Getting the baps out: a boob journey into breastfeeding

When I took my bra down from the airer yesterday, it looked more parachute than lacy object of sexual interest.

It’s scarcely believable that I use to envy the other girls in my class their new lady lumps. Or that I would play with my mum’s bras, stuff them and preen in front of the mirror.

I was a late developer. When I started wearing a bra, I didn’t really need one. I just wanted to stop being called “chicken chest”. I even prayed that God would give me breasts. And He did. And He took the blessings overflowing thing a little far.

By the time I was 16, I was getting backaches from the orbs of doom. By 18 I had to hold them if I was going upstairs bra-less. When I finally got a decent fitting at Bravissimo I found out that I was 30FF. Well, blow me down.

Over the past five years, getting to grips with how to dress my figure, wearing bras that fit and generally outgrowing my adolescent lack of self-esteem, the big boobs have been ok.

I don’t know that I’d say I’ve embraced them. They’re still uncomfortable, the bras that fit them are expensive and they sometimes get more attention than I do.

I thought about them a lot when I found out I was pregnant. Firstly, because they often felt like they were on fire but also because I thought: “Can I possibly get bigger?” Friends reckoned I wouldn’t. I did. And, though nighttime requires a little more organisation, that’s been ok too.

Knowing that new things are happening inside them for a purpose has actually been pretty gratifying. The prospect of breastfeeding is both exciting and a little scary. Suddenly these baps aren’t just about me.

We went to the last bit of our NCT antenatal course last night, the breastfeeding session. I’m taking a double-hit of breastness this week because that’s what my NHS antenatal course is covering tomorrow (oh yes, I’m doing it all).

It’s something we both want for our baby but we’re also aware that it can go wrong. I don’t have any friends who’s been able to stick with it though they’ve wanted to. And I did find it a little difficult that the session didn’t have a look at what can go wrong.

But then again, maybe it’s better not to focus on those things because for some people it’s absolutely fine. It’s just that I keep hearing that big-boobed women sometimes have difficulty getting it all sorted in a non-awkward way.

When the question of whether size matters came up, it was quickly dismissed with something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter how small you are.” I know I should have asked: “But what about the opposite?” but I didn’t.

I’m hoping instead that I can put aside my worries about it and let things happen naturally, then address any issues that might come up when or if they do. This’ll be something the creature and I will learn together.

Image: Beatrice Murch


24 Comments

  1. Lucy
    May 17, 2011 / 5:10 pm

     You’ll be so fine – I read in a book somewhere about giving it 40 days (so Lenten) and it’s true – Atticus is six weeks old today and I finally feel as if I’m getting the hang of it! 

    • May 17, 2011 / 7:34 pm

      Yes, I keep hearing give it six weeks. Glad it’s working out with the little man!

  2. May 17, 2011 / 6:51 pm

    As a big boobed woman I’d have to agree that smaller is much easier for getting them out when you’re out of the house – they need much more handling :). But you will figure it out. And you probably won’t go far in the first few weeks anyway. My big tip is to learn to feed lying down, which makes night feeds really restful. Oh and engorgement can be both hilarious and distressing when you are already melon woman (a little hand expressing goes a long way if the baby is just bouncing off – you can express into a little feeding cup and feed the baby with it, or use a plastic syringe to get some milk into little one before the roof comes off the house with the screaming). For added fun engorgement often coincides with the hormone crash where you can’t stop crying. Oh I can laugh about it now… An amazing site for bf resources is kellymom.com. You’ll find a way.

    • May 17, 2011 / 7:33 pm

      All vey good advice, Joanne! And good to know that if there is difficulty, there’s humour in it later!

  3. May 18, 2011 / 12:01 pm

     I managed for nine months. It was challenging, particularly when engorged. Lying down feeding, as Joanne suggested was definitely god-send but I could only manage it from about 4 months as I think she was a bit too small.
    I might add, I also managed to keep going through 2 bouts of mastitis (not nice) cracked sore nipples (part and parcel)….you’ll managed it I’m sure. I second the kellymom website.

