When Life Hands You Lemons Make Leaky Lactation Lemonade

by Carrie Saum

Life handed me a truck full of lemons a couple of years ago when my son was born. Stroke, seizures, feeding issues, severe food allergies…the list goes on. It seemed we had challenges galore.

For the last two summers, anytime the mercury rose above 85 degrees, I started feeling like I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I attributed much of that to post partum hormones and unusually hot weather, but the other part was breastfeeding and pumping. Those activities exacerbated the feelings of feeling hot and bothered and honestly, a little rage-y. Hooking up to a pump several times a day and trying to work on breastfeeding with my infant who had special needs with the heat zapping me just wasn’t working

I had to work hard to keep my supply up and not lose my mind. I looked for as many ways to cool down as possible without affecting my supply. I don’t love the heat to begin with, and when it’s close to 100 degrees, my feelings actually get hurt. Why does it have to be so hot? Why does it affect me so badly? How can I take the weather so personally when it isn’t personal even a little bit at all?

{Clearly, living in a cooler climate is better for me. Rain and 75 degree summer days rarely hurt my feelings.}

With all of these lemons, there was only one solution to my needs:

Lemonade.

Lactation lemonade, to be exact.

Lactation Lemonade

I really don’t love tea. I drink tea. I enjoy it about once a month as a soothing, calming, self-care activity. But during the summer heat, hot tea seemed unbearable. So, I took all those lemons and made lemonade and used cold milk-boosting tea instead of water. Once I mixed up a big batch of it, I was able to easily grab a glass a few times a day. I put it in my water bottle and took it with us when we ran errands. A handful of roasted sunflower seeds and a glass of lemonade was the perfect snack to keep me cool and well fuelled while running errands, working, or just doing the day-to-day duties that seem to pile up when you have small babies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 cups brewed mother’s milk tea, cooled
  • sweetener of your choice to taste (I prefer 1 teaspoon of powdered stevia to cut down on sugar, but you can choose conventional sugar, honey added to the tea when it is hot to help it dissolve, or a blend.)

Directions:

  1. In a large pitcher, combine water and tea then stir.
  2. Add sweetner slowly, stirring and tasting often. Sweeten to taste.
  3. If the lemonade is too strong, you can add a little bit of water.
  4. Refrigerate for up to one week.

I hope this summer doesn’t make me cry. But if it does, at least I’ll have some refreshing lemonade to make it better.

Loving that Lemonade,

Carrie

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.

If you like this recipe, check out this recipe for homemade Almond Joy Bars or Creamy Avocado Zoodles over on our sister site, Our Stable Table.


IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields.
With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.
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Leaky Looks: Special Occasions Edition!

by kileah mcilvain

It’s heeeeeere! You know what I’m talking about. You get that beautifully-embossed invitation…followed by another one…and another one…and another one. Graduations, Weddings, Soirees… I don’t know about you but my mind immediately starts racing on just WHAT I’m going to wear to all of these functions. And then I start thinking about FUNCTION. Breastfeeding, without melting into a puddle of lycra and mascara and sweat, feeling comfortable and fabulous….is it even possible?! To that I say YES.

Are you ready for The Leaky Boob to help you take the guesswork out of finding such requirements?! Buckle your nursing bras, Leakies, here are our looks!

Summer Wedding Set:

Wedding Set

This look I centered around a gorgeous wrapped floral dress from Modcloth. The shades of green and cut of the dress compliment a wide range of skin tones and body curves and the lightweight stretch jersey on top provides easy access to breastfeeding (and is comfortable for all-day wear!). I absolutely LOVED the hat (hello shade!) and gold leafed necklace from H&M. Adding a classy white leather diaper bag from Storksak gives you a fashionable way to carry all of your essentials and baby gear and a simple silk Sakura Bloom ring sling pulls out the lighter yellowish green leaves in the dress and provides a simple in-and-out option for your little nursling! I chose a HerRoom Cotton nursing bra (breathable, comfortable with JUST the right amount of support and flexibility!). Finish this look off with a pair of wonderful heeled sandals and you’ve got yourself a look that will keep you cool, comfortable and gorgeously put-together for a day of festivities!

