July 16, 2012
I clearly remember my mom nursing my brother. It was painful, based on the crumpled look on her face. More painful than the actual nursing was the actual latching-off, removing baby mouth from mama breast. In early books, I read about a couple of key components of nursing: (1) good latch, mouth open wide! and (2) break the seal before unlatching, removing from breast. My mom's breasts, by the end of her few months of nursing my brother, were mangled. Her nipples were so stretched out, hardened from the poor latch-on and poor latch-off.
When I nursed my first child, I soon realized the effect of the lazy latch off. If I let her slip off the breast, lips still firmly wrapped around my breast and nipple, she would elongate my breast and nipple with every latch off. The result - after days, weeks, years - was not pretty. My breasts - well, at least my nipples - were starting to look like my mom's, a very skewed breast-to-nipple ratio (approaching 1 to 1!). Mamas, you know what I mean.
As I approach the three-year mark nursing my third child, I look at my bare breasts in the mirror, and I sigh. My nam-nams are looking as tired as my face. They are weathered, flappy. The worst of it, I think, are my nipples. The mechanism of getting the nourishment from my milk stores to my child's stomach, my nipples have seen better (and shorter) days. After almost a decade of combined nursing, is there any way to revive my nam-nams? Is there a way to perk my ladies up? Is there a way to unform what has become an extra-large avent nipple? Or, do I look at my breasts and feel accomplished for all the comfort and nourishment I have provided (and continue to provide) my children for all those years?