As many women do, I also intended to breastfeed my baby. I mean, why would I not? The benefits of breastfeeding a child are very well documented, but the benefits that it offers to mothers are also pretty not terrible: the unreal caloric burning that means you literally need to eat all the delicious food you can handle, the endless benefits for your baby, the super-awesome bonding... I was sold from the first brochure. But as it turns out, breastfeeding isn't always a piece that fits everyone's puzzle.
I proudly proclaimed my boobs as my son's territory well before he was born. During a false alarm visit to the labor and delivery ward I was required to fill out my paperwork ahead of the actual delivery of my son, where the nurse asked, "Do you intend to breastfeed?" Um, duh, "Of course." I said confidently, though I really had no idea what the future nutrition of my child entailed.
When my son was born I did my best to bond with him. I immediately placed him awkwardly on my chest before our formal introduction, and minutes after his birth, I attempted to feed him. However, he wanted no part of it. The lactation consultant visited my room in a rescuing effort to train me on the proper positions and times to feed my baby, but my son had little to no interest in my schedule nor my positioning. We battled each other for six weeks while he stubbornly fed, and I all but begged for answers from the lactation nurses.
"Your boobs are too big," they said as I desperately sought answers as to why my breastfeeding journey was so difficult, "Yeah, that makes breastfeeding a lot more challenging."
"Oh, you don't say?" I sarcastically questioned. My big boobs were not necessarily a pregnancy-related issue. I've had a burgeoning rack since I was about 10 years old. I assumed that, by the time I hit adulthood, my upper half would have slowed its development, but I was wrong. So, so wrong.
My cup size kept increasing as I got older, especially while I was pregnant with my first son. I'll never forget my cousin taking me to a maternity store to get fitted for a bra: The attendant confidently told me that I was obviously a D cup, though the bras begged to differ. Eventually, after three or four bra sizes bigger than the original D prediction, I was told I would need an F cup. "Oh, I'm sorry. You're going to have to go to a special store for that." the clerk said. And so began my long-standing war with my upper half.
Despite the apparent mountains on my chest, I was determined to breastfeed. However, I was completely unaware that my cup size presented a special set of challenges when it came to doing that particular deed. As I obviously shouldn't have, I expected this whole feeding routine to come naturally, and comfortably. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it didn't, and it rarely does. For most women, breastfeeding is a whole new skill that both you and your baby have to learn; it's not automatic, and it's not without its challenges. For me, I had one very big challenge. Well, two actually.
Breastfeeding with big boobs was not easy. It can be done, but it does come with its struggles. Here's how:
None Of Your Bras Fit
I was unaware that shopping for an F cup would require me going to a certain store that specialized in the fitting of big brassieres. I found out the hard and embarrassing way that my favorite department store only keeps up to a size E in stock due to the very minimal need of anything above that size.
It was super not-so-fun and somewhat humiliating, and honestly, I'm still not sure if my size-F bras fit me properly after breastfeeding.
Your Nipples, Well, They Get Bigger
I understand that, for the most part, the bigger the boobs, the bigger the nipples. That's just proportional science. However, something a bit unexpected happened while I breastfed my first son: my nipples got bigger. Like, not outrageously, or horrifically bigger, but bigger nonetheless. Apparently, this happens to anyone who breastfeeds no matter their cup size.
Certain Breastfeeding Positions Are More Difficult
Let's just say that you have less open real estate to work with.
You Have To Be Careful Not To Smother Your Baby. No, Seriously.
Not too long after my son was born, the nurse tried to show me how to breastfeed properly. My first attempt didn't go so well. I placed him against my chest, thinking that he was eating, but was quickly and urgently warned that he was indeed struggling to not only find his way, but catch his breath amid my overwhelming bosom. That's the problem with big boobs and breastfeeding: You've got to pay very close attention, and there is definitely some searching involved.
Your Neck And Back Will Sometimes Hurt
I mean, this is a problem that women with big boobs already know painfully well, but once you fill those things with milk? Yeah. Holding up the weight of your burgeoning breasts, coupled with holding a child who is attempting to seek nutrition through them, is like playing a game of Twister while covered in olive oil. And of course, by that I mean that it isn't graceful, and is actually sort of (OK, really) uncomfortable at times.
You Look Like You Are Literally Carrying Melons In Your Bra
Once your body realizes that it needs to supply milk for a newborn it really goes to work. I mean, it really goes to work. Remember that time when you barely had enough milk to feed your tiny, little baby? Ha, that was the past. For most women, once your body and baby start working as a team to let each other know what the other needs, your present becomes filled with fully engorged breasts that require the constant attention of a pump or a baby in order to keep the juices flowing (and from overflowing).
And if they don't keep flowing, there is this awful thing called engorgement that happens that gives your upper half the appearance of having actual cantaloupes hidden inside of your bra, and feels about as pleasant.
None Of Your Old Shirts Fit
Button-up shirts are the spawn of Satan when you have large, milk-filled breasts, no matter what anyone tries to tell you.
There Is No Such Thing As Laying On Your Stomach
So, the entire time I was pregnant, I wasn't allowed to lie on my stomach because it could have possibly harmed my baby. OK, that makes sense. We all had to deal with that. It's fine. So, one of the best feelings ever was being able to lie down on my stretched-out belly for the first time after delivering my kid. Seriously, you guys, it was the best feeling ever...for, like, five seconds. And then my ginormous rack began to throb from the pain of engorgement. Ugh.
You Literally Have To Hold Your Boob AND Your Baby
What's it like to be able to simply press your baby against your chest in order for them to breastfeed? No, seriously, that's a real question. Most women with large breasts will admit that their efforts to feed their children are often much more difficult than expected. Holding a baby while holding a boob, while also holding oneself up from exhaustion is all far more challenging than you can ever imagine unless you've done it.
You Have To Order Special Bras
Um, when did bras get so expensive? Does their price increase with their cup size? Answer: Yes. But they are worth every single precious penny spent for the comfort that they offer, but still, it's really not fair.
Even Those Special Bras You Order Aren't Supportive Enough To Contain You
Finding the right bra is just a pain in the ass (or the boobs, I suppose). Seriously, finding a bra that both fits comfortably, adjusts accordingly, and doesn't require you drain your savings account to afford is a little more than just difficult. The rib size never matches up with the cup sizes, and the cup sizes are never the same between stores. Seriously, it's such a pain. It isn't convenient whatsoever, and it's a little (OK, a lot) painful to participate in the entire process. I love my breasts, and I love my baby, but that's pretty much where to love ends when it comes to breastfeeding with big boobs.