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.