We had NO idea.
Throughout my pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum and breastfeeding experiences, I was amazed at everything my body could and was doing. Like, how in the freakin' hell was it growing and sustaining and birthing and feeding another human being? It was incredible.
It was also, to be fair, a little weird, and there were so many creepy things my boobs did when I was breastfeeding that had me running towards the nearest Google search and wondering if my breasts were "normal."
I don't think anything makes you acutely aware of just how closely "awesome" and "creepy," coincide, like breastfeeding can and usually does. I mean, it's perfectly normal for a relative stranger to grab your boobs, massage, squeeze and place them in another human being's mouth. Like, that's a Tuesday afternoon. It's perfectly normal (not to mention, amazing) to hook yourself up to a machine and pump life-giving liquids out of your breasts, put those liquids in a bottle, and feed said liquids to someone else.
Breastfeeding is amazing and wondrous, but it's also kind of weird and strange and the things your breasts do in order to sustain another human life can be, you know, creepy. Of course, I hesitate to use that word "creepy," as breastfeeding mothers are already busy combating the sexualization of breastfeeding and fighting for the right to breastfeed in public (without a cover) without being shamed and judged by total strangers. Obviously, the act of breastfeeding itself is anything but creepy, and that's worth repeating over and over and over again until mothers can feed their children without someone screaming at them.
Still, what your breasts do when you're attached to them and using them to feed another human being can be kind of creepy. It can be somewhat unnerving and a little odd and, well, it can definitely take some time getting used to.
So, in the name of solidarity and honesty and the ability to laugh at something sort weird but insanely cool, here are some creepy things your boobs do when you're breastfeeding:
1. Leak, like, all the time
I'll never forget the first time my breasts started leaking breast milk. I was already somewhat engorged and my son started crying and, well, that's all she wrote, as it were.
I had sufficiently drenched almost the entire front of my shirt, which ended up working out for me, in the end, because I could blame my clumsiness and an uncapped beverage, instead of my breasts, for my, um, awkward state. It was less creepy and more just somewhat uncomfortable and hilarious, but it was still a moment I will forever look back on at laugh at (especially because, as I continued to breastfeed, it happened more frequently and I cared less and less that it did).
Honestly, leaking breasts aren't creepy and part of the whole breastfeeding thing. I mean, if nothing leaks out of your breasts, your kid won't be eating.
2. Develop stretch marks
I was lucky in that I didn't develop stretch marks on my stomach or thighs when I was pregnant. I did, however, get stretch marks on my breasts and while they have faded considerably, those bad boys aren't going anywhere. I didn't really think about the fact that my breasts were going to grow in size, along with the rest of my body, and it only made sense once it happened, but it still creeped me out at first.
3. They can get really, really hard...
I mean dear breastfeeding gods those bad boys felt like rocks right before I fed my son. It was insane. I mean, I could have used them as weapons. Forget expensive self-defense classes, if I was ever in trouble while I was breastfeeding I'd just imagine my kid crying, fill those suckers up and then throw myself at potential perpetrators. I could have broken bones with those breasts of mine, I swear it.
4. ...And then super, super soft
Of course, once my son was done eating and he had filled his tiny stomach up with way more milk than I could have imagined such a tiny stomach holding, my breasts felt like sad little balloons that have been inflating, slowly, for three weeks. It really was creepy/awesome/incredible/weird that my breasts could go from hard as nails to soft as a shoelace, in the matter of a twenty or thirty minutes.
5. They can get infected
Infections while breastfeeding are pretty common, but it doesn't make them any less creepy. I honestly think it's just because of where that infection takes place, that ends up creeping women (i.e. me) out as much as it does.
To be fair, I am creeped out by any infection. I like to be clean and know that I'm not going to be sick and I've seen too many YouTube videos to be even remotely OK with having an infection. Still, when bacteria from my baby's mouth got into a cracked nipple and ended up infecting my breast, I was creeped out in a way I have never been before.
6. Your nipples can invert
Breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples isn't the end of the world. In fact, often times a simple solution is simply squeezing your nipples gently until they protrude forward and your baby can latch. Still, it's kind of insane that inverted nipples is even a thing, right?
7. Your nipples can crack and bleed
While your nipples are being used day at night and, if you're a new mom, in a way they've never been used before, cracking and bleeding nipples aren't necessarily normal. Usually, it's a sign that your baby isn't latching properly or you're using your breast pump the wrong way, because breastfeeding shouldn't be painful.
A slight change in position when breastfeeding can make all the difference in the world, so don't take this creepy side effect as a normal part of breastfeeding. It isn't (or, at the very least, it doesn't have to be).
8. Your nipples can get huge
How in the ever loving' you-know-what can nipples get that big?! I remember the first time I looked at my nipples after I was breastfeeding and while it made sense (I mean, they had just been sucked on by a tiny newborn who was, at the time, very hungry) it was also mind-boggling. I even Googled "abnormally large nipples" just to make sure it wasn't some super secret sign of cancer that I wasn't previously aware of. (OK, yes, I was also very tired and hormonal but still, it was creepy and weird).
9. (Basically, your nipples are always creepy)
They just are. I'm OK with it now. Like, I've moved past it. I've accepted this part of my reality. It's fine. Totally fine.
10. They can end up lopsided
For the entire time I breastfed my son (a solid seven months, although the breastfeeding gods know I wish it could have been even longer) my breasts were different sizes. I tried to alternate breasts as often as possible, and did because if I didn't I would be in pain, but the left was just slightly larger than the right.
Eventually, a few months after I stopped breastfeeding, those bad boys leveled out and now they look relatively the same, but still, it was weird to be somewhat lopsided for a little while.
11. They can start a whole bunch of controversy
To be fair, this isn't my (or any other woman's) breasts' fault at all. No, this is society's fault, my friends, and I, personally, am so very freakin' sick of it.
It's so creepy that a woman's breasts can garnish so much attention in public; It's so creepy that a woman has to defend her right to use her breasts functionally; It's so creepy that people feel entitled to comment on a woman's breasts when she is breastfeeding; It's so creepy that breastfeeding in public is even debated. I mean, why?!
The fact that a woman can't breastfeed her kid in public, sans cover, without judgment or shame is easily one of the creepiest parts of breastfeeding and, sadly, it's one of the parts that could easily be fixed if society just got it together.
This article was originally published at Romper. Reprinted with permission from the author.