Reasons To Love Your Body Right Now

by Joni Edelman

joni edelman, love your body, body image

It seems of all the things we love, it’s hardest to love ourselves. Maybe it’s the ideal we are being sold by the media. Maybe it’s borne out of comparison. Maybe there’s no real explanation at all. I’m not really certain, though I suspect it’s a bit of all of those. We love our partners, our children, even our dogs (even though they chew on things and poop on things). But at the end of the day, we look in the mirror, we poke, we pull, we loathe. Many of us do it. Most of us do it. I don’t know why we exhaust ourselves to be something besides ourselves.

Here is what I do know, if you can’t love yourself (or at least just be OK with yourself), right now, as you are, you’re wasting your time. You’re wasting your energy. You’re wasting your spirit. You’re wasting your life. I spent most of my adult life fighting the body I live in. I tried to change it. I dieted. I exercised to excess, to self-harm. I starved myself. I wore things to try to squish my body, to shape my body — anything, to change it into something I would love.

And then one day — literally one day — I decided I was done. I was done hating. I was done starving. I was done with disgust, anger, envy, loathing. I was done comparing myself to people on TV, people in magazines, people in the grocery store. I was just… done.

Am I 100% successful, 100% of the time? No. Some days are better than others. Some days I see myself in a photo, and I think, “Well. Your stomach looks there is a baby in it [there isn’t].” Some days I briefly entertain going back to the not eating and obsessive exercising. And then I remind myself of all the following. I hope you can remind yourself too.

You are not your body.

Your body is part of you, but you are not it. You may be lot of things; human, a female/male/transgender/non-binary, 41 years old (in my case anyway), a mother, a partner, a sibling, an artist, a writer, a gardener, a cake aficionado. You are not your body. There is more to you than your physical form. So much more than what the mirror reflects.

Your body is working for you.

You are breathing and moving. Your blood is circulating. Your stomach is digesting. You literally have to do nothing to make all of that happen. Sometimes it’s good to just pause and recognize that your body is giving you a lot. Maybe instead of loathing it, you could thank it for all the stuff it is doing that you aren’t even asking it to do.

Your body is impermanent.

Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, Mother Earth, Zeus, Physics, Oprah or Tom Cruise, we can all agree (I think) that at some point our physical body will cease to exist. Whether we go to heaven, or the sky, or Venus, or into oblivion, or are reincarnated into a whole new thing, or if our particles just go back into the universe, we won’t be this thing forever. At some point this thing will just be a thing that existed and then didn’t.

Capitalism wants you to hate yourself.

There are industries based on your self-consciousness. If America got up tomorrow and said, “Yeah, I’m actually done spending money on things to make myself look ostensibly better.”, ENTIRE industries would completely cease to exist. The cosmetic industry makes $60 billion dollars a year IN AMERICA alone. That said BILLION. DOLLARS. The diet industry? Twenty MORE billion. That’s like $80 billion dollars. We could literally cure world hunger with $30 billion dollars a year and we are spending $20 billions a year trying to lose weight. Just let that simmer for a minute. The commercials you see? They are designed to make you feel bad. Don’t be fooled. Be angry.

You are the only one who really cares.

At the end of the day, your stretch marks only matter to you. Your partner loves you regardless — and if they don’t, you have another problem to address. Not one of my five children, not the 20-year-old not the three-year-old, quite literally none of them ever have said, “Wow mom I really hate your stretchmarks.” Never once. Your fat, your wrinkles, your spider veins, you are the only one who cares. Until you don’t.

There are other things you could be doing.

If you even spend 15 minutes a day thinking about your body, can you think of anything else you could do with that 15 minutes. Can you think of anything? Could you read a book? Learn a language? Knit? Crochet? Spend time with your kids? Your partner? If you stopped worrying about your body, what else could you do?

At the end of your life, you WILL NOT EVER say “I wish I looked better.”

I’m an RN and I used to be a hospice RN. I solemnly swear, of all the people I watched die (and it was a lot), none of them ever said, “I wish I were skinny. I wish I had fewer stretch marks. I wish my stomach were flat.” NONE. Not even one. Ever. I bet you want to know what they did say. I’ll tell you. 1. I wish I had spent more time with my family. 2. I wish I had been more open and expressive with my love. 3. I wish I had mended fences sooner (or not broken the fence in the first place).

