Boobs: My Breast Friends

Boobs.

Please commence giggling like a seventh grader at the mere mention of the word. I know I still do.

As the boobs I was dreaming of in the second trimester have returned to their “squeeze them together just so and there will be cleavage” status, I’m very aware that soon they’ll actually serve a purpose besides filling out my shirts.

As they’re about to move from sexy to functional, and at the news that many insurance companies now cover breast pumps and other nursing support free of charge, I can’t help but reflect on the breastfeeding process as I prep for my re-commitment to the boob.

Breastfeeding is baptism by fire. The body starts the milk making process no matter what a lady decides to do and that process ain’t easy. Holy engorgement I’m talking to you. The fiasco that is the milk coming in is one I remember all too well.

If someone had said, “you’re going to be sobbing, sweating, and topless on the floor while your jugs are as hard as rocks, huge, real, and not spectacular,” I would have wondered if there was another way. No amount of pre-ruffage of the nipples or cabbage leaves assuaged the pain. Endurance was the name of the game or “this too shall pass.”

The actual nursing part hurt for a much longer haul. It took six weeks for my bits to stop cracking and bleeding and feeling like a tiny piranha was gnawing them off. I’d been warned about the actual time it takes for nursing to stop hurting, but it still didn’t stop me from crying every time my daughter latched in an odd mixture of happiness that she was getting it, and silent expletives at how bad it hurt.

There is just so much to breastfeeding. It takes planning: easy access clothes, a place to nurse, timing, paraphernalia (nipple shields, hooter hiders, whatever a lady fancies). It’s hard to be at the beck and call of the boob. Nursing boobs themselves are awkward lumps of milk, leakage, and unpredictability. They, like most of us in the middle school years, need a while to work their awkward out.

Also, I nursed in isolation for much of the time my first go round and that my friends, is enough to send a lady to the loony bin. Listening to everyone in the other room yuck it up made me more than a wee bit lonely. This time, I know better.

I refuse to let my hangups about nursing in public or in front of others hold me back. Boob schmoobs. Ain’t no thing. I’m feeding my kid when I need to and if somebody sees something in the process, lucky them.

After the initial six week transition, breastfeeding got easier and enjoyable, but at times it was still just plain endurable.

Nursing is not always ethereal, natural, toplessness in fields of flowers (actual images retrieved when searching “breastfeeding” on the stock photo website). Sometimes, it’s simply primal grunts, guzzles, and slurps. I think something in that is incredible though. It’s doable. And even, lovable.

Despite the difficulty it was to nurse at times, I really did love it. It was just more of a frenemies to friends, to lovers kind of relationship. More romantic comedy/horror than straight romance.

I’m an advocate of breastfeeding but not because it’s easy or I loved every second. I’m no La Leche League member, but I am a believer and supporter in what the body can do. It’s amazing. And sometimes ridiculously hard.

It can be rough for so many reasons but I’m hoping with my Bachelor’s in breastfeeding, I’m ready for my Master’s this go round. I hear it’s typically easier the second time. I’m optimistic about a smoother transition, but I’m not afraid to be a little bamboozled by the girls again.

I’m praying with my previous experience that my boobs will be bigger, better, faster stronger at this nursing thing.

Image: Mother nursing a newborn via Zurijeta/Shutterstock.com

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  1. by Amanda N.

    On January 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I had a hard time brestfeeding my first baby because I was young and uninformed about it but thanks to breast shells I breastfed my other three children.

  2. by Hayley E.

    On January 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing the very real side of breastfeeding. I nursed my son until he was 16mo old. I “lucked out” and had excruciating pain for only the first 2.5 weeks. I’m so thankful I endured and that I have such a supportive husband. He held my hand during those unbelievably painful “latching on” seconds and reminded me to breathe. I wouldn’t have it any other way, looking back on it, and I hope I can breastfeed my future babies, as well.

  3. by Teresa

    On January 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    I was sitting here sobbing about 15mins ago. I am currently breastfeeding my second child and it has been very difficult this time around. My first child, so easy. I actually named her my piranha because I’m on my third week and my nipples are so painful. I came across this article just when I needed a pick me up. Thanks for sharing! Good luck on your second endeavor.

  4. by Sarah

    On January 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    It won’t be easier the next go-round. Sorry to say… it was the most painful with my 3rd. At least I know to expect it with my 4th (My first and 2nd didn’t hurt nearly as much as my 3rd). I guess I’m “prepared” for the pain, but not really, lol.

  5. by Bekka Besich

    On January 13, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Teresa,

    I am so sorry it’s been difficult. I feel your pain. It is so hard and just do the best you can. Best of luck it gets easier soon.