 

Graduation Set

Graduation SetThis look was my (and Jessica’s!) FAVORITE. I went with a gorgeous tulip dress from Modcloth that provides easy pumping/feeding access with a You!Lingerie bra. The floral heels (yes, they’re hard to find but we just COULDN’T resist putting them in!) pull the mint green and pink coral together. Whether you’re in line to receive your diploma or watching a loved one’s big day to turn the tassle, simplicity is KEY-so instead of putting a diaper bag or pumping bag with this look we opted for a simple clutch to carry only the essentials! A lot of graduations end up being outside (HOT) or in a giant stadium with a LOT of people (again, HOT). Things can get loud and long so we added the wonderful lightweight muslin cover in Isla from Bebe au Lait that can provide some breathable privacy and shade for you and baby! We finished this look with a lovely green glass floral necklace and the Tula Naida (mermaids!) wrap and this look is set to both STUN and FUNCTION for such a big day!

 

Evening Set

Evening Soirée

 

We wanted to pull this look together for the Leaky who needs something classy, evening event-appropriate, boob-friendly and absolutely stunning! This look is using a chiffon asymmetrical dress from Torrid with a red lace nursing bra. I added in some Milkies Milk-savers (because sometimes these evening events can go long and Leaky Boobs can happen! #operationSaveLiquidGold can NOW happen! I added in a simple and chic pumping bag from Sarah Wells and some Earth Mama Morning Wellness Spray to keep you feeling fresh, alive and collected throughout the evening (bet you didn’t know it wasn’t JUST for morning sickness! This stuff is amazing). I found this gorgeous “dragonscale” jewelry and just HAD to add it in. Because I am a mama who wants to feel kind of like a badass in social functions…and even a simple statement like jewelry can totally do that for me!

 

There you have it, Leakies! Some inspiration to keep you functioning through the special events of the season! Now-it’s YOUR turn to show us what you’re rocking!

Tag us and use #LeakyLooks and #BoobOutFashion and you could get picked to be featured on our Instagram feed. And STAY TUNED…we’ve got some super exciting extras coming your way…any guesses?!

 

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Strawberry Fennel Salad

by Carrie Saum

It’s springtime, which means everything is blooming, alive, and vital. My body starts craving fresh green veggies, berries, and other seasonal vegetables. One of my favorite salads for this late spring and summer?  Strawberry and fennel with baby kale and goat cheese.  Salads are fast, easy to prep and it doesn’t take much to make them a little fancy.

Getting enough green leafy veggies can also be a challenge for breastfeeding or pumping mamas, and we need those powerful plants to bring nourishment to our babes. Iron is a key component to maternal and infant health, and pregnancy and breastfeeding can take a massive toll on our iron stores. It’s important to keep that in mind as we care for our tiny people and also care for ourselves.

One key component of iron absorption that is commonly overlooked is the necessity of vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a powerful role in assimilation of iron in the body. Think about it this way: Your body produces milk, but the milk doesn’t do much without a way to move it. We use our babies mouths or breast pumps to deliver the milk to the right place so it can be utilized.   In the same way, iron needs vitamin C to deliver it to our bodies’ cells for maximum benefit.  (If you’re interested in learning more about the important role of iron and vitamin c, read this great info from the CDC.)

This salad uses plenty of fresh, iron-rich green veggies, and seasonal strawberries, which are loaded with vitamin C. The addition of fennel provides a gentle boost to your milk supply as well as slightly sweet, bright crunch with a hint of licorice flavor that makes all of the flavors pop.

FennelLactationSalad

If you’re steering clear of cheese, I suggest ripe avocado to add creaminess and healthy fat.  I also have a bottle of pomegranate balsamic vinegar that I use for things like this.  As far as berries are concerned, I tried this with blueberries because we went berry picking last summer and found ourselves with five pounds of blueberry goodness.  IT WAS AMAZING.  I regret not getting a photo of it. But strawberries are a great addition to this salad, and have enough vitamin C to help your body absorb the iron in the greens.

If you use baby kale, this salad stays fresh for 48 hours in the refrigerator, so it’s convenient to make one large salad and snack on it for a couple of days. If baby kale is too much for you or your little one, try baby spinach for a milder flavor and tender texture. It just won’t keep longer than a few hours once it’s dressed.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups baby kale (Baby kale is more like spring greens and less like…kale.)
  • 10 fresh strawberries, sliced and halved
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced thin (I recommend a mandolin)
  • 3-4 oz goat cheese crumbles, or one small avocado, diced
  • small handful of microgreens (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • Herbs d’Provenance
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. Combine all prepped produce in a bowl.
  2. Top with goat cheese and herbs and chia seeds if you’re using them.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegars. Finish with a few shakes of salt and pepper.
  4. Let everyone know you’re a salad magician.

