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Friday, 19 November 2010

Learning to love.

It's fair to say that breasts are considered 'womanly' in our society - but this story shows that what is pleasing to the eye is not always pleasing to the heart.  Sometimes we find love where we least expect it - in this case, self-love.

I am extremely grateful to the writer for sharing her story with us all. 
I like to think I'm a pretty good judge of people, but lady - you really took me by surprise!




'I've had a pretty ambivalent relationship with my breasts in the past.  For pretty much all of my teenage years I considered that I didn't have any!  I was a late bloomer.  I was small, extremely petite and flat as a pancake.  I desperately wanted breasts. I envied other girls curves. I felt really pretty unhappy about my body.

When I left school at the age of 18, I was a 32AA.  I started to feel a little more confident over my university years, but mainly because I had discovered some really good padded bras and had worked out what looked good on me.  When I was 24 I just decided that I was going to get a boob job.
I really don't know what sparked this off - things were going very well for me.  I had a great social life, good job, boyfriend, lots of interests, but I just suddenly decided that I had been unhappy about my boobs for long enough, and now that I could afford to, I would do something about it.

I was sure I wouldn't breastfeed, so wasn't worried about that.  My grand plan was that after I had a baby I'd have developed boobs anyway and could have the implants removed.  Sorted!  I did my research over the next couple of months, found a place I liked and 3 weeks later I had gone from a small 32A to a full 32C. I was delighted.  They looked amazing.  I immediately felt that these were the boobs I was meant to have.  At last I was able to walk into a shop, pick up any size 10 and know it would look great.  I could wear any style - no gaping clothes - perfect sizing.  My confidence sky-rocketed.  I made huge amounts of changes in my life over the next couple of years.  I felt great.  I did feel a little sad that I had had to do something so drastic to myself in order to feel like this however.

Blokes started to look at my boobs. This both annoyed and exhilarated me. I'd never experienced this before.  Although I was pleased my wonderful boobs were being noticed, I simultaneously felt really sad that the reason these particular blokes were noticing me was due to something false.  Five years later I started having some pain. I completely panicked about the implants and I just wanted them out - RIGHT NOW!
Off I went to a surgeon and asked him to please take them out. He talked me out of it.

He clearly recognised that I was panicked and not thinking clearly. He advised that the pain was muscular, not implant related and advised that I had so little breast tissue that the result would not be good if they were removed. He told me that if I were to have them removed I would need a lift in order to remove excess skin that had been stretched. This would involve moving the nipple and could interfere with breastfeeding. By this stage I was thinking of pregnancy and thought I probably would breastfeed. I left very despondent.

My attitude towards my great boobs started to change again.  They still looked great, and I loved that, but I started to feel a bit concerned about what long term repercussions there would be.  I gradually started to feel some kind of regret.  I can't truely call it regret, as they had raised my confidence and I couldn't be sure if I would have made the same choices or be the same person if I had not had the implants.  I definitely felt that with the knowledge I now had, however, I wouldn't choose to do it again.

Another couple of years later I got pregnant and went back to the surgeon.  By now I definitely wanted to breastfeed.  He reassured me that I would have no problem breastfeeding, in fact it may be easier as the breast tissue was pushed forward, and there would be no risk to the baby.  He recommended that I do breastfeed, but advised that there was no benefit to feeding after 3 months (yeah right - but I knew no better then!).  So the plan was to feed the baby for 3 months, let my boobs settle back to normal and then have the implants out and see if a lift was needed depending on whether I had more glandular tissue after pregnancy and breastfeeding.

During pregnancy my boobs became massive for my frame. I went from my ideal 32C to a 36D.  Not that big really, but for the rest of my body they looked way too big (remember this is really a shift from natural 32A to 36D).  I disliked them being so big, and wondered what my own boobs would be like while pregnant.  I read and read about pregnancy and breastfeeding and once again the view of my breasts began to evolve.  I really wanted to breastfeed, and I made my birthplan around successful initiation of breastfeeding. I learned about hypnobirthing, I learned about skin to skin, I learned about drugs which interfered with breastfeeding. My birthplan went slightly awry on the day as they all do :) but breastfeeding initiation went well. We had our skin to skin and my son fed within a few minutes. We started a mutual love affair with breastfeeding.

We had some common problems - cracked nipples in the first week, oversupply, fast letdown, lots of leaking, silent reflux which was very distressing for both of us, a blocked duct - but I could see and feel how wonderful breastfeeding was, and I was hooked!  By the time we had got to 6 weeks I thought I would be able to feed for 6 months.  By the time I had got to 3 months I thought I could stretch it to a year, and so it went on.  In the back of my head I was trying to work out what I was going to do about these boobs. I wanted to get pregnant again.  If I had to have a breastlift I would need significant time, maybe a year, for my tissue to heal before I could get pregnant.  If I went ahead and got pregnant now I would want to feed that baby for a couple of years as well.  So I thought that this surgery was starting to get pushed out for another 3 or so years.  I'd had the implants in for 10 years at this point, and had always read that was the average life span and I didn't want to push it.  I did a lot of research again, and made a decision. 

I felt entirely differently about my boobs now than I had 10 years before. My boobs were womanly. They were doing the most womanly thing possible - they were feeding my child, and I loved them for that.

They were doing that even though they were small.  They now had a purpose, a function, and that was more important than how they looked.  I went back to the surgeon and asked him if he could just remove the implants, not do a lift and continue to breastfeed during the whole process.  After a lot of discussion about my reasons and the importance of breastfeeding to me, he agreed.  When my son was 19 months old I popped in for my day procedure, had my general anaesthetic, had my implants removed and very carefully fed my son later that day.

So there we have it - a few myths busted I hope. 

Yes it is possible to feed with implants.  Yes it is possible to have surgery while breastfeeding.  It is possible to feed after an explant, and you can have small boobs and LOADS of milk.

My son is still feeding (now 2 yrs), and showing no sign of stopping. He loves my new-original boobs. I love my new original boobs. They are still a 32A. At my followup my surgeon was amazed at how well they looked, and agreed that I had made the right decision not to go with a lift. They are small, but pretty pert, they are lactating and they are all me.'






Image courtesy of http://www.imageafter.com/

5 comments:

  1. A fantastic story, thanks so much for sharing! I'm in a similar situation in that I had implants about 7 years ago when I wasn't even thinking about children. When I did get pregnant with my daughter I knew I wanted to breastfeed more than anything else. I was so worried as to whether I'd have enough milk or whether my ducts had been damaged from surgery but it turns out I had more than enough milk to go around and fed her successfully.
    I'm now pregnant again and won't even hesitate to feed again. If anything my breasts have become more natural looking since the feeding. I have also looked into explants and have put it off thinking I wouldn't be able to have the op until my feeding days are done. Thanks for sharing that this isn't the case. It's lovely to hear from other women that it is totally fine and completely manageable to breastfeed with implants.

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  2. Amazing :) I have had implants put in after feeding my son for 3 months and my daughter for 7 months. I am planning to have more children in 7-8 years and breastfeed for even longer. This gives me hope that my breastfeeding journey will be easier than expected (hopefully!) thank you for sharing your story xx

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  3. Hi - I hope you don't mind - I would like to put a link of this story on my website (petrah.co.uk)- as I think women who come to my page will be delighted to have another resource and will find it helpful to read a story from someone who has been there and done it. Thank you for sharing :-)

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  4. Hi, This is an older article, so I may not get an answer :) Just wondering whether the breast implants were over the muscle or under? I have a very similar story and would like to get mine explanted, but my toddler is still nursing frequently.

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