Why not start doing those things now? You don’t have to be diagnosed with a terminal illness to shift your focus.

You get one body. You get to do this whole thing one time. What if you could just enjoy it? How would that change everything?

____________________

IMG_0670Joni M. Edelman is a feminist, wife, mom of five, Editor In Chief at ravishly.com, and (sometimes) RN. You can read her relevant, relatable writing around the internet. Subject matter addressed includes, but is not limited to; body positivity, parenting, mental health, cake.
Likes: cake, yarn, root vegetables. Dislikes: pants, mosquitos, writing in third-person.
Follow Joni on twitter and instagram.
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Breastfeeding and Teenage Boys

by Joni Edelman

Joni Edelman, family photo

Sometime in the early 2000s, a friend was visiting my house for a playdate. Nothing special, just the typical crackers and raisins and toys all over the house sort of thing. We were just sitting on the couch, chatting and eating ice cream — you know, like stay at home moms do — and mid sentence, she paused, “Joni, what is THAT?”

‘That’ was a book on my ottoman (not coffee table because, hello, no coffee tables with five toddlers running around). ‘That’ was a book by Anne Geddes, a large coffee table (ottoman) book. It featured photographs of women — in all states of pregnancy and postpartum — their babies, and sometimes babies that weren’t theirs. You get what I’m saying; there were babies and ladies. Oh and also, they were nude, or partly nude.

I said, “It’s a… book?” Other Less Free-Spirited Mom says, “BUT THEY ARE NAKED. Aren’t you afraid your kids will see this? They are TOTALLY NAKED.”

Astute observation, Queen of Obvious. The commoners are so lucky to have you.

“No. I’m not really worried about them finding it because I read it to them. I don’t want them to be embarrassed by seeing nude babies and pregnant women. Bodies are normal. Whatever.”

The playdate became less frequent after that.

You guys still with me?

Good.

That was about 15 or so years ago and I’m no less ‘progressive’ now. I was already sort of odd compared to my peers. My parents were hippies — like free-love and stuff and things (by ‘stuff’ I mean braless concerts and by ‘things’ I mean pot, lots of pot.) My parents never shamed my body, and though they failed in a lot of ways, I’ve never been uncomfortable with the human form. I’m an RN and for years I looked at vaginas for 12 hours a day. It’s a just a body.

We are skin and bones and muscle and fat and hair. No we are literally ALL just of that stuff differently configured.

I’m getting to the point. Hang in there.

Five years ago I had my fourth baby and 18 months after that, her brother. By the time I thought it would be a great idea to start a whole entire second family my older children were 10, 12, and 15. I thought I was done having babies so I never gave much thought as to how my older kids would (or would not) be involved in the pregnancy/labor/birth process. I became pregnant, and we just went with the flow.

We opted to homebirth and offered them the opportunity to be present — ⅔ of them decided that they weren’t that afraid of blood, and stayed to cheer me on (the other ⅓ was just in his room down the hall) My 10-year-old, Owen, was the first person to spot Ella’s head in the water and my 15-year-old, Kelsey, was the first person to hold her.

Here’s a video. Get a kleenex.

You’re welcome.

Anyway.

It just simply never occurred to me that any of this should have been hidden. And it begs the question, when did we start to think birth and death and life should be hidden? Who taught us that shame? Where did we learn to sexualize our bodies such that to see them is a forbidden and lustful act?

BRB need to go get a Master’s degree in anthropology with a focus on human sexuality.

As the babies grew and my big kids grew, we shuttled everyone around to sports things and band things and all the things teenagers do, and we brought the baby (and eventually babies). And I nursed uncovered at every event. And then I tandem nursed and basically my boobs were out, like completely OUT, for at least three solid years.

At more than one event, I was given the put your boob away, lady stink eye. And at more than one event one, or both, of my boys gave the stink eye right back. I didn’t have to tell them to defend their sister’s (and brother’s) right to eat. They just did it. We nursed at a gym, at a concert, at a Giants baseball game, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, on a ferry, on a beach, at a park.

I never said, “This is my right, and I’m going to do it.” I just did it. And none of them ever thought it wasn’t normal.

Because I never said it wasn’t.