We don’t need to make this harder than it absolutely has to be, mamas.  Keep it simple, easy, and tasty.  The fact that it’s packed full of nutrition just makes it that much better.

It’s Not Easy Being Green,
Carrie

If you like this recipe, check out this Kale Waldorf Salad or Roasted Cauliflower Soup over on Our Stable Table.

*Note: It’s important to point out that most women aren’t going to need to eat food with the intention of upping their milk supply, if everything is working the way it is supposed to, your baby will know how to up your supply just fine themselves. Skin-to-skin and feeding on demand are the best ways to increase breastmilk supply to meet your baby’s needs. (Concerned you have low supply? Read this to help figure out if it is something you need to be concerned about.) For those women, galactalogues just happen and they don’t need to think about it. But some women, like me, do need a boost. As a mom who ended up exclusively pumping and indeed having low supply such that I ended up on medication solely to increase my milk production, I know what it’s like to look for anything, anything at all that would help my body make even just a little more milk to help feed my baby. With the support of my health care providers, we tried everything. It becomes “I will eat all the cookies, I will drink all the shakes, I will eat all the parfaits!” if it even just makes me feel like I’m doing something to address the low supply struggle, it is worth it.
IMG_2895Carrie Saum brings a passion for wellness and over a decade of experience in health care to her clients. A certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor (AWC) from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy, she empowers individuals and families to achieve health and balance through time-honored practices and health knowledge. Carrie has extensive first-hand experience in vast array of medical and service fields. With background in paramedic medicine, Carrie spent ten years serving in the non-profit sector managing organizations, programs, and orchestrating resources to meet health needs of people across the United States and abroad in countries such as Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, and Zambia. As an AWC, Carrie currently coaches her clients and their families about topics including nutrition, weight loss, and stress management. In addition to her work as a wellness counselor, Carrie is a passionate “foodie” and the voice behind OurStableTable.com. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and young son.

 

 

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TLB Comics- Entire Areola

Breastfeeding latch have baby take whole areola

 

*Disclaimer: the more areola a baby can take in their mouth when latched, usually the better. However, every baby and ever mother is different, if there isn’t pain and if baby is growing, There’s no need to stress about the latch. For more on what makes for a good latch and when to see a health care professional, please see this resource.

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Touching After Weaning

by Cindy MacDougall
Cindy and Eddie

The author and her son.

 

My youngest child, four-year-old Eddie, likes my breasts. He likes to hug them, and he will sneak a hand down my shirt occasionally. The family joke is that E. is a boob man.

Eddie loved to breastfeed, and continued to do so until his fourth birthday. When we finally weaned, it was a long and gentle process, which I wrote about in my parenting column here.

After weaning, Eddie still showed a need to touch the “babas” that far outweighed my patience for being touched. I had given him four solid years of nursing, and had been breastfeeding for a total of about nine and a half years over four kids. I was more than ready to have my body to myself.

What I hadn’t counted on was that Eddie and my breasts seemed to have a relationship entirely independent form me – at least in his mind.

“The babas are nice and soft,” he explained once. “I love them. I want to hug them, please.”

“But I don’t want you to touch me right now, Eddie,” I said.

“Oh, I’m not going to touch you, Mama,” he reassured me. “Just the babas.”

Another time, I explained to him that he was a big boy who had been weaned, and that meant no more touching my babas. He erupted in floods of tears.

“But mama, I gave up drinking the babas like a big boy,” he sobbed (taking the opportunity to lay his head on my chest.) “I didn’t know I had to give up touching them. I have to touch them, Mama, sometimes.”

We know from childhood development experts that children need touch in order to properly grow physically, mentally and emotionally. I touch and hug my kids often, as does their dad.

But I had never thought about my children’s needs to touch me back, and especially about a former nursling’s need to occasionally reconnect with the breast as they continue to grow away from being a member of a breastfeeding dyad.

I know Eddie is not alone in this need, as my other children liked to touch my breasts after weaning (though not nearly as much) and I had watched friends go through this same struggle. But I didn’t know how common this need is amongst children, so I did a bit of Googling to find out.

The La Leche League International message board has several long threads of posts about toddler and pre-schoolers touching breasts after weaning. One mother there described her child as “boob-obsessed,” and others described patting, rubbing, pinching and touching. Some kids were sneaky about it; others outright asked; some needed to touch the breasts to fall asleep.

Dr. Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist and founder of the parenting web site Aha! Parenting, wrote about weaned children touching the breast in her “Ask the Doctor” feature.

