Friday, March 18, 2011

Breastfeeding and my self-image

"Welcome to the first Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (March). To celebrate National Women's Month, our participants share how breastfeeding has changed them as a woman. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

* * * * * * *
All the research out now really supports how breastfeeding is best for baby and mommy (see list here), but there's no research that says how breastfeeding helps enhance a woman's self-esteem. But I can tell you with confidence that breastfeeding did one thing that no self-help book, no women's mag empowerment article, or no religious sermon ever did--breastfeeding made me proud of my body!

First of all, I never had to diet or exercise to look good. I was super thin--a size 1 when I was in my early 20s then a 2 in my late 20s then a size 4 in my early 30s. Despite not needing to hit the gym, I still didn't feel confident. I didn't exactly have low self-esteem but my body wasn't particularly anything special. I felt that even more acutely when I became skinny and flabby when I hit 30!

7 months pregnant!
Then I got pregnant. As my body became even more rounded and big, I felt bad whenever people said, "Your body's never going to be the same again," or "You're having a boy? Of course. You look ugly!" Then when I gave birth, the sight of my ravaged body definitely did not help in the self-esteem department.

Then... I started breastfeeding. My body shrunk fast, my breasts filled with milk and my baby boy suckled happily at breasts that were hard, not the lovely soft mounds seen on sexy stars.

But with each breastfeeding minute, my self-esteem blossomed. I felt a happiness and wonder at what my body can do. I was so proud of my body! My body is nourishing my son. My breasts are filled with good nutrition! My bosom and belly make a soft cushiony cradle for my baby boy. My arms and legs--thicker now--are so strong! My body stopped being a source of criticism. It is now my pride and joy.

The funny thing is I looked better before I got pregnant! Sometimes, when I've spent the entire day looking at Hollywood stars (it's my job to do so!), I catch a glimpse of my body and get a bit panick-y. Where did my skinny arms, slender thighs, small chest (I liked my small chest!) go? Will I ever be sexy again? Then I remember that this body is a milk machine that makes it possible for my Vito to be healthy, smart and strong. And that makes my body perfect.

* * * * * * *
Here are the other blog posts of the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival. Enjoy!
Apples & Dumplings: The Breasts and Me!
Changing Nappies in High Heels: Of Nursing and Self-Awareness
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Please Think Before You Comment
Imperfectly Created: Feeling Fab at 40
Manila Fashion Observer: My Breastfeeding Story
Mommying in Heels: Loving Jaden, Changing Me
Rainy Days and Momdays: The Adventures of Super Cow
Soprano Mom Writes: Breastfeeding and My Career
The Odyssey of Dina: Nurturing Rafael: Same Old Brand New Me
Truly Rich Mom: Breastfeeding Has Made Me A Better Woman

14 comments:

  1. Hey sis, it's amazing how breastfeeding has made us proud of our bodies, doesn't it? :-D

    ReplyDelete
  2. a woman's body is certainly amazing - from nourishing a baby in your womb to nourishing and nurturing the same baby at your breasts and in your arms. so natural but makes me wonder why so many women give up so easily or are unable to breastfeed - is it the marketing of the companies? loss of self-esteem? lack of information?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I used to worry about how I didn't lose weight while breastfeeding and that I'm fat. But when I think about how I nourish my child just with my breast. I don't worry anymore :)

    Jenny, I think all of the above. Some give up because of the pain alone. I wish there's more awareness on breastfeeding.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think a lot of moms give up because a. they are misinformed or lack proper information/education

    b. believe all the marketing mumbo-jumbo that formula companies put out there

    c. lack proper support and encouragement from others

    I really applaud you Frances, for being a BFing mom and advocate! :-) I tried posting a comment before about one of your posts (the one where you mentioned God and your faith I think) and how it made me cry. I wasn't able to publish it then though, but I am telling you now - keep on inspiring people through your writing! :-) Be blessed to be a blessing to others!

    Tina of www.trulyrichmom.com and www.teachermamatina.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jenny, I think women don't breastfeed more because of lack of information. Why aren't my breasts huge? I've given birth, why don't I have milk? Why am I expressing a few ounces? Am I feeding my baby enough? Why does it hurt? Will it always hurt? Do I really have to breastfeed till my baby's 2 years old? Is an expensive pump the only way to express milk? Etc etc.

    Faced with such questions, a new mommy will turn to the "easier" option: formula. I faced those same questions and I confess I almost gave up if not for the fact that I was determined to give Vito full protection from asthma and diabetes. I'm happy that my determination spurred me on through the pain and the sleepless nights! Those sleepless nights were spent feeding Vito AND researching for answers. Now, breastfeeding is LOVE!

    Okay, loooong comment. I should've just written a new post! =)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, Teacher Mama Tina! I applaud you, too! =D

    ReplyDelete
  7. lolz... I have lost 50 pounds already (well, I was way overweight when I got preggy the 2nd time). Breastfeeding is really so effective for me that I sometimes entertain the idea of delaying solids, haha :D

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post Topaz Mommy! breastfeeding works wonders for babies body and ours! I am a large person by size to begin with. I was way overweight when I was preggy, and now at 1.6 yrs of full breastfeeding, I really feel good about slimming back to medium-large clothes! Cheers to baby's nursing powers for mom's slimming! Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree, what new mommies need is a whole lot of information on breastfeeding, especially the benefits of it. Our generation has improved in the sense that there really is a strong awareness about breastfeeding and that mommies like us are encouraging and supporting one another to continue to do what we do. It's a small step, a tiny drop in the bucket, but I know in time, all mothers will see the beauty and wisdom in going back to what's most natural =)

    ReplyDelete
  10. oh i agree! breastfeeding made me love my body more, and made me less self conscious.

    btw i met vince once for a J&J project with summit :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. i also got the same unnecessary remarks when i was preggy- "Your body's never going to be the same again, or hindi ka na papayat." Which i dont see the point of saying at all! although looking at your preggy pic here.. you look fabulous parin! ( which i cant say for myself hahaha)

    We eat for our babies and not for ourselves anymore. A woman's body is beautiful because it gives life and nourishment! hurrah for that!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mec, you can still breastfeed even when you introduce solids, diba? =)

    handymommy, ya, it's so cool how nature works. Like, who'd have thought the breast was somehow "connected" to the uterus?? I can't believe how fast my tummy shrunk after I gave birth!

    Christine, yes! We have to spread the good news that breastfeeding is really fantabulous =)

    Ree, oh! You work with J&J? Vito has Johnson's Baby stuff!

    BusyBees, thanks! But diba, why do these people relish saying unnecessary things like that? Really!

    ReplyDelete
  13. i don't know if people compliment or are worried about my body now. i'm too thin (daw!). i lost 30lbs already, which is 10lbs more than what i gained during pregnancy.

    btw, kuya ted was my college-mate :) you're baby is so cute!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Take it na lang as a compliment! =)

    ReplyDelete

This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!