Did my sons see my breasts and nipples? Yes, I’m sure they did. They also saw my vagina, because a baby came out of it and they were watching. And they see my face everyday and the top of my head too because my tallest son is 6’3”. And you know what? They are totally not even traumatized a little bit. Well, they may be a little traumatized by my face. It gets pretty cranky looking when they forget to take out the trash.

What did they learn from those experiences? Well, hopefully, they learned that human bodies are just that, bodies. We respect them and we revere them and we don’t shame them. Because they don’t deserve any of that.

This is where the change starts. With my kids and your kids and the kids who see us feeding our babies without embarrassment. Things become normalized one act a time.

I’ve given my kids the opportunity to see something I hope will serve them in their lives. My son’s partners will never have to be concerned that they won’t be supported. My daughters will know the normalcy that is child birthing and feeding and rearing.

Teenagers are easily embarrassed. And I guess I should have expected that mine would be too. But they just weren’t. Why not? I don’t know. Maybe it was the Anne Geddes book.

____________________

Not sure how to tell your kids about breastfeeding, here is an article with helpful tips. 

 ____________________

IMG_0670
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. 
You can follow Joni on Instagram here and on Twitter here.

 

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A 14 year old girl’s thoughts on breasts, breastfeeding, sex appeal, and society.

Reposting this article from last year, at a time when there is public outrage and debate about women posting photos online of themselves breastfeeding and arguments rage about how appropriate inappropriate it is to breastfeeding in public,  it seems timely to share the thoughts of a 14 year old girl on what messages she sees in the world of breasts, breastfeeding, sex appeal, and society. 
by Ophélia Martin-Weber
Photo credit Dorothea Lange, 1936 Library of Congress, American Memory

Photo credit Dorothea Lange, 1936 Library of Congress, American Memory

I wonder when people started treating boobs as objects used just for sex.  A long time ago did people respect moms and their breasts feeding hungry babies?  Even though they didn’t see women as equal did they know that breastfeeding was the healthiest, easiest, and natural source of nutrients to feed the baby and nothing to shun?  There was a time when women didn’t have the right to vote but could freely pull out their breast and feed their baby and today it seems like we have flipped those.  In some ways we have come so far in how women are treated and viewed in society but in other ways women, particularly mothers, are dismissed as their real value being only in their appeal to the opposite sex.  I wonder if we’ve lost something.  Then I wonder what that means for me and I’m only a 14 year old girl. When I was younger I didn’t know breasts had amazing powers to produce milk even though my mom breastfed my sisters and me.  All that I knew was that I had little boobies and I couldn’t wait for the day when my nipples would transform into breasts.  I don’t remember when the fact that mature breasts can give milk really stuck in my head but when it did I thought humans were related to cows.  Sure, humans and cows are both mammals but when I was a kid I thought maybe women actually were cows.  Today I know that’s not true and I also understand there is a lot of attention given to the sexiness of the female breast and that makes me uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable because now that I have breasts I find myself wanting smaller breasts in part because I’m a ballerina but also because I know that bigger breasts are supposed draw attention from guys, are seen as more sexy, and could decide how I am treated by others.  Part of me feels that if I want to be liked I have to have big breasts.  I want guys to notice me but I don’t want guys to notice me (yes, I know this is a contradiction) and I really don’t want them to think I’m just here to have sex with.  I’m just not ready for that and don’t know if I ever will be.  To me, I’m so much more than my sex appeal.  So I’m careful about what I wear, I don’t want communicate that I want attention based on sex but that frustrates me too.  The clothes I like the best and find most comfortable are more form fitting but if I wear yoga pants that fit my butt well will it be communicating that I want the wrong kind of attention?  Or in a leotard are my breasts speaking louder than my mind or my art?  I hope not.  I want to matter to others for more than just my body.  As a dancer, I work with my body a lot and I work hard to make it strong and healthy but not for attention.  That work is to help me tell stories, to use my body as an artist and an athlete.  Struggling with my body every day is part of my lot as a dancer and I have a love hate relationship with it and I’m ok with that.  What I don’t want is to question my natural biology simply because of how others say it should be.  Sometimes it feels as though society wants to punish those with female body parts yet tell us we’re equal without having to act like we really are.  I don’t get it, I understand that breasts are considered sex things but they don’t seem any more “sexy” than most of the other parts of my body such as my lips, my arms, my shoulders, my legs.  Men may find them sexy (is it that way in every culture or just ours?) but they aren’t sexy to me, they feed babies. Urban ballerina Looking back to what my childish mind was thinking and comparing it to some people’s opinions about moms openly breastfeeding in public, I wonder if they too see breastfeeding moms as cows?  Do breastfeeding mothers need to be fenced and herded together, separate from everyone else?  I know there are people that think about moms that way but not everyone does.  A lot of my adult friends have different opinions about breastfeeding but they don’t think poorly about my mom and they don’t ask her to cover when she’s feeding my little sister.  It doesn’t bother them that part of my mom’s breast is visible.  Pictures of beautiful and sexy women show off breasts at least as much as a mom’s breast is seen when she is breastfeeding.  In our culture, what is the most sexy part about women’s breasts?  The breast that is popping out of a too small shirt or the covered nipple?  Why?  If it’s the nipple, why is it such a big deal about breastfeeding in public if the baby is hiding the nipple?  Maybe it’s understandable because of the messages we get from certain parts of society, they might think it is sexual because a person’s mouth, even if it is a baby is on a woman’s breast but they need to get a grip and review their history lessons.   And also learn how breastfeeding works. Why is it ok for men to show off their mammary glands but women can’t?  Why aren’t women “allowed” to expose their chest as much as men can?  Why is it considered indecent for me to be topless by my neighbor across the street can walk around just in his shorts and nobody has a problem with it?  How is that equal?  How is that not discrimination?  Stop telling me I can be equal to my male counterparts but then tell me I have to hide my body more as if there is something wrong with me. I’m not sure I even want to have babies but if I do I will breastfeed them though I have to admit the idea of breastfeeding in public scares me because I know how people think of breasts, women, and moms.  That kind of attention isn’t what I want for myself.  I don’t know what I will do though because I know too much about breastfeeding to not breastfeed and I don’t think I’d want to just stay home all the time.  How sad is it that anyone would be afraid to feed their baby in public?  I’m a little disappointed in myself for feeling this way, I mean, my mom is The Leaky Boob, I feel like she’s the queen of breastfeeding.  But that’s where I am right now.  Fortunately, I have a long time to figure that out and I know I have a family that will support me along the way. If all this obsession with female breasts didn’t actually happen, what would life be like?  If we could change the attitudes against breastfeeding would we actually change attitudes about women?  I hope we can learn from our mistakes because I think people are being hurt by the accepted cultural attitudes of social norms.  And I’m still young, I have to have hope.