“It is very common for toddlers to need to touch their mother’s breasts for comfort or to fall asleep for as much as a year after weaning,” she wrote to a concerned mother. “Your breasts symbolize comfort and safety and love to her…. So if she is clingy, just give her lots of extra reassurance and realize that this is the final stage of weaning.”

It’s good to know Eddie is normal, if enthusiastic, in his need to have some cuddle time with his, ahem, my, “babas.” And the closer we move to his fifth birthday, the less often he seems to need to touch them.

If you’re dealing with a similar situation, there’s no need to change or challenge the habit if you’re both happy and comfortable.

However, if it’s driving you bananas, think of this as an excellent opportunity to teach your child about body autonomy. Your breasts are yours, after all, and it’s important to teach kids that each of us own our own bodies, and no one can touch us, or them, without consent (barring medical necessity, safety, etc.) That gives permission to set the same limits with their own bodies, to be able to say “no” to unwanted touch.

With Eddie, I made rules: no touching the “babas” unless he asked, only at home, and only a hug or cuddle. He seems to be approaching the end of this “final stage of weaning” and hasn’t asked in a while.

Despite what our society tells us, touching each other, with permission, is generally healthy. For small children, the breasts are about love and nutrition, not sexuality. If we are comfortable with that and allow them healthy touch, it teaches them good things about the body and physical forms of affection.

 _________________________

Cindy MacDougall is a writer, a mother of four children, a public relations professional, and a former parenting columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. She covered health issues for CBC North Radio One for seven years, and is a recipient of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada’s 2004 Journalism Award for Excellence in Women’s Health Reporting for her radio series “Into the Mouths of Babes: Breastfeeding in the Northwest Territories.”
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TLB Comics- Useful Shape

 

by Jennie Bernstein

Shape of boobs breastfeeding babywearing The Leaky Boob comic*Disclaimer: studies show that breastfeeding does not cause breasts to sag.

 

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Boob Out Fashion: Put It On and Go Edition

 

 

You know all of that time I have to get ready every day with 4 kids under 7? No? Well neither do I! Which is why putting on clothes that are breastfeeding-friendly and carrier-friendly should be a no-brainer. Sometimes before this mama brain has had coffee, trying to wrap my head around picking out a functional outfit that doesn’t look like “I gave up on today” can be somewhat of an olympic feat (at least to me!). So, I chose these looks to help us (ME) along with the process. Because no one mama should have to live through wardrobe crisis when there are little ones to keep alive! I’ve gotta say that it always makes me feel a little better about those nighttime marathon nursing sessions when I feel and look good during the day!

So. Sit back, grab that coffee you’ve probably warmed up 3 times already (no shame!) and see my latest inspiration for this week!                  xoxo-Kileah

 

Look #1: Nursing Chic

Maxi dresses are one of the best ways to look fabulous without a lot of effort and brain crisis. They’re comfortable, breezy, hit your curves in the best way and you can dress them up or down with jewelry or a jean vest! (Yes, jean vests are IN, ladies! and they look good with almost EVERYTHING.) I paired a Sakura Bloom sling, an Amy Michelle Zebra Diaper Bag, and a gorgeous chewbead necklace from Nursing Novi. Pops of color. A Wide-brimmed black hat means that non-showered hair suddenly becomes beach chic! I added in the super-comfy Rose Mousse Contour nursing bra by Cake Lingerie and BAM. Look made. Zero effort.

Leaky Boob Looks Boob Out Fashion 04.22.15 Nursing Chic

Look #2: Put It On and Go

Jessica asked me to do a look last week that was “something more than yoga pants” but still comfortable! So, here it is! Remember those boyfriend jeans I keep raving about? Well I’m doing it again! Playful You nursing bra by You! Lingerie paired with your favorite nursing bra under a Sly Fox Threads t-shirt and hoodie. An inexpensive but cute embellished hat and Toms cordones lace-ups (I have these. I also live in these when I’m not living in my doc martens.) are finished off with a Beco Carrier in “Steps.” This? This outfit is magic. It’s a take on the “t-shirt and jeans” but stepped up a notch! Ready for Mom Life!

Leaky Boob Looks Boob Out Fashion 04.22.15 Put it on and go

Look #3: Easy Chic

This tunic-type striped dress is BRILLIANT because it has a waist-tie you can use to accentuate as little or as much as you want of your shape! It also has an easy v-neck bodice that you can pop out a breast to feed baby easily while carrying them in this red Ergo Original carrier. (I mean, just LOOK at that red! LOVE.) I added in the Forever Yours Emerald nursing bra from Hot Milk Lingerie because it’s comfy lightweight, and the Babymel Ruby Rucksack in Mocha. This bag is a veritable organizers dream. (or my dream. whatever. ha!) Add in a nice strappy sandal and a statement piece of jewelry (I added in a hammered brass bracelet!) and you’re ready to rock your day in comfort.

