eye. –Ashley
How To Bond
"I miss it! I have nursing envy every time I see another mom nursing. Even if it was not always easy in so many ways." – Catherine
"It was a battle from day 1 to day 730(ish). As awful as it sounds, I never enjoyed it, aside from how convenient it was. My daughter and I are still wonderfully bonded, and we found other ways to connect." –Emily
"Not sure who called breastfeeding natural. Every mom I talk to talks about how hard it is, shares their troubles, many also had mastitis or other issues and admits how hard it is and that its part of the mom guilt. Anyways, perhaps admitting to this reality about how hard it is and how it's a hidden guilt and shame that we hide. I now see why just getting a shower in is success. The moment you finish feeding your child it's time to start again!" –Danielle