    Oh and I found tommee tippee (sp?) and lansinoh breast pads best.

    • May 18, 2011 / 5:32 pm

      Good to know that you managed to soldier through! I’ve had a look at that website now. It looks brilliant. Thanks for all the suggestions. x 

  4. May 18, 2011 / 2:29 pm

    Another big boobed woman here and yes they definitely got bigger (but they will go down when you finish breastfeeding)

    You sound like you’re getting lots of support in place and it’ll be key to getting you through

    If I can help at all, drop me a line, I’m a trained mother supporter and hopefully can help (even if its only to tell you to eat more cake) 

    • May 18, 2011 / 5:32 pm

      If that’s the kind of advice you’re dishing out, I’ll definitely get in touch! I’m looking forward to learning and I’ve pretty much got the mindset of being patient and kind with myself and just giving it time. Hopefully my husband can remind me of this if I’m stressed postpartum! 

  5. May 19, 2011 / 7:03 am

    Hi,
    I had all of the same questions re breastfeeding and also attended a breastfeeding session with NCT. I completely agree that unfortunately the session seemed to just focus on the positives and how it will work which I found for me did mean I wasn’t prepared for some of the ‘challenges’. However, I stuck with it and have now been feeding Mabel exclusively for 4 months. My best bit of advice would be – it can be tough, it is definitely tiring but it is 100% worth it in so many ways. However, if it doesn’t work for you then it isn’t worth doing at all costs. I had friends who just didn’t get the support they needed to actually stop when it wasn’t working!
    Huge good luck and feel free to drop me a message when you are having a ‘sore nipple’ moment,
    Nelly xxx

    • May 23, 2011 / 10:19 am

      Glad you were able to stick with it! Thankfully it sounds like there’s quite a lot of support here in Bristol (at least in my bit of it). Thanks also for offering your support! 

  6. May 20, 2011 / 8:45 am

    Well snap!  I’m normally an EE, but when feeding I’m a G and sometimes bigger…  I didn’t have any problems feeding either my first or my twins and I’m hoping to be able to feed this one too.  My top tips?

    Anita feeding bras – get them from Figleaves. Blooming expensive but they are (oh, happy day!) underwired, so you don’t end up with a soggy tummy… (and don’t believe anyone who says you can’t wear an underwired bra when feeding, as long as it fits properly – and Rigby and Peller will fit you into an Anita bra and you can then buy it on Figleaves where it’s cheaper – you’re fine)
    Breast feeding clothes (google them, but Mamaway are good and not too expensive) make feeding in public not only possible but pleasurable.  With my first I spent a lot of time in cafes eating the cake Muddling along recommends, with a baby latched on…  Not so easy with two (which is inevitably more graphic) but definitely to be enjoyed with one.
    If you get mastitis, take the antibiotics.  Pah to cabbage leaves and natural remedies.  Just get rid of the b*gger as quickly as you can.
    And don’t sweat it. I think this is one of those things that we forget we are (mostly) designed to do.  If you think about it too much you’ll overcomplicate it. It’s what you want and what your baby wants and if you just go with it you will get there.  That said of course, if you are finding it tricky there is lots and lots of support out there, and if you do find you can’t do it at all, which some people can’t, that’s just one of those things. It doesn’t say anything about you, your baby, or the state of the world economy.  There are much more important things you can give your baby (love, stability, wisdom) than a bit of breast milk…

    • May 23, 2011 / 10:22 am

      Whoa, some really good info there! Have got a Hot Milk bra so far and will look into Anita bras when things have settled down a bit. I’ve just accepted that us big-boobed women will never get away with the £8 M&S bras or whatever.  I’m all about the underwiring, actually, because these mamas are heavy! True about not overthinking it. Should write on a card: “Trust your outer placentas”.

  7. May 20, 2011 / 4:53 pm

    I’m the oppositte boob-wise; they were small before Frog, then ballooned to gigantic proportions and, since breastfeeding, have shrivelled into tiny lumps no bigger than a peanut. Sexy.