Leaky Boob Looks Boob out Fashion Easy Chich 04.22.15

Like these looks? Tell us! Put together your own look and tag us on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest to show us how YOU rock your mom look! We may FEATURE you in an upcoming look! 

#booboutfashion #LBLwednesday 

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LBL Wednesday- Boob Out Fashion: Leakies Vote!

So this week on The Leaky Boob Facebook Community, I put it to your vote: Choose YOUR favorite look and I’ll do a #flatlay collection featuring a boob-friendly look based on that theme!

Bohemian/Hippie Mama and Beach Mama came in First and Second by a landslide with Portlandia Mama a close Third! So without further adieu, I give you Leaky Boob Looks: Leakies Edition.

Leaky Look #1: Bohemian Hippie Mama

 

Breastfeeding friendly fashions

I found this A-MAZ-ING paisley bohemian dress that functions as a wrap-style dress (I need this. In all of the colors.).  The bodice and skirt hit all the right spots and give a flowing freestyle look while the neckline is perfect for easy feeding access! I paired this up with the Glamour Mom Nursing Bra Full Bust Long Top. Sleek, comfortable, crafted to celebrate your beautiful curves! I added in a Luv My Bag in Namaste Poppins and some bangled gladiator sandals (it’s like they were MADE for this dress!) and finished it off with some coordinating Chewbeads bangles and necklace. Because teething. And distractions.

 

Leaky Look #2: Beach Mama

Ergo baby breastfeeding beach ready

 

I wanted this Beachy look to be comfortable and easy to throw on and go! Stripes for this loose cotton shirt and the cut is longer so it can work over fitted jeans OR shorts. I added the Bella Materna Anytime Nursing Bralette both for its comparable range of sizes but also for its all-day comfort! I had to include the Ju-Ju-Be “The Admiral” bag (because ANCHORS, Leakies! Seriously. Cute.) and the Ergo Original Carrier in Marine. (Whales. Beach. Follow me? :D). Finished off the look with easy on-easy off Birks. Because no one wants to get sand in their shoes!

 

Leaky Look #3: Portlandia Mama

Breastfeeding friendly fashion

 

This look was so fun to put together! I am a PDX mum myself (disclaimer I live in Vancouver. I love it. We locals affectionately call it either Vantucky or the Suburb of Portland. But Portland is basically my second skin. And just a 3 minute drive away! Long live Vantucky!) I confess that I have these particular boots and I live in them. And they make me feel like a badass mom. Amazing how shoes can do that. Ok. Moving On :D  I centered this look around one of my favorite sweatshirts from Sly Fox Threads over a Naked Nursing Tank. We Portlanders are pretty laid back, eclectic and a little particular, but we really value our comfort. Boyfriend jeans are super “in”, flatter nearly every body shape and go with just about any kind of boot, shoe, sandal or loafer that you put with it! AND they don’t look like mom jeans. WIN. We are really conscious of our choice in natural and organic anything. Hence the Alexa Organics teething necklace! Finished off this look with a great wool Fedora and a low-profile diaper handbag and now YOU can rock the Portlandia look!

 

Show us how YOU rock your Leaky Look! Tag us on Facebook or Instagram and use hashtags #booboutfashion     #LBLWednesday

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F-cup, As In Frick, Those Are Some Big Boobs- Breastfeeding and Large Breasts

by Joni Edelman
 this post made possible by the generous sponsorship of Rumina Nursingwear.
Joni Edelman and family

The author and her family.

 

 

Let me just start this off right by saying, YAY. All caps YAY. Jessica asked me to write this guest post my and first thought was, naturally, “Who? Me? Are you SURE? But I’m not worthy. It was a real Wayne’s World moment, and if you don’t know what Wayne’s World is, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. Mostly because it would imply that I am old. Which I am not. In any case, once I was able to return to standing, I remembered that I have boobs and they have collectively nursed 10 years and 5+ kids.

