When I was pregnant, I genuinely wasn’t sure if I was even going to try breastfeeding. I was always a believer that “fed is best” so I wasn’t too concerned about it. I’ve always been somewhat insecure about my boobs because they’re virtually non-existent so I didn’t know how comfortable I’d be just whipping one out at any given moment. Plus, I’d heard horror stories about how your boobs can completely vanish after breastfeeding, how bad breastfeeding can hurt and how gnarly your nipples can get from the constant feeding, etc, etc. Needless to say, I was pretty put off by the idea. I knew people who formula fed by choice and by necessity. All of their kids were fine. Better than fine! They were perfectly healthy non-breastfed children. So what was the issue? Why are women so strongly encouraged to breastfeed? Why did I feel this pressure to give it shot?
I brought these questions to my doctor, who told me about the benefits. She said it wasn’t necessary for you baby’s health but it could definitely be beneficial for their health. Okay, fair enough. She had me considering it. But then I’d get flashes of people’s boobs here, there and everywhere and crawl back into my head about it. At restaurants, at the airport, at my backyard BBQ. Boobs. Everywhere. Feeding children. And making me feel self conscious for some reason. Where do I look?! I mean, it’s beautiful but it’s personal. It’s providing sustenance for your kid but it’s also your boob. What if it was my boob? Would I be happily providing sustenance for my kid because she was my top priority and who gives a shit what anyone else thinks, sees or says? Or would I be that much more self-conscious because I was very aware that it was now my boob that was just out at restaurants, at the airport, at my backyard BBQ?Thinking about it honestly gave me anxiety. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Will I be a bad mom if I don’t? Will I be uncomfortable if I do? So I stopped thinking about it. I actually made no decision about it until the moment my daughter was laid on my chest for the first time.
I had a doula on my right and a nurse on my left, talking me through how to breastfeed before I’d even confirmed that it was my intention to do. But I’m polite. And socially awkward. So I went along with it and let them try to stick my boob in this beautiful baby I’d just met’s mouth.
It didn’t take her long to figure it out. Lucky. And it didn’t hurt one bit. Luckier. And I was completely-fucking-awestruck-I’d-do-anything-to-keep-you-happy-healthy-and-safe-in-love with this beautiful baby I’d just met. Luckiest. Woman. Alive. Otherwise simply known as, a mom. She seemed to like it. It just came so naturally to her. I was kind of blown away by how nature-like the whole thing was. Instinctive. Immediate. Like it was meant to be. And while I thought it would feel super unnatural to me, it didn’t. It was like I finally understood what these virtually non-existent boobs of mine were always meant for. My tiny boobs that had made me insecure since puberty finally had a purpose and I loved it!
My milk took a while to come in so I opted for the SNS system, which I elaborate on in My Breastfeeding Journey video HERE. It took effort and it was annoying and at times exhausting and stressful but I didn’t bat a lash at it. I didn’t contemplate whether or not it was worth it for one second. I just did it because this breastfeeding thing felt like what was supposed to happen between me and that baby girl.
Before I knew it, my milk was in, I was pretty much feeding on demand and if that meant it was happening while I signed my new car lease across the desk from the dealership guy then that’s when it happened. True story. I wasn’t insecure or uncomfortable or embarrassed at all. I gave absolutely no shits what what anyone thought, saw or said because you’re damn right that kid was my top priority and if she was hungry, she was gonna get fed. It made me feel empowered. It made me feel bonded to my daughter. It gave me confidence as a mother. I cherished every second of that breastfeeding journey while it lasted because as soon as she was out of the protection of my tummy and into the big, bad, scary world outside, I panicked. I found comfort in breastfeeding because it was the one thing I could still do for her and provide to her that no one else could. Makes me proud all over again just typing it out. I did that. We did that. Just me and that beautiful baby girl who I’d just met.
I’m still a firm believer that “fed is best”. I’m not sharing this to encourage anyone else to breastfeed. I’m simply sharing my story because I’m also a firm believer that doing what works and feels right for you and your kid is what’s best for you and your kid. I’m glad I didn’t let the anxieties or hesitations I felt about breastfeeding before I had my daughter stop me from trying because I may have never learned that it was in fact what was best for me and my daughter.
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.