Breasts are a wonderful thing. They look good, they feel good, and come in all shapes and sizes. They are unique to each women, and serve many purposes. Women have learnt to use their breasts to their advantage, and it’s safe to say that men can be very easily persuaded when they have a beautiful set of breasts staring them in the face. They can be a lot of fun, and make a woman feel very feminine.
So what happens when you have a baby, and you and your breasts are faced with a new challenge? When suddenly their main function is now about feeding, and keeping a baby alive for months. How do you balance your need to nuture your baby, but still feel feminine and attractive? Is it possible for your breasts to serve two functions when nursing your child?
It’s a known fact that the western world has over sexualised breasts to the point where some women feel uncomfortable to feed in public, and some men are uncomfortable seeing the naked breast unless it is for arousal purposes. I wonder and can only imagine how many difficulties some women face while breastfeeding because of the pressure their partner or society puts on them. And I wonder how many men make a woman feel like breasts are there only for their pleasure and not for a babies nutritional needs.
Are there really any cultures in the world that don’t sexualize breasts? And when did breasts become sexualized? Or have they always been that way? I personally think there can be a healthy balance, but it starts when both the mother and partner have realistic expectations. I believe it can work if there is mutual respect, patience, and understanding of each others needs. From my experience being a mum, and being able to breastfeed made me feel beautiful. I feel accomplished as a mother that my body has worked the way it is meant to, and supported me and my baby through breastfeeding. I know this isn’t the case for all women, and I haven’t taken this blessing for granted.
So how does one balance feeling beautiful, sexy, and woman while breastfeeding? Or when you are breastfeeding should you just stick to the main task of being a mum? Is it unrealistic to expect a mother who nurses her child to also dress and feel sexy?
I know for me I have felt very guarded about my post baby body. I have been reluctant to wear tight fitting clothes, or anything that is like my old wardrobe. For two reasons- Firstly I feel like my body has changed and still coming to terms with it, and secondly most of the clothes I used to wear just aren’t practical for breastfeeding and chasing after a little one. I miss the days where I could wear what ever I want, and not always have to think about dressing so I have access to my breasts for feeds. But I also feel that during the whole pregnancy, labour, birth, and baby journey I shared my whole body with so many people, that I just want a moment to myself where no one is poking or prodding. I have felt a shift in who I am as a woman since having my son, and breastfeeding is a big reason for this. This is because my body is still not mine. I am still sharing it with my baby.
Some people refer to the months you breastfeed as the fourth trimester. Because in essence your baby is still relying on your body for the majority of its nutritional needs. It is a huge commitment. So don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be superwoman. Just focus on being a mum in those early months. The time flies by you, and before you know it, your child will no longer need to breastfeed. It will just be you and your breasts left once again, to feel and look how ever you choose.