Editor’s note: I nearly fainted when she said yes she would write for us! And having fed babies meant she was infinitely qualified to write for TLB. Also, Wayne’s World was a Saturday Night Live skit from the late 80’s turned feature film in the early 90’s for those of you too young to be reading this, I mean, get the reference. Back to Joni…

Speaking of boobs, let’s talk about mine! They’re round(ish). They have nipples. The right one is bigger than the left. And because the right one is bigger than the left, the right nipple points sort of downward in an ode to gravity, and my bellybutton. And speaking of gravity, my boobs and gravity, they are well acquainted. In addition to being round, nipple bearing, disproportionate, and subject to gravity, they are also large. As of this writing, they thoroughly fill an F cup. F is for frick. As in frick, those are some big boobs.

I digress. Let me start from the start. I was born in the early 70s. In the early 70s women were setting their bras on fire and such, which in hindsight seems pretty sensible. I imagine my mother, cut off shorts and tube top, perched on my dad’s shoulders at a Janis Joplin concert, waving her bra in the air, screaming, “THE MAN WILL NOT HOLD ME DOWN.” Or some other such profound feminist thing. As a consequence of the bra burning, my mom wasn’t really wearing bras. As such, I was quite intimately aware of her small sloping breasts and thumb size nipples (which seemed really grotesque to me at 7, but which I now see as relatively common, as in mine look just like that).

I personally didn’t have any boobs. I was 99.7% sure that I was destined to bear the chest of a 10 year old boy until such day as I left this earth.

Then when I was 16 I went to Europe. And while in Europe I ate a lot of pasta/nutella/bread/gelato. Because I was there for quite a while, all that pasta/nutella/bread/gelato basically adhered itself to my butt and chest. Tada. By miracle of chocolate and hazelnuts, plus a sprinkling of hormones, my boobs were born.

breastfeeding through pregnancy

Joni breastfeeding and pregnant.

And then my first baby was born when I was 20. No one in my family had breastfed a baby since The Grapes of Wrath. So no one really talked about it and no one could, or would, really tell me about it. But I decided I was going to figure it out so I equipped myself with two boobs full of milk and three nursing bras.

I nursed that baby and then her brother and his brother and his sister and her brother. And if you lost count, that’s five. Plus some random babies here and there because I am cow-like in milk production. Milk glands are like sweat glands. So making milk is akin to sweating. I sweat a lot and I also make a lot of milk. COINCIDENCE?

The milk sweating doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact that I have two boulders attached to my chest. That’s mostly just genetics. I’m German and when I consider my family tree I picture a busty barmaid in a corset with a tray of beer. Wait. That’s the St. Pauli girl. In any case, where these suckers came from may remain a mystery but what is not a mystery is that they are big.

I was fit for a nursing bra after that first baby, because the three I bought looked like I was trying to shove a watermelon into a tube sock. When the lovely lady at Pea in a Pod (or something. It was the early 90s, the options were slim) measured me and declared me a 34G, I must have turned some shade of white/green, because even she looked alarmed.

Ten year old boy to Dolly Parton. Bam.

Bras and nursing tanks are more readily available now, but in the 90s if you wanted a special size you had to order it. From a catalogue. I know. It was the dark ages. We just all sat around looking at our catalogues by candlelight and eating our curds and whey.

Milk ducts actually increase with the birth/nursing of each subsequent child. Which basically means that by now, I’m equipped with enough milk-sweat glands to feed a not very small village. I nursed my last baby 2.5 years from a G cup.

Nursing with breasts this plentiful has it’s benefits, and of course it’s downfalls. Discuss.

Boos:

  • Buying a bra is no easy feat. Forget off the rack, unless you go to Sports Authority and buy two hammocks and whipstitch them together.
  • Discretion is not easy. It’s hard enough to keep a baby covered much less a breast the size of volleyball. I never even tried. Look stranger, I double dog dare you.
  • Your giant breast may inadvertently smoosh into your baby’s face. Not like suffocation level though (because babies are born with that little nose channel to help them breathe, probably in circumstances such as these) but smoosh, non the less.
  • It’s more likely that your infant will inadvertently latch on to the side your breast, simply because there is so. much. boob.
  • Your back is probably going to hurt from lugging around a pair of tatas heavier than your baby.

 

Breastfeeding with large breasts

The author and her two youngest

Yays:

  • Looking like Dolly Parton. (This can actually fall into either category. The former, from my perspective)
  • In the event you are tandem nursing, it is quite easy to nurse two children at once, even if they are not near each other.
  • In that same category, you can nurse on your back. Because your breasts simply fall down. The one time gravity and breasts work together toward a common goal.
  • Ever been on a long car drive with a crying baby. Boob in the carseat and you don’t have to dangerously lean over the seat. Need I say more?