________________________________________

What do you think?  

Do you feel attitudes about breastfeeding are related in any way to our attitudes about women in general?  

How did you think about breasts, breastfeeding, and your own body when you were a teen?

________________________________________

Completely unrelated to this post, this video shares the author’s story of dance, her dance aspirations, and her current project.

________________________________________

teen ballerina Ophélia Martin-Weber is 15 years old, the eldest of six girls.  Ophélia is in 8th grade, homeschooled, and is passionate about dance.  A few years ago Ophélia wrote for The Leaky Boob, sharing her views as an 11 year old on breastfeeding and Jessica recently shared a proud mama moment about Ophélia.  You can see some of Ophélia’s dancing and hear her share her dance story and dreams in this video.
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Changing for the breast? A 14 year old shares her views on breasts, breastfeeding, sex appeal, and society.

by Ophélia Martin-Weber, see more about Ophélia here and support her efforts.
Photo credit Dorothea Lange, 1936 Library of Congress, American Memory

Photo credit Dorothea Lange, 1936 Library of Congress, American Memory

I wonder when people started treating boobs as objects used just for sex.  A long time ago did people respect moms and their breasts feeding hungry babies?  Even though they didn’t see women as equal did they know that breastfeeding was the healthiest, easiest, and natural source of nutrients to feed the baby and nothing to shun?  There was a time when women didn’t have the right to vote but could freely pull out their breast and feed their baby and today it seems like we have flipped those. (Though the voting thing is certainly a good thing, let’s not go back to no votes for women!) In some ways we have come so far in how women are treated and viewed in society but in other ways women, particularly mothers, are dismissed as their real value being only in their appeal to the opposite sex.  I wonder if we’ve lost something.  Then I wonder what that means for me and I’m only a 14 year old who loves to dance.

