How breastfeeding changes the way you see your boobs
“Mummy has boobs on,” my two-year-old daughter said. She had been pointing out different body parts – knees, ears, elbows – and I probably should have guessed that she was going to get around to boobs eventually.
“Err…yes. I do,” I said.
She looked at my husband.
“Daddy no have boobs on.”
She looked down.
“I no have boobs on.”
I love that she thinks boobs are an accessory that one puts on by choice, like a pair of earrings or something. There are times, particularly when I was breastfeeding, when I desperately wished I had a choice about wearing them. If I could have, I would have taken them off, chucked them in the bin and breathed a sigh of relief, no longer weighed down by the two sore, heavy bags dangling off my chest.
See, prior to becoming a breastfeeder, I had been one of the lucky ones. My boobs are on the smallish side and, for the most part, they didn’t really get in the way of things. I could exercise without a sports bra. Wear low-cut tops without spillage. Jump around without jiggling. In truth, I could kind of forget that they were there.
And then I had a baby.
Suddenly, my so-small-you-could-miss-them boobs were very big, very painful and VERY busy. This was their time to shine, and they weren’t going to let me forget it.
“We’re here!” they shouted, as they leaked milk all over my bed.
“Yeah, I see that. Cheers, guys.”
“What is it now?”
“You gonna put on a bra or what?”
“I’m going to sleep. I don’t need to wear a bra to bed.”
“Oh, I think you’ll find that you do!”
“Fine. Happy now? Can I sleep?”
“Is it hot in here? We feel kind of hot. It’s hot, right? Are you hot?”
“Jesus, you are hot. Do I have mastitis now? Fuck.”
And on it went.
My boobs did their thing for almost two years. After the painful, milk-squirty mania of the first few months, they settled into being quietly productive. I stopped hating them and started appreciating all of their hard work.
After all, they’re the ones who kept my daughter alive for the first six months of her life. I mean, I helped, but it was mostly them. Before we weaned her onto solid foods, my husband used to say that our daughter was “100% Mummy”. While that’s not strictly true – DNA and all that – he had a point. Everything that she ingested in those early months came from me. My body. My boobs. That’s amazing stuff.
My boobs have since retired, and they’re not looking as perky as they used to, but I’m still damn proud of them.
You did good work, ladies. Even if you were an optional accessory, I’d still choose to put you on, each and every day. You’ve earned it.