It occurred to me today that I have accepted something about my body that mere months ago made me feel very insecure.  This thing, while totally normal, was not always there.  It was something new and foreign to my body and it came while I was pregnant.

Now, I have to see it every single day, many times a day.  What is it?  Men…. you may want to stop reading now (like there are many men who read my blog!)  I am talking about larger than average areolas!

You read in the pregnancy books that your areolas may darken in appearance, and/or get larger with pregnancy.  Mine got quite a bit larger.  And have stayed that way.  I don’t know if they will go back down when I am done nursing, but I think they are here to stay.

Why does this bother me so much?  Probably because the images of breasts shown on TV, in magazines, and in film, usually show petite little nipples, even on women with very large busts.  Realistic?  Not really.  But seeing as how I used to have average size areolas, I was ashamed.

I’ll never forget the lactation consultant who casually said that my baby should have all of my areola in his tiny newborn mouth… then went on to stumble… “well, normally.  But not you!”  Yes, thanks.

I started nursing in public with a cover, then moved to very discreetly nursing with strategicly layered clothing.  But now that my son is older I have decided I am not planning my wardrobe to accompany nursing.  We don’t have to NIP as much as before.  When it happens though, somehow we are always in a top that I have to pull out of the top.  This means the top of my breast is completely exposed, and yes, my areola is not covered completely.

I used to get around this by scrunching my top around his mouth, or squishing his face in so less was visible.  Now that he is completely in control of how he eats those are no longer options.  So, I had to be at peace with a little pink showing.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not going around town with my breasts out nursing him.  I still like to keep as much covered as possible.  If I am around many people, or strangers, I will do what I can to show less skin.  If I am around friends, I tend to be much more relaxed.  If the pink is showing, it just is.

I talked about this with a friend of mine who is in the same boat as me.  I joked with her about fitting a large areola in a newborn’s mouth, and it was nice to “come out of the closet” of large areolas.  Even nursing imagery generally shows no areola, just flesh and baby mouth.

I recently flipped through a breastfeeding manual that came with my *gasp* Medela Swing Pump.  I bought the pump before I knew about the company.  However, I was pleased to see many different women shown nursing their babies.  And most of them had visible areolas.  It made me smile, and kind of helped me accept my new breasts.

Imagine what widespread mothers nursing in public would do for other moms and their acceptance of nursing in public themselves?  Seeing moms of all shapes and sizes can do so much to normalize public breastfeeding.

16 Responses

  1. What’s wrong with Medela? Am I missing something here?

    I don’t have larger than average areolas. Mine are definitely still average after 2 kids. But my boobs are way less fabulous. They used to be beautiful. Not huge, but a size D and perfectly perky. Now they are a small C and not-so-perky at all. If I ever would consider plastic surgery, it would be to get a breast lift when I’m done having babies. No implants or anything, but for heaven’s sake, put these things back where they belong!!!

  2. I agree…all shapes, sizes and colors should be able to breastfeed in public without fear of others’ scrutiny. I was watching a short film about “proper weight”and nutrition for children (published by the BBC in 1967!) and was surprised to see a woman breastfeeding for several seconds. It’s in three parts, and the nursing part is in part 2, if you’re interested. Very interesting little clip about former views on weight and nutrition, including breastfeeding. Here’s the link to part 2:
    http://tinyurl.com/yj4o8hc

  3. I thin it is wonderful that you posted about this subject. As a postpartum nurse who has studied breastfeeding and is currently breastfeeding my own baby, I have seen all sorts of breasts and nipples. There truly is no “normal”. I also think that they should get rid of the teaching that says the whole areola should be in the baby’s mouth. That just makes women think they are abnormal. The most important thing is that the baby has a wide open mouth with the lips flanged and the tongue down.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. I think that all moms, especially new moms, must feel like their bodies have somehow betrayed them. I didn’t even breastfeed, and my breasts are certainly not what they used to be! I never had body-image problems and since my daughter was born, I have struggled to accept the new, different body that I see in the mirror now.

    Thanks for your honesty, I’m sure many women will read this and breathe a sigh of relief, as I did. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who isn’t completely happy with her body…yet.

  5. I’ve always had large areolas and have felt insecure about them. When i was learning about breastfeeding and saw those things that said the whole areola should fit in the baby’s mouth, I was very confused as to how that would be possible. I do wish there were more images of women with large areolas so that people like me wouldn’t feel like freaks for what nature gave them. Thanks for this post, made me realize others feel similarly.
    .-= April´s last blog ..And then they came for the fatties…. =-.

  6. The way our bodies change during pregnancy and after, and yet again with subsequent children is pretty amazing. I am pretty in awe of what my body can do, but still have big disappointment in how my body looks after my 2nd baby (still nursing at 10.5 months). My areolas are slightly bigger than average, my boobs are somewhat saggy (I know they will be very saggy post nursing), and my left is way bigger than my right (thanks Baby for preferring one side so strongly!)… and that’s just what’s in my bra! My hips are wider, which is okay, except my old jeans no longer fit even though I’m back to pre-pregnancy weight. My worst problem (at least in my eyes) is the excess baggy skin I have on my tummy and the huge belly button I now have. Ugh. I’m not one for surgery and I’m not all super into appearances, but I think I would have the belly “fixed” if I could afford it. 🙁
    .-= Jennifer B´s last blog ..(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – My daughter’s lovely faces =-.

  7. My son is almost 9mos old and my areola’s still show while nursing him, so I guess mine are pretty big too! But I am truly grateful that I am able to breastfeed as some moms are not. If there was a choice, I’d rather have the big areola’s than not being able to breastfeed!
    Thanks for your honesty! 🙂

  8. I think that is so true!! If we would all nurse in public on a regular basis without shame or being uncomfortable so many more women would feel comfortable to nurse their baby. So often we fall prey to the idea that we have something to hide and that gets even worse if we feel there is anything less than “normal” about our appearance. I have fairly large aerolas too.
    .-= Upstatemomof3´s last blog ..Goofy, Goofy, Goofy =-.

  9. Kim, Thank you so much for this post. I too am on the larger than normal side. I feel better knowing that I am not alone and that someone else shares the same thoughts I have had nursing. With my first DD I could not fathom fitting her tiny mouth around such a large area. But with my second DD I knew what to expect and it’s been fairly smooth sailing.

  10. I’m expecting my first and my nipples are just starting to change… I was examining them carefully the other day wondering how on earth my tiny baby will fit his tiny mouth over such a large areola… Its reassuring to know i’m not the only one with these fears and that it doesn’t matter! 🙂
    .-= Dea´s last blog ..Over the Shoulder and on the go… =-.

  11. I’m glad my post helped some of you! My hubby asked why I posted about areolas today lol!

    For those asking about Medela, the company does not comply with the W.H.O code and has no intention of doing so. I would rather support companies who do like Ameda and Hygeia.

  12. Still lost… how does Medela not comply with WHO? And maybe a little clarification on WHO? 🙂 Thanks!

    Also have large areolas! Done nursing and they have shrunk down a bit… but definitely not all the way!

  13. I have large areolas as well and was confused when I started nursing my DD too. I did not understand how she was going to fit the whole thing in her mouth… Lol. So thank you for a great post 🙂

  14. I’m so glad you wrote about this. I, too, have quite large areolas, and never could fathom how I could ever get my small baby to have the whole thing in her mouth! Heck, she’s almost 3 and still doesn’t!
    .-= Honey Narasiah´s last blog ..Say Cheese! =-.

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