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"Ruining" our breasts

post #1 of 86
Thread Starter 
You know, I see frequently in lactivism circles that folks say that pregnancy and not breastfeeding is what "ruins" the breasts.

Now first, to clarify, I don't see that my breasts are ruined by anything. They are different though. Breastfeeding all these years has stretched my nipples out quite a bit. They are very long. Issues with oversupply caused engorgement and stretch marks (meaning my skin stretched more and therefor sags more now) well after my milk came in.

I think that it is misinformation to tell women that their breasts won't change. I spent some months wondering what was wrong with me that my breasts changed and they weren't "supposed" to.

Can we change our language around this? It seems like saying that BFing won't "ruin" one's breasts is acknowledging that breasts can be "ruined", and by their most important natural function at that. I would really like to see that go. I also think it's imortant to acknowledge that for many women there will be a change in their breasts and if this is something that bothers them try to come up with ways to help. For example, if a mama is concerned about stretch marks help her to keep from getting engorged and protect her skin without binding her breasts and crushing her milk supply. Sometimes there won't be anything to help with changes, but helping to normalize those changes so that we are comfortable with them is the key.

My mother nursed me past toddlerhood, and her nipples were very long, just like mine. It was so drilled in to me in all the BFing books and forums that my breasts would not change with BFing, but pregnancy, that I assumed that I was not going to end up with those stretched out nipples since I didn't have them at the end of my pregnancy. It was almost counterintuitive, to be honest, but I believed it.

I think it's misinformation to say that breasts aren't changed by BFing, many women that I've talked to have had a similar exprience to me.

I don't think it's helpful to gloss over problems that women have or deny that they exist.

Can anyone else think of some other ideas and language around this issue that would honor the experiences of all women and be honest while still promoting breastfeeding?
post #2 of 86
I have never heard anyone say their breasts were "ruined"?
Pregnancy IS what makes the breasts change, not actual breastfeeding.
If you never get pg, your breasts will never change.
post #3 of 86
Thread Starter 
I am saying that when we say to women that breastfeeding will not ruin their breasts it is like saying that breasts can be ruined. Which they can't.

And breastfeeding most definitely does cause changes in the breasts after pregnancy is over in some women.
post #4 of 86
I get what you're saying about 'ruining' - that is the way a lot of people put it (perhaps more mildly, though) - and obviously they're not ruined, just different. I think everyone's experience with those changes is different though - pregnancy is what gave me stretch marks on mine, and made them much, much bigger. I know some people don't experience that until their milk comes in, so to speak.
Not sure how to change the language though - a lot of people see not-so-perky, stretch-marked breasts as less than ideal...so do we just say breastfeeding and pregnancy will change your breasts?
post #5 of 86
I like "change" over "ruin," as a word choice.
post #6 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamma Mia View Post
And breastfeeding most definitely does cause changes in the breasts after pregnancy is over in some women.
I think what MamaIntTheBoonies meant is that pregnancy preceeds breastfeeding (you can't breastfeed unless you were pregnant first) thus it was the pregnancy that caused your breasts to change (because it led you to breastfeed).
post #7 of 86
I think there should be some truth in advertising, too. My mom nursed 3 babies for well over a year each and her nipples are now permanently, um, perky. T-shirt bras are her friend, let's say.

I couldn't care less what nursing is doing to my breasts because I didn't like them in the first place. I can sort of understand the vanity thing, but jeez, if you're that worried about your body, you might want to avoid pregnancy altogether.
post #8 of 86
yeah. and I'd rather have long nipples than a masectomy. the opportunity for breast cancer prevention is a blessing

I agree- I think sometimes we get so anxious not to turn people off to bf'ing that we try to idealize it and deny anything remotely unpleasant about it- when the message should perhaps instead be, "yes, like most things in life, there are a few issues that could be considered drawbacks. but overall, none of them outweigh the enormous benefits for the health of yourself and your baby." in other words, if you care more about long nipples than your kid catching pneumonia, your priorities are really, really wacked.
post #9 of 86
But the breasts would have become engorged if you had nursed or not so chances are the stretch marks would be there anyway as well as the excess skin.
post #10 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by TechnoGranola View Post
I think what MamaIntTheBoonies meant is that pregnancy preceeds breastfeeding (you can't breastfeed unless you were pregnant first) thus it was the pregnancy that caused your breasts to change (because it led you to breastfeed).