Despite my lack of support/example/community I nursed all five of my babies until they stopped. I’m profoundly grateful for my E.5 (left) and F (right) breasts. They have served gallons and gallons of meals to a bevy of babies. My gratitude is expressed by way of a well fitting bra, ordered from a catalogue. Just kidding, thankfully it’s from Cacique. Which is good because I’m fresh out of candles.

 

Joni Edelman
I’m Joni. I’m lucky enough to have 5 amazing kids (19, 16, 15, 4 and 2), one fantastic husband, an awesome sister and a yarn addiction. When I’m not raising up people I’m a freelance writer, RN, and the momma behind mommabare. Love is my religion. I like cake and crafty crap. And yoga. In that order. 
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More Than a Pair of Tits, But Can I Be Human?

by Jessica Martin-Weber
Breasts. Comfort? Sex things? Feeding utensils? Provocative snares? Defining body parts? Or just a pain in the neck?

Breasts. Comfort? Sex things? Feeding utensils? Provocative snares? Defining body parts? Or just a pain in the neck?

Once, a supportive male boss told me I was more than a pair of tits. Thanks, I think, so what does that make me? What about other women?

Breasts are at once over celebrated and under appreciated. The bastion of physical femininity, breasts rise up before young girls as the ultimate marker of becoming a woman while at the same time being berated for tripping men up and getting too much attention. Slap a pair of breasts overflowing a lacy bra on the side of a bus and watch the accidents’ ticker tape start rolling. As for coming of age, periods shmeriods, it’s not the uterus the world notices, it’s your tits! We idolize the lactating breast as the best, the mark of superior motherhood, yet we worship the sexually available ready to have fun-oh-sex-goddess-of-desire-breasts as the mark of superior womanhood. Shake those milk jugs and bring all the boys to your yard! Here’s a cover for feeding your babies, don’t let that disgusting best milk of awesome slutty motherness get anywhere or be noticed and here are some pasties for when you set aside your mom of the year sash at night and it’s time to BLOW HIS MIND!

The messages we get about our breasts and our bodies, messages we may internalize, can end up defining us. They don’t have to but often they do without us realizing it. Our successes and our failures may be measured against these messages. We all want to pretend we don’t care what other people think, but the truth is most of us do to an extent. Understandably so because none of us want to be alone. We actually need each other, need community, and needing people means we care about what they think.  Sometimes we can’t see past the tips of our nipples. Sometimes, we can’t see past the tips of other women’s nipples either. And more and more we can’t see past the tip of an artificial nipple. Do men have to put up with anything like this? Society gets their panties in a bunch when a woman feeds her baby no matter how she does it, oddly enough, not so much when a dad feeds his baby. Men get accolades for “babysitting” (AKA: parenting) and adored for feeding their child. Women get covers, judgment, shunning, and news reports. Why? Because they’re women. And there are breasts involved even when not being used.

When I began developing I mostly had a feeling of dread tinged with excitement about my impending new appendages. Then they were real, not just a developing idea, they were really, really there and I was thrilled, I was a woman, not only did I bleed between my legs, I had BOOBS! That lasted for all of 2 minutes and came crashing down when I realized that when properly clothed, the tiny bits I had wouldn’t bounce joyfully in a bra, wouldn’t fill out a bathing suit, they wouldn’t even cause a disturbance in the fabric of my shirt. I got mosquito bites for breasts. There had been fire ant bites on my ankles bigger than my tits. Before my breasts grew, I hated the idea of having my own pair of tits and being seen as a sexy symbol of busty lust but once they set up a very disappointing shop on my chest, I wanted nothing more. I had been betrayed!

They were supposed to be alluring. Sexy. Comforting. Nurturing. All at once. Instead, my breasts were barely there. My disappointment was palpable. Unlike my breasts.

My mother has fabulous breasts and I had a deep appreciation for them. To comfort me when mine were disappointing she shared how she had tiny tits once too. But then she got pregnant and breastfed, and my brother, sister, and I gave her the gift of big boobs which stuck around after all her children weaned. It was hope. Except, of course, there wouldn’t be any tits there for my some-day-partner to feel up and lead to baby making, my chest still looked, and felt, like a preteen boy’s. If the only thing that was going to change that was having babies, I might have a problem.

Later, after I had managed the baby making feat, my breasts would still be disappointingly small and my mother, out of love and concern, would come to me with an offer from her and my dad. Breast implants, they would pay for them to ensure my husband was satisfied with me sexually and would not leave me and my daughters. Because they believed what I had long suspected, with my tiny tits, I couldn’t possibly be enough.