When I was younger I didn’t know breasts had amazing powers to produce milk even though my mom breastfed my sisters and me.  All that I knew was that I had little boobies and I couldn’t wait for the day when my nipples would transform into breasts.  I don’t remember when the fact that mature breasts can give milk really stuck in my head but when it did I thought humans were related to cows.  Sure, humans and cows are both mammals but when I was a kid I thought maybe women actually were cows.  Today I know that’s not true and I also understand there is a lot of attention given to the sexiness of the female breast and that makes me uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable because now that I have breasts I find myself wanting smaller breasts in part because of dance but also because I know that bigger breasts are supposed draw attention from guys, are seen as more sexy, and could decide how I am treated by others.  Part of me feels that if I want to be liked I have to have big breasts.  I want guys to notice me but I don’t want guys to notice me (yes, I know this is a contradiction) and I really don’t want them to think I’m just here to have sex with.  I’m just not ready for that and don’t know if I ever will be.  To me, I’m so much more than my sex appeal.  So I’m careful about what I wear, I don’t want communicate that I want attention based on sex but that frustrates me too.  The clothes I like the best are more form fitting but if I wear yoga pants that fit my butt well will it be communicating that I want the wrong kind of attention?  Or in a leotard are my breasts speaking louder than my mind or my art?  I hope not.  I want to matter to others for more than just my body.  As a dancer, I work with my body a lot and I work hard to make it strong and healthy but not for attention.  That work is to help me tell stories, to use my body as an artist and an athlete.  Struggling with my body every day is part of my lot as a dancer and I have a love hate relationship with it and I’m ok with that.  What I don’t want is to question my natural biology simply because of how others say it should be.  Sometimes it feels as though society wants to punish those with female body parts yet tell us we’re equal without having to act like we really are.  I don’t get it, I understand that breasts are considered sex things but they don’t seem any more “sexy” than most of the other parts of my body such as my lips, my arms, my shoulders, my legs.  Men may find them sexy (is it that way in every culture or just ours?) but they aren’t sexy to me, they feed babies.

The author, Ophélia Martin-Weber

The author, Ophélia Martin-Weber

Looking back to what my childish mind was thinking and comparing it to some people’s opinions about moms openly breastfeeding in public, I wonder if they too see breastfeeding moms as cows?  Do breastfeeding mothers need to be fenced and herded together, separate from everyone else?  I know there are people that think about moms that way but not everyone does.  A lot of my adult friends have different opinions about breastfeeding but they don’t think poorly about my mom and they don’t ask her to cover when she’s feeding my little sister.  It doesn’t bother them that part of my mom’s breast is visible.  Pictures of beautiful and sexy women show off breasts at least as much as a mom’s breast is seen when she is breastfeeding.  In our culture, what is the most sexy part about women’s breasts?  The breast that is popping out of a too small shirt or the covered nipple?  Why?  If it’s the nipple, why is it such a big deal about breastfeeding in public if the baby is hiding the nipple?  Understandable because of the messages we get from certain parts of society, they might think it is sexual because a person’s mouth, even if it is a baby is on a woman’s breast but they need to get a grip and review their history lessons.   And also learn how breastfeeding works.

And why is it ok for men to show off their mammary glands but women can’t?  Why aren’t women “allowed” to expose their chest as much as men can?  Why is it considered indecent for me to be topless by my neighbor across the street can walk around just in his shorts and nobody has a problem with it?  How is that equal?  How is that not discrimination?  Stop telling me I can be equal to my male counterparts but then tell me I have to hide my body more as if there is something wrong with me.

I’m not sure I even want to have babies but if I do I will breastfeed them though I have to admit the idea of breastfeeding in public scares me because I know how people think of breasts, women, and moms.  That kind of attention isn’t what I want for myself.  I don’t know what I will do though because I know too much about breastfeeding to not breastfeed and I don’t think I’d want to just stay home all the time.  How sad is it that anyone would be afraid to feed their baby in public?  I’m a little disappointed in myself for feeling this way, I mean, my mom is The Leaky Boob, I feel like she’s the queen of breastfeeding.  But that’s where I am right now.  Fortunately, I have a long time to figure that out and I know I have a family that will support me along the way.

