Knowing that my baby won’t be inside me much longer, I’m both wistful and… delighted. I’ll miss the magic of feeling him moving around within me, but I will also have my body back. I mean, my body will be just mine again. When something feels weird, I won’t wonder if it’s a problem and if it applies to both my baby and myself. In time (hopefully not too much time), I will get to wear real clothes again (I am seriously tired of these yoga pants… I was practically licking the J.Crew catalog that showed up the other day). I will get to work out, and bend in every which way, and sleep on my back!
Considering breastfeeding, at the beginning of my pregnancy, at first yielded a definite “no” from me. I know it can be tough at first as both baby and mama figure out how all of the machinery works. I’ve also heard it can be painful. And, new babies eat every two hours! After nine (plus) months of hormones and handing my body over to a grueling (and also fun) natural process, I was sure I’d be ready for physical independence by pregnancy’s end.
And I am. But I’m going to give breastfeeding a shot nonetheless. I'm aware of the challenges it can entail, and that I’ll be held somewhat hostage by the nutritional needs of my baby. I’m not a breastfeeding zealot— clearly there are options out there that meet the wide variety of babies' and parents' needs— but I figure that since I’ll be at home focusing on the baby for at least three months anyway, I’ll try it out. I’ve heard of very positive breastfeeding experiences, and the upsides are appealing. Breast milk is free, easily accessible, and nutritionally complete. Sure, I won’t be able to dive right into eating sushi four times weekly, and my boobs will be heavy, and behave in new and alarming ways (leakage?), but I’m game. I do plan to get a pump after a little while so that Aaron can take part in feedings, and so that I’m equipped to head back to work when the time comes.
I’m confident that youth and good genes (as well as longstanding healthy habits) will deliver me into my preferred wardrobe once again. I’m excited to exercise, and bend, and eat sushi. I’ve heard that boobs are never quite the same after pregnancy (whether or not they’ve provided food service); I’m hoping mine are still stellar after this is all said and done… at least through my 20’s (please, boobies, play nice)! But I’ve also realized that I’m never going to be totally autonomous again; I’m going to be a mom. Whether my baby needs me to feed him every two hours, or needs me to assuage his fears of the dark or support him in chasing his dreams, he’s going to need me, and I’m going to consider him (as I do my husband) in all of my decisions.
My decision to at least try breastfeeding is not about saying my body doesn’t belong to me anymore or something. Of course my body is mine (and if breastfeeding doesn’t work, or just makes me miserable, I will switch to formula). But this decision does represent a shift in my understanding of myself in relation to other people. My relationship with my child is significantly physical right now. While I may not be able to bend very far in any direction at the moment, I have become dramatically more flexible in other ways.
Did you breast feed? Did you choose not to? How has pregnancy, and parenting, changed your feelings about, and relationship to, your own body? And, um, does anyone still have great boobs?