They wanted to know if breastfeeding was gross.
At first I had to stifle the urge to laugh. What in the world? The idea of breastfeeding being gross had never crossed my mind--ever--but when I saw the genuine concern on her face, I realized she was being serious. She was married and wanted to start a family and was honestly worried about the prospect of breastfeeding, because up until that point, the function of her boobs had been purely sexual.
So then I started thinking about it, and this is where I throw out a huge disclaimer, letting you know right now that my approach to answering this question will contain both honesty and humor, so, you know. You will see the word "boob" several times. Just roll with it, okay?
Because honestly, for some women, the idea of someone latching onto their boob--someone that they don't know yet, really--is slightly frightening.
And when I think about it that way, I can understand why someone might have their apprehensions.
For me, breastfeeding was a no-brainer, since I was breastfed and my sister-in-law, the one whom I first saw go through the whole having-a-baby thing, breastfed as well. Breastfeeding just came with having a baby, in my world. But actually having a baby, and going through the breastfeeding process ... it's different when you experience it for yourself. For some women, they don't make enough milk. For others, it's way too much work. And, frankly, for some, they just don't like it. But I would always encourage a Mom to at least give it a whirl and then make their choice.
But is there a possibility that it could be gross? That it's just a tad too intimate for some women?
Every woman's body is different, every woman's life experiences are different, so there are really several factors that come into play when attempting to answer that question. But, this is how I would break it down:
Let's use an example. Like, say, hugs. Hugs are nice, right? We would probably all venture to say that hugs are a good thing. They make us feel good!
Well, not really. Hugs are all fine and sweet as long as they are from someone we like. All it takes is that One Awkward Person, whom we all know, who makes their way towards you, arms open wide, and you freeze and try to shirk away, thus resulting in the ever-popular "side hug", as your getaway meets their embrace and you're stuck there for two agonizing seconds of awkwardness. Bleh. We've all been there. Hugs are sweet and fine as long as you like the person approaching you. But if you don't like that person, your defenses go up and the sweet hug becomes an annoying prison. The point I'm reaching is that there is more to touch than what is purely physical. It is just as, if not more, mental and emotional as well!
The same goes for breastfeeding, I think.
When my baby is born and in those first few moments of his/her life when they put him/her on my belly and the breastfeeding attempts begin, my thoughts and hormones are all baby. Whether you ultimately breastfeed or not, I think most moms would agree that from that moment, everything is focused on doing what's best for the baby--whether you are experiencing elation or terror--you realize that this tiny person's survival is based solely on you. So whether that means that they latch onto your boob, your toe, or your nose in order to live, you acquiesce.
And if you choose breastfeeding, then your boobs become purely functional. It can hurt. It can sting. But, after a while, in my experience, I can't even really feel it anymore. The only "stimulation" I feel is when my milk lets down and oh, the sweet release of an engorged boob is AWESOME. But it's nothing sexual. It's purely ... maternal and natural. And honestly, it's really cool. Our bodies are amazing.
And can your boobs still be sexual? Um, YES. It might take a little getting used to at first, but again, everything is hormone driven. The way you feel when your husband walks into the room is different than the way you feel when you bend down to pick your baby up out of the crib. God created us to be brilliantly multi-faceted and somehow, we are able to play different roles. The transition between the roles can be tricky (really, whether you breastfeed or not!), but that just takes time.
So. Is breastfeeding gross? I don't personally think so. But ... what do you think?
Have a lovely day!