If all this obsession with female breasts didn’t actually happen, what would life be like?  If we could change the attitudes against breastfeeding would we actually change attitudes about women?  I hope we can learn from our mistakes because I think people are being hurt by the accepted cultural attitudes of social norms.  And I’m still young, I have to have hope.

 

________________________________________

What do you think?  

Do you feel attitudes about breastfeeding are related in any way to our attitudes about women in general?  

How did you think about breasts, breastfeeding, and your own body when you were a teen?

________________________________________

Completely unrelated to this post, this video shares the author’s story of dance and her dance aspirations.

________________________________________

IMG_0404 Ophélia Martin-Weber is 14 years old, the eldest of six girls.  Ophélia is in 8th grade, homeschooled, and is   passionate about dance.  A few years ago Ophélia wrote for The Leaky Boob, sharing her views as an 11 year old on breastfeeding and Jessica recently shared a proud mama moment about Ophélia.  You can see some of Ophélia’s dancing and hear her share her dance story and dreams in this video.
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Fitness and Breastfeeding

by Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC

fitness, fit moms, fitness for moms, walking, breastfeeding and fitness

Moms can burn 500 calories a day while breastfeeding.  So that’s all you have to do, right?  Just breastfeed?  And the weight will all magically fall off and you will look like Giselle?

Breastfeeding can absolutely help you to lose weight, but many moms find that they need to embark on a plan of diet and exercise, too.  (And, just for good measure, please let me remind you not to begin a diet/exercise plan without consulting a medical professional and all that jazz.  Also, don’t rush into physical activity right after having a baby, take the time you need to really heal and adjust to having a new baby, pushing your body too soon could lead to further health issues.  Most moms find they need to wait at least 6 weeks, often closer to 12 weeks postpartum before they start exercising.)

BUT WAIT!  There are a lot of things that people talk about with diet and exercise and breastfeeding that make doing it seem…well, like maybe not the best idea.  So what’s the reality?  Can you safely breastfeed and lose weight?  Or exercise?

I am so glad that I just asked that for you.  The short answer is yes!  Of course!  But the long answer is addressed below, as we unmask three very common breastfeeding myths…

Myth #1You need to eat A LOT to make milk, and drink A LOT, too.

Ok, so here’s the deal.  When you are breastfeeding, you should eat to hunger and drink to thirst.  So, if you’re hungry?  Eat something.  If you’re thirsty?  Drink something.  You may find yourself ravenous, or you may find that your appetite has changed little.  Listen to your body’s cues.  There’s probably little to no need to shove extra food in your mouth or force yourself to drink excessive amounts.  In fact, over drinking water has been linked to a lowered supply.  You may find yourself thirstier, and if you genuinely feel that you need to drink, do it.  Just don’t force a specific amount down your throat in hopes that you will increase supply.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should rejoice and eat whatever, whenever.  Eating a mostly healthy and balanced diet is important.  Few of us are going to be able to eat perfectly all the time, though, especially with a new baby.  So I always tell my clients to continue to take a multivitamin, like their prenatal, throughout the breastfeeding relationship.  Moms probably need some extra Vitamin D, too.  (See this study for more information.)  Most moms can safely take 4000-6000 IUs a day.  This will not only help you, but can help to increase the Vitamin D in your breastmilk, too.  However, you should check with your doctor before increasing any dosages or starting any new vitamins.

Myth #2- You can’t cut calories while breastfeeding.

Not entirely true.  You probably should wait to diet until at least 6-8 weeks, and you shouldn’t go from eating, say, 2500 calories a day to 1500 overnight.  But as long as you have an established supply, decrease your calories slowly, and go no lower than 1500-1800 calories per day as appropriate for your body type, you can absolutely work on losing some weight.  1-2 pounds a week is a pretty safe range of loss, whether or not you are breastfeeding.

Some popular programs have developed breastfeeding options to help moms lose weight safely while breastfeeding.  Weight Watchers and My Fitness Pal both have breastfeeding options.

Myth #3Exercising while breastfeeding will make my supply lower/make my milk gross or sour!

Let’s talk about exercise decreasing supply, first.  If you are constantly working out to exhaustion (and you’re probably not.  I did P90X for about a month when I was in the third month of breastfeeding my daughter, and it didn’t fall into the exhaustive, supply-diminishing category,) yes, you may see some reduction in supply.  Regular, moderate exercise, however, might actually increase your production, although that’s not guaranteed.  Even high intensity exercise when it’s balanced well with adequate caloric intake, is fine and many mothers experience no trouble with high intensity work outs.

