Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mammary Mayhem

I've always thought of boobs as funny, frivolous appendages. Sure, they are sexy when they are pushed up in a bra and nipples can be pretty cool too, but they always seem to get in the way and it costs a lot of money to keep the ta-tas securely fastened to your body.

Throughout my pregnancy my boobs have become a huge pain in the ass. It wasn't long before all of my bras were too small, so I had to venture out an get a few maternity bras. I ended up getting nursing bras to try and save some money since I would need them post-partum. The two bras I got have a little snap so all it takes is one click and voila! you have a boob in your face! In case you didn't know, most boobs do some crazy stuff during pregnancy--they grow in size (which of course my husband thought was awesome), your milk ducts start to form, the areolas grow and the nipples darken.

In my opinion pregnancy boobs look pretty weird, last night I told my hubby I had monkey boobs (he still doesn't understand what that means, but whatever).  Despite my disdain for my prego boobs, it's important to note that pregnancy boobs are preparing for a huge task: feeding your little one. Now, I know that not all women want to or are able to breastfeed and that is totally cool (there is a great piece on Offbeat Mama about one woman's struggle to breastfeed). To me, all things reproductive are about choice and I choose to breastfeed. The more I read about breastfeeding, the more fascinated I become with what I once saw as a silly, mostly sexual part of my body.

Some Super Cool Mammary Milk Facts*:
  • breast milk is tailored to the needs of human infants and contains over 100 ingredients not found in cow's milk and that can't be synthesized in a lab
  • the composition of breast milk changes to meet the baby's needs--it is different in the morning versus the afternoon and is also calorie controlled.  Milk at the beginning of a feeding is less caloric that the milk at the end of the feeding, which signals to the baby when to stop feeding.
  • because of the changing composition, breastfed babies are often less chubby than formula fed babies. (although I love a chubby baby with some cute leg rolls)
  • breastfed babies get a good dose of antibodies that help prevent infections such as urinary tract infections, colds and ear infections.
Again, despite these cool facts, some women choose not to breastfeed or simply are unable to despite their best efforts.  As Trista so eloquently put in her piece about coping with not being able to breastfeed "I had many moments where I felt extreme amounts of guilt, but then I learned that breastfeeding did not equal perfection — nor did it equal motherhood."  Whether or not we can or cannot, or choose or choose not to breastfeed, it is still quite amazing to learn about the ways our bodies almost instinctively do amazing things like produce calorie-controlled milk for our offspring.  Evolution is so cool.

Another reason women don't breastfeed is due to lack of support from their health care provider or the lack of follow-up care once a woman has left the hospital.  Or--women who have to return to work may not have the resources necessary to take breaks to pump, and don't have a private place to do the pumping .
This is where we can step in and advocate for women who choose to breastfeed: ask your Member of Congress to co-sponsor the Breastfeeding Promotion Act today. 

"The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 (HR 2758) would dramatically help expand breastfeeding by giving all mothers who want to breastfeed unpaid time and private, clean spaces to express milk at work.  If passed, the bill would also protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace.[3] As part of the Affordable Care Act, exempt workers (generally those paid hourly) now are provided this support at work but the new rules only cover approximately half of new mothers in the workforce.[4] 
We need uniform workplace policies to support all of the 56% of new mothers who are in the paid labor force.[5]  Without support in workplaces, breastfeeding rates drop significantly during the time when most women return to work.  While 3 out of 4 women in the U.S. breastfeed their infants at birth, only 13% are exclusively breastfeeding at six months as recommended by every major national and international medical authority.[6]  In fact, breastfeeding rates for employed mothers are 15% lower than among non-employed mothers.[7] "

So there's my two-cents on the very divisive issue of breastfeeding.  Like I said, I am all about women choosing to do it or not--and women can of course make better decisions when they are better informed and have little to no barriers.  I just hope that my funny monkey boobs will produce enough milk and that I am barrier free and able to breastfeed poppy when he/she comes into this world.

*breast milk facts taken from "What to Expect the First Year"

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful, thanks for sharing the joyous discomforts of becoming a mother. Being a woman who has always looked forward to motherhood, I’m intrigued and often surprised when I learn about the little things I will expect when I eventually conceive. Thanks for being so open and honest with your journey, Sam, much love!