Before I had kids, I heard moms lament about their sad "breasts after baby" and, as a result, their desire for "mommy makeovers." I assumed these body-obsessed women were narcissists who needed to focus more on their kids and less on their looks. Well, now I am that narcissist, because my boobs have me feeling a lot of emotions now that I'm way past the weaning stage. I'm also feeling kind of lonely out here, because there are more than a few things no one is saying about postpartum boobs. Maybe if we talked about this topic more, people like me wouldn't feel so nuts.
The kinds of changes that can occur to the breasts after pregnancy do not only apply to women who breastfed. Changes such as loss or gain of tissue mass, firmness of the breast, nipple shape, and sagging can occur in non-breastfeeding mothers as well, regardless of whether they nursed their babies for any amount of time.
Why is this topic of the breasts not as prevalent in the current conversation about postpartum mothers? From the feminist viewpoint, are we not supposed to care about something so superficial that is normally associated with pleasing the male gaze? Or, from the "mommy wars" vantage, are these battle scars ones to be worn proudly, in the name of "breast is best?" Honestly, I wish I knew the exact reason behind all this post-baby boob silence. I do know that it is healing to be more open about our "body feelings," especially as they relate to our identity and sexuality. The breasts seem like a good place to start.
That They Could Cease To Be An Erogenous Zone
After having children, many women for whom the breasts were an erogenous zone start to wish there was a "Keep Back 100 Feet" sign across their chests. For some it has more to do with their emotional relationship to their breasts after seeing themselves as mothers (the breasts, after all, are the ultimate symbol of maternal nurturing). For some, it can be more about the physical changes that their breasts have undergone and not feeling sexual about that particular area of their bodies, especially now that they look and feel different. But guys. Why are we not talking about this more? Even with my closest friends, I have to work pretty hard to get their feelings about their postpartum boobs in relation to sex (and we are a pretty damn open bunch).
I used to sleep pretty much naked (save for underwear) because that's what made me feel good and sensual. Now I feel much more comfortable in a shirt when I go to bed. I try not to concentrate on looking at my postpartum breasts too much because, honestly, they kind of bum me out.
Anything About Downward Facing Nipples
No but really, WTF is with the nipples that seem to have shifted, like, an inch or so towards the floor? More importantly, why didn't anyone warn me this might happen? Not like it would have changed my decision to have children or to breastfeed, but I don't like the kind of surprises that have to do with my body doing freaky things I wasn't prepared for.
It's like my nipples decided to migrate towards my belly button, but after about two minutes, decided it wasn't worth the effort and now they're all mad about it. They literally look sad.
That It's Not Really About What Other People Think
I don't know if people understand that a postpartum mother's feelings about her breasts aren't necessarily about looking like the hot young things featured the "GQ Castings" Instagram feed to please a partner or "society." It is more about how they feel at the end of the day, especially when they take off their bra and look in the mirror for the first time and during the first real moment they've had to themselves.
That For The First Time In Your Life You Might Start Obsessing Over Their Appearance
I really had no idea that childbirth and breastfeeding could affect a member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee such as myself. Since this is not something people really talk about, I truly thought that sagging and stretched out boobs were something that happened to my luckier, big-bosomed cohorts.
Throughout my life, my small breasts have never really been a thing. I like them. They fit in shirts without my having to worry about wearing a bra. However, now that it is clear (and has been confirmed by my doctors) that this is it in terms of the breast tissue I'll be getting back postpartum, my shrunken little boobs are on my mind a lot. I'm not thrilled about it.
That They May Become Even More Asymmetrical Than They Were Pre-Pregnancy
Sometimes I wish bra cups came separately. Before kids, I had breasts that were slightly asymmetrical in size. After kids and breastfeeding, the discrepancy is even more pronounced. It just ain't fair. Also, I had no idea that a bad situation could get even worse.
That There's Really Nothing You Can Do To Improve Their Appearance Short Of Wearing A Good Pushup Bra Or Hiding Them
Nothing to see here! Just five layers of an uncomfortable pushup bra gifted by my well-meaning mother who doesn't understand how I could leave the house in those "nothing bras" I favor.
Unfortunately, the postpartum boob "damage" isn't something that you can fix by going to a gym or getting a nice haircut. Like a scar from surgery, you either learn to live with the changes your body has endured, figure out ways to make it look better, or make some big decisions about whether you want to (gasp) go under the knife.
That They Could Completely Disappear When Flattened By A Tight Sportsbra
Raise your hand if you've experienced the Mysterious Case Of The Disappearing Boobies? On the rare occasion that I decide to don a sports bra, the tight material will flatten whatever meagre breast tissue I have so my post-baby boobs all but disappear.
That Some Breast Tissue Grows Back After Time, But Not Necessarily All Of It
When I stopped weaning my last baby, and my breasts shrunk down to unrecognizable deflated water balloon shapes, my friends claimed that if I gave it time, the tissue would come back and I would look like my old self again. This may be true for some women, but it was not the case for me. True, I did get some of that tissue back, and my breasts look better than they did immediately after weaning, but I look at some of my friends and their postpartum breasts and see that I've gotten a crappy end of the deal compared to many.
If my breasts had an epitaph, it would read: "Here hang the husks of a formerly decent pair or breasts who served their mistress well. They will be sorely missed."