Breastfed or not, little girls and boys tend to find comfort at their mother’s or a mother-figure’s breast. Nurturing and comforting, breasts are just pleasant. Why? I’m not sure anybody really knows. Biologically it’s probably because they are both sustenance for the infants of our species and have a certain erotic appeal that helps with the continuation of the species. But none of us are thinking about that when we’re drawn to them. Besides, essentially breasts are skin covered sacks of fat with some glandular tissue and milk ducts thrown in for functionality. They’re more complicated than that, but when you break it down, boobs are fat bags with nerves. Which hardly sounds attractive at all. Still, humans are drawn to these fat bags, the human female breast. At first for food and comfort, then for fascination, and then for sex. Sex, of course, leads to more babies and the cycle starts all over again. Beautiful, important, and confusing.

Are they ever really even ours?

How do we reconcile how we’ve seen our mother’s breasts, the breasts of other maternal figures, the breasts of our peers, the breasts of celebrities, and even the different stages and functions of our own breasts? There’s no switch we get to flip, you know. Moving from one phase of boob love to the next is complicated and confusing. Often it doesn’t go smoothly and there’s struggle involved. Find nurturing comfort and sustenance at the breast, baby! Stop that. Grow some tits! Stop that. Cover them up! Stop that. Flaunt them! Stop that. Boobs = sex! Stop that. Nurture a child with them! Stop that. Play things for your partner! Stop that. Tie them up, nobody wants to see those tired old things hitting your knees, that’s not SEXY! How do we go from being comforted at the breast, to admiring breasts, to wanting our own breasts, to discovering how the world sees breasts, to embracing the sensuality of our breasts, to properly covering them, then by just having breasts somehow being responsible for being harassed for sex, forget the nurturing stuff breasts are for sex, have a baby and hold them to your chest and just be ok with now your baby’s mouth and hands and head are there more than your sexual partner’s. Be a good child, a good sex goddess, a nurturing goddess and don’t be a slut or a bad mom or sexually unavailable. Do. It. All. What you do with your boobs, how you dress them, how you use them, how you present them, and how others notice them requires a lot of time and energy. A defining factor of how others see us and more importantly, how we see ourselves. The shape of our breasts can shape us.

Which can mess with our heads.

I talk with women every day about their breasts. It’s a casual conversation, but honest. Women are surprisingly willing to talk about them, if somewhat hesitant at first. But talking about our tits is kind of like taking our bras off at the end of the day: HALLELUJAH, I DON’T HAVE THAT CONSTRICTIVE TORTURE DEVICE HOLDING ME UP ANY MORE! I CAN BREATHE! We can talk about our boobs! You see, everyone else is talking about them and we know it. Men, fashion designers, doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, fashion magazines, politicians… you name it, everyone’s talking about our tits. Except us. Some of us are still whispering “breast” before cancer because even the word makes us uncomfortable. We’re not supposed to actually notice our own breasts! And noticing the breasts of others comes with baggage packed with jealousy and judgement. We’re certainly not supposed to be talking about them. Feel your boobies? Ok, but could we not say that out loud please? Don’t you just have a card I can stick in my underwear drawer for a monthly reminder? To talk about our breasts means we have to dance our words around in a complicated choreography of avoiding the conflict and appreciation we have about our own chests. It’s not a safe dance. If we like them, we sound like we’re bragging. If we don’t like them, we sound like we don’t enjoy being women. If we enjoy them in sex, we wonder if we’re weird. If we don’t enjoy them in sex, we’re pretty sure we sound frigid. If we’re proud of them, we’re going to be heard as putting down other women. If we’re not proud of them, we’re perceived as being dissatisfied. Most of all, we wonder how much of our success as women, as sexual partners, as mothers is tied up in these things we contain between some elastic, padding, and maybe a bit of wire. If we participate in titty talk, do we risk exposing ourselves with our womanly failures to the world? Are we enough?

Sometimes, our breasts and all the baggage that society hands us to go with them, get in the way of remembering we are human. Perhaps we could connect with our own humanity a little bit deeper by appreciating our breasts without shame, no longer worrying about how others are or are not using theirs, and talking about our own breasts without apologetic whispers. And to look in the mirror and tell ourselves we are enough.IMG_3816.JPG

This post is inspired by a portion of one of the talks sponsored by Ergobaby and Ameda, Inc. at MommyCon 2015.

 

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