  6. by Bekka Besich

    On January 13, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Sarah,

    I appreciate the honest warning. I like to know that it could be worse with each go round. Like you said, it helps me “prepare.” I’m sure I’ll be bawling my eyes out but at least I knew it was coming. That’s all a mama can do sometimes.

  7. by Jessica

    On January 14, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    My first was so easy… This time though, it was horrible. I cracked. Then bled. Every time she latched on it sent pain clear den to my toes and when my husband asked why I was flinching I had to stop myself from giving him a titty-twister. I went to th lactation nurses. I sobbed as I pumped because I wanted the same lovely experience as I had with my son. Then my breasts were red and so engorged I was sure I had mastitis. I bought hydrogel pads for soothing comfort, just to find out they are made from glycerin which I am completely allergic to. So now the gals are red, swollen, cracked, bleeding, and when I wake up in the morning they are green with infection. Mind you, this is only 10 days after my sweet baby was born. After a round of penicillin and 3 MONTHS of a topical anti-biotic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory cream, and a 4th month before the wounds fully close, not to mention the fumbling around with nipple shells, nipple shields, and nursing covers to hide my gruesomeness… I finally had fully functioning nursing properly working breasts. Now this sweet baby is 6 onths old. There are times I am afraid I may have to cut her off just to get her to eat for babysitters/daddy when I am at work, but then I remember how hard she and I worked to get to this place and I can’t do it. I love nursing, and I am so amazed at how well my poor breasts healed after all that.

    Sorry for such a long post.

  8. by Bekka Besich

    On January 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Jessica,
    Don’t apologize for the long post! That’s a story people need to hear. Nursing is hard. I had mastitis for awhile and that is no joke. I give you a huge standing ovation for your dedication. It sounds like it was really rough and I am so impressed with your determination and outlook. Thanks for sharing.

  9. by Jessica

    On January 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Honestly, I just knew that eventually it would be over, and eventually I would hardly remember it and that it was worth persevering. If only all my trials in life had a clear end.

  10. by Susan

    On January 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Within 2 months of nursing my first, I ended up in surgery to drain an abscess in my boob. I was uneducated and tried to schedule feedings and time them which I know know is wrong. The doctors said I would probably not have enough tissue in the boob to fully satisfy any other children. I successfully nursed my second for 13 months and the boob that I had surgery on always produced more than the other. I know my situation is rare but I had the desire to nurse my future kids and worked hard to make sure I did.

  11. by Krista

    On January 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Other than the engorgement the first time around, be prepared to hate me, but i had it so easy with both my girls! I got extremely lucky! I know it’s not easy for everyone, but it’s always worth a try. Also, nurses don’t always know what they are talking about, so do what you need to do to be successful at breastfeeding if that’s what you want!!

  12. by Leah

    On January 15, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    My favorite lie about breastfeeding: “if the latch is correct it will not hurt at all.” LIES! After a great first feed right after baby boy was born he slipped his latch and was just chewing and gumming my nipple and it hurt so bad I wanted to stab my eyes out! My salvation came in the form of an amazing lactation consultant who corrected the latch in seconds but it still hurt like a mo fo. She asked me how much it hurt and I said the pain makes me want to die… then she gave me these AMAZING sticky rubber nipple things which seriously healed my nipples in 24 hours. Find these and you are golden! We’ve been enjoying the “running topless through a field of flowers” type of breastfeeding ever since!

  13. by Bekka Besich

    On January 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Krista,

    I don’t hate, I congratulate. I’m all about the breastfeeding and it’s especially nice when it just works. Props to you and your boobs.

  14. by Bekka Besich

    On January 15, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Leah,

    I agree that is a lie! They said the latch was perfect but it still hurt worse than labor! Okay, maybe I’m a baby. But dang gina, it hurt. FOREVER. I’m gonna need to know more about these miracle rubber nipples stat. I want them in my arsenal for round two. I want the running topless experience so many women have:)

  15. by Jessica

    On January 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Awesome- love it!

  16. by Sara

    On January 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

    I’m sure you all have heard it before, and probably won’t believe me…but breast feeding should not hurt! I swear to you. ;-) We have a “store” here where I’m from (Nebraska) that is solely devoted to nursing mothers, with certified lactation consultants and a doctor that works there. They offer all sorts of classes to get you prepped for nursing. That is one of the most important things they tell you is “It should NOT hurt!” I took the classes and still ended up with cracked bleeding shooting pain nipples. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, I kept saying it shouldn’t hurt, it shouldn’t hurt. What the f?! LOL So I made an appointment and saw a lactation consultant, best money I have ever spent!! I was just postitioning my son wrong, one little tweak and bam NO PAIN! Swear! With my next baby I was a pro and knew what I was doing and no pain! If you have pain while nursing and have a certified lactation consultant in your area I highly recommend you go see them!! :-)