Prior to having my own family, back in the days when I had substantially more sight than I went on to lose, if I saw someone feeding in public they were covered, they were always slim, they always made it look effortless.
As time passed (and so did my sight, but that’s another blog) we began our own journey to having our family. When I read anything about feeding there were cutsey picture illustrations of positions to feed.
There was little to no representation of plus-size parents feeding their baby
TV shows very seldomly showed feeding (although big shout out to Rugrats showing a plus-sized person tandem feeding back in the days of my childhood) and when they did was always slim person with small breasts cross-cradle feeding with no skin showing at all. There was no literature to describe what to do and how to feed when your nipples would prefer to face the floor.
Yes, biology says we have milk ducts 360’ so any number of feeding positions should be possible but with KK/L cup breasts and more than a few rolls on my stomach the reality of feeding positions was far from easy.
With KK/L cup breasts and more than a few rolls on my stomach the reality of feeding positions was far from easy.
The first time around, once I got my daughter to latch and milk transfer to happen, I naively assumed we’d be set for the duration of our feeding journey. How wrong was I! I hadn’t factored in teething, the biting, the gnawing at me for comfort, the kicking me, the twiddling of the opposite nip, the pummelling of breast tissue to aid milk let down. Not to mention the feeding in public once a toddler and how she’d expose as much of my flesh as possible.
Positioning was not plain sailing
Whilst I trusted my body despite all it threw at me, positioning was not plain sailing. The default go-to for those of us with a larger chest seems to be “rugby hold”. This is all well and good but when you’re having to support your breast and lift your nipple, paranoid of suffocation due to the sheer size of the breast compared to small newborn, adaptations need to be made. Therefore positioning evolves.
In those early sleep lacking days and nights which blurred to one with both my small humans, there are a few position I remember working well for us. If we were downstairs I’d rest them on the sofa, arm dangling with a boob towards them. Once their mouth opened I’d shovel my nip in almost as if playing a frenzied game of hungry hippos. If we were upstairs I’d sit them up at a 90’ angle – long before they could self sit – with an arm around them, breast in their lap and they’d latch. I’d also trust them to do the breast crawl and find me themselves.
Once their mouth opened I’d shovel my nip in almost as if playing a frenzied game of hungry hippos.
Feeding in public
When out and about with my eldest I gave up caring what or how others saw what I was doing. My small needed nourishing and that was my only care. I have vivid memories of being laid on my back in the cafe of a department store with my eldest as their chairs were too narrow to get either of us comfortable to feed. Curled up on sofas in high street coffee shops, we fed whenever, wherever.
With my youngest the knowledge I’d gained with my eldest was handy and it gave me confidence. However, he was a lockdown baby which complicated feeding in public as we were prohibited by law from being out in public. As Covid restrictions started to ease we ventured out and about, frequenting places I knew from the past which showed a friendly attitude towards feeding, but also places I knew had comfortable seating.
The koala hold is great for feeding a toddler
As both of them grew, different positions became easier. I’m currently loving the koala hold when out and about with my nearly 20month old. I resorted to this position a lot with my daughter but never knew it had a name until recently.
Over the years of feeding my children, I’ve had them hanging from the sofa, with their feet in my mouth, fingers up my nose, more skin exposed than I care to think, milk sprayed around, it’s been an adventure! Of course, the most important thing is that my kids have been fed.
The one thing I have learned is that is there is no right or wrong amount of skin to have out (or not) when I feed as that is not my focus. Any age of feeding brings fresh challenges but my body has thus far not only met but smashed previous challenges and I have confidence that it will continue to do so. If seeing us feed offends you or someone you are with that is your issue to explore and unpack not to project to me and my small. We will continue to feed wherever and whenever it is normal and we thrive trusting my body and his demands on it.
The one thing I have learned is that is there is no right or wrong amount of skin to have out (or not) when I feed
Please don’t exclude us plus-sized parents
In addition, why are nursing bras all such a small cup and back size? Fat people like me feed our young, we may choose or need to wear a bra, we should not have to settle for discomfort and back extenders to have something vaguely fit us.
Not all chests and breasts are small. Many of us are above a 38 back and a cup size J so please don’t exclude us when designing. Please don’t erase us, we want to be seen, we want our bodies supported and elevated, we want comfort, we don’t want to spend the world on just one bra. Do better by us and for us.
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