Breastfeeding Body Confidence Essay – Motherly

An almost universal experience among women is that our relationships with our bodies are complicated. We are in demand. We are ashamed. We are immodest. We are too humble. These mixed messages start early and continue throughout life. But for me it wasn’t until I started breastfeeding that I got a feel for it control about the use and purpose of my body.

When I was 14, I started to look at my body differently. That was the first time a much older man had howled at me – and I suddenly felt very insecure. But also, I was embarrassed that my body could attract such unwarranted attention. Shame crept in because it was like that my Body that made this man react. Because of how I looked, I was mocked and felt less than.

For many of us, our relationship with our teenage bodies can become more complex. Many young women quietly compare their physical characteristics, especially their breasts. We were taught to be thin and have big breasts and wide hips necessary. Why? Because men wanted to.

In addition to acquiring jealous looks, a girl also acquires increased levels of physical insecurity when her body changes. I had to choose my clothes deliberately so as not to show “too much”. Otherwise, as society has taught us, I “asked” about cat calls, objectification and looks. I quickly learned that it wasn’t just my body that was attracting this unwanted attention. Most women, regardless of their shape or size, have felt unsafe simply because they are women.

Breastfeeding made me confront my relationship with my body

When I first started breastfeeding, the shame I felt for my body was a bit overwhelming. For the first few days in the hospital, it seemed like everyone had one look at my naked body and bluntly grabbed and touched me (while I was utterly embarrassed). Nurses and doctors poked and nudged me to make sure everything was okay. The lactation consultant, nurses, and family members grabbed and looked at my breasts to help me as I learned to feed my new life.

I understood in my head that everyone was there to help me. I have understood. And yet I felt waves of disgust. When we discussed this with my doctor, we discussed that it could possibly be a sign of D-MER and she told me to keep monitoring the feelings for the next few weeks.

What I discovered in tracking my experience was that I didn’t have a D-MER, but I was ashamed. Shame on my body. This area of ​​my body that I had been conditioned to believe was supposed to be hiding or displaying, depending on the surroundings, now attracted constant attention. The very breasts that I was trying to hide or cover up to be “humble” were now constantly eager to either feed or heal after feeding. I noticed that just looking at her made me feel so uncomfortable.

But while that didn’t change overnight, my feelings have evolved over the last few weeks of breastfeeding. I now have a sense of victory when I breastfeed. I’m sure oxytocin is part of it – yet I believe something bigger has shifted emotionally, not just chemically.

My little guy regards my body as a source of life, nourishment and comfort. If he gets upset or cries, my gentle rocking comforts him immediately. He leans on me during tummy time to learn how to build his muscles. The warmth of my body makes him fall asleep at night. And when I breastfeed him, he will be fed and nourished. With this body alone, I am able to take care of life.

What once made me feel like a girl now makes me feel like a woman. What once paralyzed me now strengthens me. What once embarrassed me now makes me feel A mother.

I used to be embarrassed by how objectified my body was. Even if I were all alone with him, I would still feel that discomfort, like someone out there watching creepily. But that this little man watches my body and sees it not as something that warrants a whistle or howl, but as something that sustains and nourishes it, has changed everything. Everything.

What once made me feel like a girl now makes me feel like a woman. What once paralyzed me now strengthens me. What once embarrassed me now makes me feel A mother.

The issue of breastfeeding alone is associated with a litany of unjustified advice, demands, insults and discouragement. A mother is reprimanded for using baby food. Not to use a formula. For pumping. For not pumping enough. For weaning. For breastfeeding past a certain age. I’ve listened to my friends struggling not to produce enough and trying different means to increase their supply to feed their child. I’ve listened to other women dealing with the pain of blocked milk, but permeating the pain because they know their child is full.

Ultimately, I’ve seen women hug their bodies for something, for someone bigger than what society has reduced the female body to. Voices have tried to tell us what our breasts should look like and how they should be used. But this time, for the first time in my life, those voices become white noise as I sing my son to sleep while he uses my breasts as a pillow. And it feels great.

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