Dear Male Readers–Especially My Dad–And People I Work With, Please Don’t Read This

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I wasn’t really going to write this post, until I read Stephanie’s post today at Adventures in Babywearing. And then I thought, hey, maybe someone would relate and say, “I am SO glad someone else on earth feels that way!”

I struggle each day with liking my body.

I’m sure that’s not news to anyone, nor is it specific to me. But the way I feel about my body has taken on new spectrums since I had Libbie.

‘Cause when you look like this:

libbieinthebelly

… and suddenly deflate when the baby exits, your body takes on a whole new shape. Add breastfeeding to that, and you’re not sure you recognize yourself anymore.

My biggest struggle is with my breasts. There, I said it. Every day, I hate them.

I was a DD to begin with. Then I got pregnant. And they grew. And then I started nursing. And they grew.

None of my old tops fit. In fact, I still wear some maternity things on top because I think the nursing breasts balance out the baby belly that was there! (Don’t tell Clinton and Stacy.)

I hate that I have headlights like a Ford that even these covers cannot hide. I hate that I feel unbalanced, that my only button-down shirt is huge in the waist because otherwise it gaps, and that shirts that are completely modest somehow become cleavage city on me.

But then, these breasts are nourishing my daughter. Boosting her immune system. I love breastfeeding, I love the sweet time with her, her little gulps, her smiles afterward. They’re not just a part of my body anymore–they have a PURPOSE.

And so every day, I tell myself it’s OK. Some day I will stop nursing and they’ll go back to normal (of course, I fear this will be the same time I decide to get pregnant again, and the cycle will continue). I am so blessed that nursing has been super easy for us.

The Girls have done me well. Which is why I feel bad about hating them. A daily struggle.

Have you made peace with The Girls? Your stretch marks? Please tell me.

17 thoughts on “Dear Male Readers–Especially My Dad–And People I Work With, Please Don’t Read This

  1. Oh, where to begin? I do keep telling myself and needing the reminder that after I am done nursing, things will be different. I am not the Mom that loses a ton of weight while nursing. I actually KEEP IT ON until weaning. And yes. It's worth it.

    I know this couldn't have been easy to write. You are inspiring.

    Just minutes ago I was getting dressed for the day in something that hides my many imperfections (what *I* see as imperfections.)

    What I am jealous of is when women are so confident in their size or curves or thin-ness (yes, some struggle with being too skinny!) and they just work it. I need to work it.

    You work it too, girl. : )

    Steph

  2. I liked that I was bigger during nursing because I don't have much up top. LOL I wish I could take the extra from my hips and move it up. Or just get rid of the extra. That'd be okay too. Unfortunately the 10 pound first baby stretched the skin farther than it will retreat.

  3. I think what's hardest for me is letting my husband love my body the way it is. I am extremely lucky that I have a loving and supportive husband. I am the one that needs to let go of MY insecurities enough to be loved.

  4. I hate my breasts too. I was just complaining to Hubby about them the other day. Complaining about how they are huge and there is nothing I can do to hide them. Yes, they have a purpose – to feed my most precious daughter and I would not give that up for anything. Not anything at all. I (maybe like Steph – oh please oh please let it be nursing's fault) still have not lost all of my pregnancy weight (and she is nine months old) and am beating myself up for that too. I am trying to lose it (must not be trying hard enough since I still have 12.5 pounds to go). And I hate that too.
    Stretch marks are less of an issue for me – I had them already from being REALLY overweight before I got pregnant. See I was really overweight, lost 67 pounds and then got pregnant. So, the stretch marks (while I hate them too) are not baby related and I have already come to terms with them.

    Great post!!!

  5. Found you through @babysteph. I totally feel you on this post. I never had "big" Girls before, but now that I nurse I am like "whoa." I didn't realize how hard it is to find shirts that fit/swimsuits/pretty much everything.

    I agree with Steph, I want to be confident and comfortable in my own skin. No matter where I am at. And I think you writing this post, is the first step towards that. We need to be able to face reality. 🙂 Thanks for reminding me of that!

  6. Well, I've never nursed a baby, so I can't help you with that. My stretch marks were terrible, still are, sorta, but I had reduction surgery and that took alot of my marks away. All I can say is I am so glad I had the surgery before I had children. With my mind set about "the girls", I would not have wanted to breast feed, it would have been terrible for me.

    But I know exactly how you feel. Did you ever read my post http://boutcrazy.blogspot.com/2009/04/sharingmy-past.html where I shared some of my experiences?

    It's a hard topic to talk about and I'm proud of you for putting it out there.

  7. I must admit that I feel the same way. Something I didn't realize is that you will be wearing your maternity clothes post baby, for a while. I would say that has to be true for like 95% of moms. People like Heidi Klum who go back to prepregnancy within a month of giving birth are the exception to the rule, not to mention she is under contract and it is her JOB to lose the weight.
    As far as stretch marks, mine are really bad, we are talking looks like ground beef in the package kind of bad. My obgyn said it is probably some of the worst he has seen. I am not a vain person and I never thought I would want to undergo any kind of plastic surgery, but I think a tummy tuck is in order some day in the future!

