Whenever I hear someone describe breastfeeding as a journey, I tend to roll my eyes. However, in the quiet moments when I’m being honest with myself, “journey” is actually the perfect word to describe the overall experience. From thinking about and preparing for breastfeeding before your baby is even born, to working your way through the sometimes incredibly difficult learning period, to getting it (or not ever really getting it), to adapting to the needs of a growing and developing child, to deciding to stop; breastfeeding is an ordeal. And, in the end, breastfeeding will change how you feel about your boobs, solidifying the undeniable fact that this "journey" has some lasting, life-changing affects.
While there is much discussion and debate as to whether or not breastfeeding does, in fact, changes the size, shape, or appearance of breasts, I think that’s mostly wishful thinking to assume it doesn't. The great majority of breastfeeding women I've talked to (which I recognize is not scientific, but is telling) report that breastfeeding a baby physically altered their breasts; ranging from a little bit to a whole lot. These changes, no matter how big or small, can cause even the most confident of breastfeeding mothers to feel uncomfortable about their postpartum bodies (and breasts, in particular). That being said, I have no authority with which to talk about permanent cosmetic changes, because my breasts have not physically changed in any perceptible way since nursing my two children. Don’t get jealous; it’s because I’ve had the breasts of a 57 year old wet nurse since I was 12. (It’s OK, my boobs and I totally love each other.)
Still, regardless of one’s feelings on the appearance of their breasts once they’ve retired from nursing, there are a whole swathe of emotions involved that, in the end, have very little to do with appearance and a whole lot to do with the "journey" you've been through, together.
You No Longer View Them As Exclusively Erogenous
Don’t get me wrong, they’re still great for all of those sexy fun times. However, after your breasts have proven themselves crucial employees in your food production and distribution company (for however long you nursed), you aren’t just grateful to them for being sexy or sensitive to stimulation. You’re grateful for all their hard work and usefulness.
They Are Definitely Not Merely Ornamental
When we, as women, are constantly being told we're nothing more than our bodies, it can be difficult to remember that our breasts are more than just pretty, they’re two badges of pride you wear on your chest at all times. They, you know, can do stuff. Like, amazing stuff.
You’ve Seen How Your Boobs Look In A Number Of Cup Sizes, Which Gives You Perspective
I’m still currently nursing my youngest. She’s well over a year, but still usually wakes up to nurse at least once during the night. On the rare occasion she actually sleeps until the morning, I become super engorged and wake up to breasts that are, well, huge.
Look, I am not small-chested wisp to begin with, but when I get engorged one of those things can wind up being three times the size of my head. Of course, it’s especially hilarious when my kid finally gets up and eat, because when she finishes on one side the difference between my boobs makes me look like a Picasso. We’re seriously talking an enormous right breast and a left breast that has temporarily shrunk down to a cup size smaller than usual. So, it's safe to say that over the course of breastfeeding two kids over the past four years, I have seen my boobs in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and I must say it makes me appreciate what I’ve got.
In other words, the grass isn't always greener. You may have spent the majority of your life hoping and/or wishing for "bigger breasts," only to realize that, yeah, they're not all they're cracked up to be.
You’ve Probably Hated Them, At Least Once
Whether this happened in the early days when you were still struggling to figure breastfeeding out, or during a particularly emotional pumping session, or that time you had mastitis; I'd venture to guess you've not always felt warmly toward your breasts over the course of this “journey.”
In fact, some of those bumps in the road have inspired deeply felt anger and loathing towards your lady lumps. In the end, of course, you can’t help but learn to live with them, and those hard times can, in the end, leave you feeling more connected to your body.
You Have A Renewed Sense Of Humor About Them
I once squirted milk in my baby’s eye by accident. I cannot count the number of times I’ve leaked through a shirt at an inopportune moment. In fact, one time I was like a sprinkler and the leaking didn’t stop for, like, a minute. None of the aforementioned had ever happened to me before, and I usually just sort of looked down in horror screaming very quietly.
Breastfeeding can provide you with some pretty hilarious, albeit also kind of gross and even a little embarrassing, moments, that you just can't help but laugh at. The human body is something else, my friends.
You Deeply Appreciate All They Did For Your Baby
Your kid loved your boobs, and that kind of makes you love them, too. It wasn’t just about food. Your breasts provided comfort, sleep, and important bonding time between you and your baby. It’s actually an astounding amount of work, if you think about it. Well done, boobs! Well done!