I'm sure you already know this but you can BF w/out being pregnant.
post #11 of 86
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post #12 of 86
Yes breastfeeding can change your breasts but I do not believe breasts can be ruined. I also don't believe breastfeeding is the only or even the most important factor. 9.2 meters per second of gravity pulling them south is a big factor, as are the hormones of pregnancy. I am the middle of 3 girls, both my sisters ff, I bf, both my sisters have the full on eggs hanging off a nail effect (my lil sis is only 20) and I do not. They aren't as perky or as round and my nipples can stretch like taffy if pressure is applied, but I am ok with that.
post #13 of 86
I think ruined is the wrong word all the way around. Our breasts are greatly improved by pregnancy and breastfeeding. They're much healthier, for sure. Our society just had f&^%K up priorities about women's bodies.
post #14 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeanine123 View Post
I'm sure you already know this but you can BF w/out being pregnant.
Heh, I knew right after I posted that someone would mention this. Yes I do know, it's just not real common, most women are pregnant first. I was just stating what I believe MITB to have meant (which was likely not smart of me since I probably misunderstood her anyway! ).
post #15 of 86
what-ev. i'd rather have "ruined" boobs than no boobs.
post #16 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies View Post
I have never heard anyone say their breasts were "ruined"?
Pregnancy IS what makes the breasts change, not actual breastfeeding.
If you never get pg, your breasts will never change.
Acctually your breasts can and will change weather you get pregnant or not, Aging does that to a person. You know, gravity and all...

So, pregnancy, breastfeeding AND AGE can change a womans breasts.

Seriously, there's no way around it, breasts are gonna change no matter what course of action one takes regarding them. Be they childless by choice *or circumstance* Adoptive, formula feeding by choice or breastfeeders, Breasts Change, just like the rest of our bodies. Men's testicles start to sag when they get older, so do breasts, weather they get "used" or not.

Women need to get rid of the steriotypical beauty image that gets pummeled into their heads from the day we are born through Barbie and Bratz and super models and all the "Beautiful People" that invest hundreds of thousands in Plastic surgery and in persuit of that mythical fountain of youth.

All I gotta say is Screw You Hollywood. Screw you Milan and Paris runway people..Screw you all. Today's standard of beauty is totally farked up and I hope it changes soon.

Pandora: Former Stripper, had PERKY 36D breasts...my money makers...I was in THAT industry...Trust me I know the whole standard is messed up.
post #17 of 86
How about breastfeeding changes your breasts, it makes them less susceptible to cancer, all in one breath? A sort of negative with a real big positive altogether?
post #18 of 86
Well if they get 'ruined', really, what would I be saving them for by not breastfeeding. THat is what they are there for....

When you are pregnant, regardless of whether you nurse or not, your still have your milk come in, your breasts get large, stretched out, very full. THAT causes the same 'damage' as nursing to keep the engorgement under control.... or maybe it only helped me to not be as engorged.
post #19 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies View Post
If you never get pg, your breasts will never change.
I think this is an urban legend. We know a Nun - she's probably about 167 years old now and she showed us photos of when she was a young lassie. Lovely, perky bosom - now she's never been pregnant, but they hang down to her belly button these days.

Off topic - she's a riot. Funniest old lady you've ever spoken to. Great stories to tell - she keeps us entertained for hours (she lives at an old folks home with my Great Great Aunt).
post #20 of 86
As for the OP - I think 'change' is a better word. My breasts weren't 'ruined' by breastfeeding, but they did change. The pregnancy had no effect that I could notice - but engorgement and years (and years and years and years) of sucking did.

My cup size is still the same as pre-pregnancy, but the tissue itself is softer and less firm. I don't see it as a bad thing - they did their job. I'm lucky in that my hubby still likes them - if he was giving me a hard time about them being 'ruined' I can definitely see how that would cause a woman to resent the change which happened.
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