  8. Girl, I am so there too. She's almost 5 months, and it's still a struggle for me too. Wasn't this body image thing supposed to be over after high school? Thanks for being candid!

  9. Love this post! I started out as a B cup with my first pregnancy and grew with each one! Yikes. So, am now a D cup and not happy with the girls at all! What do you do though?

  10. Jessie, I feel your pain. I hate (HATE!) my body. To be more specific, I hate what I have let my body become by not taking care of it. I could exercise and eat well, but I don't. I want to, but I don't. And so I get bigger and even more out of shape. And I just hate it.

    Regarding your specific issue, I don't have that one. Because Annalyn was born so early, I wasn't able to breastfeed. So my medium at best breasts never even got the chance at that growth spurt.

    I don't have an answer for you or helpful hints for making peace with your least favorite parts. I struggle with it every single waking minute.

    But I will say that I think you're brave to talk about this. 🙂

  11. I seem to be a bit further in my parenting journey than several of the commenters… My son is five years old and my daughter is three and a half. She just weaned a couple months ago, my son weaned on his fourth birthday. So, I nursed for almost five years straight!

    This last year as my kids both weaned (gradually), I've let some weight creep back on. 🙁 Its easy when you've been nursing/tandem nursing for years and have gotten used to being able to eat so much more! Now that I don't have that calorie draw every day, I gained back some of the weight.

    I struggled with an eating disorder in college, and having children helped me recover like nothing else. Knowing that I was providing nourishment for my kids (during pregnancy and breastfeeding) made me treat my body responsibly. Now that I don't have that, things are more difficult. I'm trying to loose weight responsibly right now and its hard! – its easy for me to loose weight irresponsibly!

    Looking at the website The Shape of a Mother has helped me a lot. I'm quite pleasantly surprised at how my breasts have hardly changed at all, even after years of nursing. The skin on my tummy, however, will never be smooth and taut again. (Oh how I regret not piercing my belly button when I had a gorgeous belly!) My stretch marks have faded and are hardly noticeable now. I do tend to put weight on in the stomach area more readily than I did pre-kids, though. There are changes… but somehow it doesn't seem so bad, because I've changed on the inside, too. Does that make sense?

  12. I feel your pain. Before I was pregnant I was already a 34G. Breastfeeding enlarged me to a J cup. I actually had to stop feeding my daughter after about three months, but the girls didn't really go down. Now a few months later they have returned to a G cup, but I really wish they were smaller.

    I miss the days when they were a C, and I could wear anything I wanted to. I don't think I've owned a button up shirt in over four years now.

  13. Jessie I love your blog! You always write exactly what I'm thinking!

    Plus I am eager to try your latest recipe, as I am also quite the sturdy German girl with former long-german-last-name. Fortunately I have converted DH to sauerkraut!

  14. I pretty much hate mine everyday too… but for WAY different reasons. They didn't work when it came to nursing & they are ugly. I mean I think I could deal with their just being small, but ugly & disfunctional– that's just crappy!

    I'm not handling my post 2 kid body well at all. I really just want to wear one of those Slanket/Snuggie things every single day.

  15. My petite breast are pretty much non existent after breastfeeding. It doesn't help that I lost an extra 10 lbs from my pre-baby weight during BFing. I try not to look in the mirror for too long, it's depressing how much I look like a boy. But, like you said, they served me (and my son) well.

  16. Saw this post in your sidebar and had to comment. It's been nearly a year since I had my son, and I still uncomfortable with my body. I gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy, and I got a LOT of stretchmarks. I loved my pregnancy chest! For the first time in my life I actually had boobs. Nine months after my son was born I lost the perky breasts and now they're worse off than before. I guess you never miss it until it's gone! Wear those maternity tops for me!!

  17. so many emotions reading this…first thought is – we need to stop looking at the minority as the "ideal" and love ourselves the way we are. second thought is – i had a breast reduction 10 years ago and it was seriously one of the best decisions i've ever made. many people are probably thinking, um, those are conflicting thoughts. and maybe they are. for me, my breasts were DD, i was thin so it wasn't like they were going to get smaller from exercise/changing my eating. i was single, no kids at the time and just really wanted to be able to buy a dress that actually fit rather than buying separates or buying a dress to fit my chest which didn't fit anywhere else. i also wanted to wear a swimsuit without feeling obscene and wanted to be able to exercise without having to use military-issued bras to keep the girls in check.

    a girlfriend breastfeed each of her three kids for a year and hated her large, saggy chest afterward. we talked for several years and she ultimately decided to have a reduction as well. she looks great and most importantly, feels so much better.

    so…i'm a big fan of breast reductions if you're really not able to reduce their size by losing weight, etc. i'm also a HUGE fan of learning to let go of ideas of perfection which is why i haven't had a nose job. 😀

    best wishes in your journey and remember that you're setting an example for your kiddos of how they should view themselves and their bodies. that really changed my perspective a lot when my daughter was born.

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