Raise your hand if you’ve heard that your baby won’t drink your milk if you have been exercising, because lactic acid will build up and sour your milk.  The entire premise for this was one study with a whole lot of issues. Further studies have not been able to replicate this, and have, instead, pretty clearly shown that babies don’t refuse the breast after exercising.  Anecdotal evidence, while not “official,” shows that many breastfeeding mothers experience quite the satisfied customer in their breastfed baby following even intense work outs.

One thing you do need to worry about while breastfeeding and exercising is wearing a supportive bra that isn’t too tight.  Some sports bras can be really, really binding.  You want to avoid that, obviously, to keep from having issues with plugged ducts and the like.

_____________________________________

Have you heard any other breastfeeding and fitness myths?  Did you lose weight or become more fit while nursing?  Let us know in the comments!

 

 Star Rodriguiz, IBCLC, began her career helping women breastfeed as a breastfeeding peer counselor for a WIC in the Midwest.  Today she is a hospital based lactation consultant who also does private practice work through Lactastic Services.  She recently moved to the northern US with her two daughters and they are learning to cope with early October snowfalls (her Facebook page is here, go “like” for great support). 
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Boobs- Function and Pleasure

My life is all about breasts, it seems.  I am an IBCLC, and I spend at least 32 hours a week providing breastfeeding services to moms.  I am also a nursing mother – my nursling and I are going on 18 months right now.  And then there’s the flip side of my breasts.  My second job, you see, is modeling for a boudoir and fashion photo company, Red Petti.  This means that I regularly spend a few hours a month getting dolled up and photographed in lingerie for campaigns.  My breasts are very functional and very attractive all in one.

The dual nature of the human breast is one that we have a really, really hard time with in most Westernized countries.  Breastfeeding moms are asked to cover up or kicked out of various places, yet we use bikini clad models to sell any number of things.  With the vastly sexualized nature of the breast, is it any wonder that I have client after client who is concerned that nursing will feel sexual to her, or that she won’t be able to still be attractive if she’s nursing?

Sometimes I hear the advice of “Just retire the sexy for a little while, because you only nurse a short time in the grand scheme of things.”  And this is true.  You do only nurse for a little while.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use your breasts for sexiness and functional purposes.  After all, let’s face it – your sexuality is why you have a baby, in most cases.  Babies don’t end that, or no one would have more than one.

So understand that breastfeeding is not sexual, although it can be very sensual (and by sensual I mean that it engages your senses, and the flood of hormones can make you feel very relaxed and happy.) The contact with the breast in breastfeeding is very different than sexual contact, so it is not an arousing experience for most women. There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about in using your breasts in feeding your child – it is their primary biological function. And if that biological function doesn’t come easily, don’t feel like a failure – see a trained lactation professional to help you learn. Most trained lactation professionals can give you some advice or referrals if you’re having a difficult time with sexual behavior while nursing, as well.

On the flip side, just because you have become a mom doesn’t mean that you are no longer fabulous or sexy or desirable.  That doesn’t end the second you have the baby, although it’s easy to forget that.  It may take you awhile to lose the pregnancy weight (although breastfeeding may help!) and you may have a few stretch marks or some loose skin, but so what?  You are magnificent and gorgeous.  And while you’re nursing, you may even have a fuller, more voluptuous chest.  Enjoy it while it’s around.

Audre Lorde once said, “I can’t really define it in sexual terms alone although our sexuality is so energizing why not enjoy it too?”  She wasn’t talking about the breast, but it works for that, too.  Sexuality doesn’t define our breasts – if anything, the nurturing act of breastfeeding inherently does.  But it’s ok for your breasts to have dual roles, and you can and should enjoy them both.

 

 

 Star is an IBCLC and breastfeeding peer counselor for a WIC in the Midwest.  Star also supports breastfeeding locally by sitting on the  breastfeeding task force in her town.  She is helping her  community’s Early Head Start redefine  their breastfeeding support, and is the  driving force behind a local breastfeeding campaign.  In  the remainder of her free  time, she chases around her nursling and preschooler.
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