    Good luck with breastfeeding. 11 months on and we’re still going. I’m wondering if I’ll ever get her off! It wasn’t always easy but we stuck with it. Mainly because Frog point-blank refused a bottle. Ever. But also because I’m desperately lazy and couldn’t be bothered to faff around sterilising bottles in the middle of the night. It also gave me an excuse to stuff my face with cake whenever the opportunity arose (I “needed” those extra calories you know).

    • May 23, 2011 / 10:24 am

      I took from this the small hope that my boobs might actually end up smaller than before eventually, but I know it’s sadly unlikely! Grass is greener – I think I envy your “peanuts”! 🙂 Fab that you’ve been going for 11 months. Always great to hear that it does work out! And yes, it’s less of a faff and definitely less expensive!

  8. May 20, 2011 / 8:54 pm

    OK,

    I am big boobed!  I was told with the twins that because of their size I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed and then after a while I gave up trying.  With BB I really wanted to try it and do it.  I heard from my Godmother who is a midwife that I had been failed by the medical profession, everywoman can breastfeed if someone is skilled enough to show them how.

    When  I had BB I met over ten midwifes who couldn’t ‘latch her on’ again I was told that my breast size would stop me feeding.  This time I expressed rather than giving her formula and refused to leave hospital, on day four I met the midwife who in her words was ‘great at breastfeeding’ with the aid of some nipple shields BB latched on, 12 months later she is still latching on.

    Not bad for someone who ‘cant’ breastfeed@can:disqus 

    On a serious note if you want any advice etc feel free to email me for my number – I gets a bit passionate now about big boobed women and breastfeeding!

    x
     

    • May 23, 2011 / 10:27 am

      Glad to hear that it *does* work with big boobs. I think I’m prepared for it potentially being a challenge but it’s encouraging hearing that those challenges can be overcome. Thanks for offering your support! x

  9. May 23, 2011 / 1:38 pm

    I think the most important thing about BFing is believing in yor boob’s power 🙂 If anything goes wrong, midwives, bf consultants, online friends/groups will definitely help.I tandemfeed my 4 year old and 1.5 year old.
    My sister’s baby had difficulty latching because her breasts were so big. Expressing a little bit before bf used to help her.
    Hope everything goes smoothly 🙂

    • May 23, 2011 / 3:25 pm

      Wow, check you out with the tandem feeding. I’m always impressed by that. Good little tip about the expressing, thanks! 🙂

  10. May 23, 2011 / 4:36 pm

    In the beginning latching on is the hardest (although some mums and some babies find it easy).  Our problem was that Aaron had a tongue tie, so we did not get breastfeeding established until week 6.  There were alot of tears between birth and then but I was stubborn and determined.  As a result of that and a C section I have never had enough milk so we’ve always combination fed, and still are and Aaron’s 11 months now.  I’d be lost without breastfeeding – it gets him to sleep when nothing else works and ends a bad mood when nothing else does.   Bye for now, Liska x

    • May 24, 2011 / 11:49 am

      I know so many women whose babies had a tongue tie. I imagine that’s stressful as you probably don’t know why the baby’s not latching properly. Good on you for being determined. Looks like you put up a hard fight. 

  11. Kyla
    May 23, 2011 / 5:05 pm

     Being a Size F before pregnancy I have had no issue with breastfeeding. Of anything I think it gives more room to store the milk and so you are less likely to run out during growth spurts, but I may be making that up. AJ has no issues latching on even when I am engorged, hope it goes ok.

    • May 24, 2011 / 11:48 am

      Glad to hear it wasn’t a problem! Not sure how scientifically correct that explanation is, especially since I know one or two large boobed women with problematic supply but it’s good that sometimes there really isn’t an issue. 🙂

  12. June 9, 2011 / 9:57 pm

    Well, I’m a 34J and am still feeding Eleanor at 20(?) months. But… I did have huge issues in the first couple of weeks. If you do end up having trouble, you need someone who knows what they’re doing to help you in person – though advice is always good, too. Breastfeeding support groups are great.

    Can you tell I’m sneaking on here to find out if you’ve given birth yet? I’m of course not going to ask, because that would be so very annoying!

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