Breastfeeding as a plus-size parent – what I wish more people knew

Lea feeding toddler son Remi

Prior to conception we have the media, medics, family, friends, Fred Blogs on the street giving the message that “health is defined by a clothes size and or number on the scales”. However, for many of us – due to medication side effects, life circumstance, and many other factors – we are fat or “plus sized”.

Plus size and pregnant

Throughout pregnancy we have it reinforced that a bigger body is bad. Our pregnancies are frequently labelled as “high risk” for no other reason than our BMI. Complications are preached before any sign of them occurring. Then as our tummies continue to grow – with the miracle of new life – the difficulties of finding clothing that’s both comfortable and practical is an all-too-loud reminder that as fat humans we rarely fit in.

Throughout pregnancy we have it reinforced that a bigger body is bad.

Has anyone thought about the fact that we may not want to hide behind baggy oversized tracksuits or frilly florals?  But what option do we have, when that is all the high street appears to offer our bodies?

The trouble with bras

Finding bra’s above a F cup in the UK is a challenge. At the time of writing this my bra I just took off is a KK cup. I have found two brands that seem to make bras in my size. Well I say make, but the reality is that with one of the bras I’ve had to add a back extender to it in order for it to fit me properly. The other is expensive but puts my boobs where they should be unlike the former whom seem to think they’re an extension of my stomach. But of course the bra that gives me shape, lift, and comfort comes with additional fat tax to its price.

I used to be envious of friends whom could go to any shop on the high street and buy any bra with any intricate detail at pocket money prices. I’d often chuckle and think their bras would just about cover my nips and areoles. But, as with many things, bras come at an additional cost if they are to be found in my size. And even then my choices are limited. Surely I can’t be the only short, fat and large chested human out there, can I? 

breastfeeding and plus-size

Finding feeding positions that work

I fed my elder child for a bit over 7 years and have currently been feeding my little guy since the summer of 2020 with no plans to cease any time soon.

Feeding with a larger than average chest and a fat body, takes patience and perseverance. Cradle hold feeds have never worked for me when they were newborn. The rugby hold did work as did laying my newborn on the sofa arm with a breast in their face. Allowing them to breast crawl on top of me and find the milk themselves always worked well too. One of my favourite feeding positions even when my younger child was a mere few hours old is sitting (well propping) them up and me flat on my back upper body supported with cushions my boob in their laps and allow them to feed.

Feeding with a larger than average chest and a fat body, takes patience and perseverance.

When out and about the koala hold works for us and we’ve been using it ever since they were able to sit up independently. The road to finding the right position was difficult – with lots of tears (from both them and me) to find what works for us.

Feeding in public

With my eldest I frequently heard the phrase “two top method” as a way of easy feeding when in public. The idea is you pull up your top shirt, pull down your under shirt, latch your baby and voila. But for me and alot of plus size people, that is impractical when whatever position we feed in, ample skin is exposed. This was especially true in the early days whilst finding our way and seeing what positions worked for us.

I would crave to be the parent sat in a cafe who could feed without anyone really knowing, but then the blessing of being blind (as I am) payed me a favour for I couldn’t see the looks of disgust and distain on strangers faces. I could hear the tuts and comments, but held my head up smiled. The fact is, I trusted my body far more than a stranger would ever comprehend and that knowledge and self belief enabled us to thrive.

More education is needed to help plus size people

Time and time again I read and have been told “if you breastfeed weight will rapidly drop off!” Then surely my size is due to those lbs melting off each of you reading this and affixing itself on me? Or am I the only one for whom this particular old wives tale fails to ring true? There is also the idea that breast size impacts quantity of milk produced – but this is not the case. For example, a small chested person can have an abundant supply of milk just as much as a larger chested person.

Time and time again I read and have been told “if you breastfeed weight will rapidly drop off!”

I really wish those who work in infant feeding would take more time to hear what we as fat people say our hopes as well as fears are. I know I am not the only person whom prior to beginning to feed was anxious that my ample breasts would potentially suffocate my smalls.

I’ve had the fear that the sheer weight of my chest may overwhelm or smother my smalls. Luckily, both my small humans are stubborn and determined like me, two qualities which have enabled each individual feeding journey to not only survive but also thrive.

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