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Maternity Montage: On Breasts

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years (!), So we’ve decided to highlight one of the most popular entries from the past every now and then. Here’s one of our favorites, originally released on August 8th, 2011.

That might be a little intimate, but let’s talk about boobs! After the jump, of course …

I’ve always been a fairly humble person (in gym class, I was one of the girls who changed in the bathroom), but now that I’ve had a baby, I’m much more open to certain parts of the body: namely, breasts. They just seem so functional and commonplace to me now. So if you are a game I would love to talk about all things that are chesty.

Seven things that surprised me while breastfeeding:

1. Breastfeeding burns a whopping 500 calories a day! I was really surprised to hear that. Even if you sit completely still all day, you are burning as many calories as if you were running five miles. Needless to say, you get hungry like the wolf. I remember drinking an average of four glasses of whole milk every day and eating a whole tuna pasta salad once in the middle of the night. The next morning my mother, who was visiting, said: “Where’s the pasta salad?” I was like … .In. My. Belly.

2. You become predominantly thirsty. As soon as I started feeding Toby, a wave of thirst hit me like a Mack truck. I could only think: “Water, water, water …” until I gulped down a huge glass. Alex actually bought me a giant water bottle and frankly it was one of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received.

3. You can squirt milk around the room. (Is that TMI?) Before I had a baby, I imagined that a nipple would work like a single straw, but actually they’re more like that kitchen faucet. Milk sprays out a few tiny holes, and if you squeeze your chest you can squirt milk across the room! It would be a great party trick if it were the least socially acceptable.

4. Nursing bras can be sexy. I dragged my feet when I bought a nursing bra thinking I was going to be wearing a terrible feature number for the next twelve months. But! I was thrilled to discover Elle MacPherson nursing bras. They’re soft and pretty, and I love the way the black lace peeps out from under tank tops and cardigans.

5. Babies are overjoyed with milk. It’s so, so, so delightful how much babies love milk. Toby would be so excited before feeding; He would rummage around and try to find the breast. He would frantically move his tiny head like, where is it, where is it … he would find his fist and suck like crazy … and then say, oh, wait, it’s not … where is it … yes here it is !!!! And his eyes would basically roll back in his head, he was so happy. (And then he would get his drunken sailor face 🙂

6. You can literally feel drained afterwards. Sometimes I would stumble out of the nursery after giving Toby his bedliner and say to Alex, “I feel like the energy was just really being sucked out of me.” It can be exhausting. I mean you’re making a baby fat. Of course, it can be wonderful, cozy, and profound at the same time.

7. You get big breasts! A little embarrassing, but one of my favorite parts of pregnancy / breastfeeding was finally experiencing bigger breasts. I’ve always been a flat-chested girl (I even wore these chicken schnitzel at my wedding), and I was long curious what it would be like to have big breasts for even a day. Well, when I was pregnant my breasts kept growing and when Toby was born and I started breastfeeding they felt HUGE (at least to me). It was a thrill to have big breasts for the first time, including cleavage! (Here are my small breasts; here are my large breasts 🙂 Of course, now that Toby has stopped breastfeeding, my breasts have shrunk to their pre-baby size. But I will never forget my one glorious, well-endowed year.

Toby ate lunch in our hospital room when he was one day old.

Finally, the breastfeeding book I swear by: Some of my best friends found breastfeeding very difficult at first (one even said it was harder than labor, ouch!). I was very grateful that breastfeeding was relatively easy for me, and in addition to biology and luck, I owe The Nursing Mother’s Companion for making breastfeeding easier. In a straightforward, calming tone, the book shows you how to help your baby hold on properly and overcome obstacles. My friend Samantha gave me her dog-ear copy before Toby was born, and I’m so grateful that she did. I highly recommend it to all expectant mothers who want to breastfeed. (And good luck to you! I know everyone has a different experience.)

I’m so curious: what is your experience of breastfeeding? Did you breastfeed or did you not decide? How were those early days for you? (I’m so amazed at mothers who dealt with sore breasts on top of everything else in the new motherhood! What heroes!) What surprised you? I would like to hear …

PS Breastfeeding in Public.

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